Julio Jones is so good and so vital to the Falcons that, with Atlanta leading by touchdowns in the third quarter against the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Buccaneers, his presence on the field triggered an internal alarm of sorts. Jones set the mark for most yards receiving over the first 90 games of his career. But Keanu Neal battled down Fitzpatrick's pass on fourth-and-1 at the Atlanta 18 with just over seven minutes remaining, and the Falcons drove for a clinching touchdown on Tevin Coleman's 14-yard run with just under two minutes to go.
numberFire's models projected Ryan for 20.9 FanDuel points and he slightly underachieved with 16.8 on Sunday. He caught a pair of touchdown passes, one of which came on a bobbled deep ball from wide receiver Mohamed Sanu in the wildcat formation.
If Atlanta can get some points on the board early in the first quarter and take that into half-time, I think the Falcons should be able to handle their business easily against the Bucs on Sunday. It was Jones' third career game with more than 250 yards receiving.
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Jones, who had only one touchdown catch through the first 10 games, doubled that total in the first half. Or in the Falcons case, get to the playoffs in a very competitive NFC.
With Jones playing this well, they now know that as long as he's on the field, they must be afraid.
Was it ideal? No. Tampa turned a 27-6 deficit midway through the third into a 27-20 game less than 15 minutes later, perhaps briefly conjuring some terrible memories for Falcons fans. Coleman finished with 97 yards rushing on 19 carries. A lost fumble by Terron Ward and 75- and 80-yard subsequent touchdown drives served as a reminder Atlanta's "D" has work to do. "We've got a little swag back".