Grimm, Hayes sustain injuries
Ira Kaufman, The Tampa Tribune, published 26 September 2011|
Cody Grimm injured a knee against Atlanta on Sunday and is unsure when he will return. Grimm was injured in the third quarter while attempting to tackle Atlanta RB Michael Turner. Something hard hit his knee and the pain was instant, he said.
Bucs LB Geno Hayes sustained a head injury on the same play and was unsure if Grimm's knee hit his head. Neither player returned after his respective injury. After the game, Grimm wore a leg brace and was on crutches. He will have an MRI today, he said, to determine the extent of his injury.
"We'll see (today)," Grimm said. "Hopefully it's nothing too big and I'll be able to come back by the end of the year. If not, start rehabbing."
Last season, Grimm sustained a season-ending ankle injury and worked the entire offseason to recover. "It stinks," Grimm said. "Wrong place at the wrong time right now."
Hayes would not say after the game if he had a concussion, but did ask a video camera operator to turn off the camera's lights because they bothered him. "I'll be fine," Hayes said. "No biggie."
Next man up
Corey Lynch found himself in a familiar situation Sunday. When Grimm sustained his season-ending ankle injury last season, Lynch started Tampa Bay's final five games, finishing with 18 tackles and two interceptions.
When Grimm left the game with a knee injury Sunday, Lynch replaced him and had two tackles and one pass defense off the bench.
"All week I studied like I was starting," Lynch said. "That's kind of my role. You got to accept it right now and be ready. It only takes one play. I'm sad about Cody. I don't know what his injury is, but I'm just praying for him."
Filling the gaps
Through two games, the Bucs defense had been gashed for 312 yards on the ground, but Atlanta found few running lanes Sunday. Atlanta ran for only 30 yards in 15 rushing attempts and Turner was shut down for 20 yards in 11 carries, forcing Matt Ryan to throw 51 times. The 30 yards allowed is the 11th-best defensive showing in franchise history and the lowest for a Bucs opponent since the Packers ran for only 28 yards in 2008.
"We're making way too many mistakes in terms of penalties and we're not hitting on all cylinders right now,'' said Falcons coach Mike Smith. "When you stop the run, you control the line of scrimmage. The statistics were not very good.''
Turner had been averaging 6.9 yards per carry, but he couldn't get started as Tampa Bay's defense loaded up to make Atlanta one-dimensional. "They game-planned well,'' said Ryan, who was sacked four times. "They had guys in the box to stop our run.''
Pick your poison
Instead of matching up against Pro Bowl WR Roddy White, Bucs CB Aqib Talib usually found himself covering rookie Julio Jones. Both receivers topped the 100-yard mark, but TE Tony Gonzalez accounted for the only Atlanta TD with a 10-yard catch in the fourth quarter.
"Julio Jones is a big, fast guy who might be my matchup for the rest of my Atlanta days," said Talib, who registered six unassisted tackles. "The streak's over against the Falcons and it feels good. Our pass rush was really good today. Every time I looked up, I saw Ryan either out of the pocket or on the ground."
The Falcons traded up to draft Jones in the first round and the former Alabama standout paid dividends Sunday with his first 100-yard game as a pro. "He's a good corner," Jones said of his duel against Talib. "I'll see him again, but he's a great athlete."
An announced crowd of 46,995 braved pregame showers, but the weather held up for most of the game.
The Bucs hadn't beaten the Falcons since Sept. 14, 2008, when the late Gaines Adams posted two sacks and Earnest Graham ran for 116 yards in a 24-9 victory in Tampa.
Bucs rookie MLB Mason Foster registered a sack for the second consecutive week and rookie DE Adrian Clayborn notched his first NFL sack.
Ex-Falcons P Michael Koenen provided Tampa Bay with an edge in field position, averaging 43 yards on his three punts and adding two touchbacks on kickoffs.
The Bucs maintained possession for almost 20 minutes in the second half.
Tackles Donald Penn and Jeremy Trueblood held Falcons DE John Abraham without a sack.