Rapid Recap Ė Julio Jones, Falcons blow by Buccaneers
Roy Cummings, Florida Football Insiders, published 27 November 2017

If thereís anyone outside of Atlanta who should know how to contain Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is, itís Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith. It was Smith, after all, who brought Jones to the NFL and coached him for four years, including the last three with Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter serving as his offensive coordinator.

When it came to stopping Jones on Sunday, however, Smith seemed clueless, as Jones had his best day of the season, catching 12 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Falcons to a 34-20 victory over the Buccaneers. The loss dropped the Bucs to 0-3 in the NFC South and to 4-7 overall, meaning there is no way they can better the 9-7 record they had under Koetter during his first year as head coach last season.

As it has been all year, third down was also a problem for the Bucs, who allowed the Falcons to convert 11 of their 14 third down tries en-route to their seventh victory of the season. A lot of the key third-down throw went to Jones, who hadnít done much in the way of scoring touchdowns in particular prior to Sunday. He quickly made up for that in first half against the Bucs.

Against a defense that seldom double covered him, Jones caught six passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns, one of which came his via a heave from fellow wideout Mohamed Sanu. That came on a third-and-1 play from the Falcons 49 early in the second quarter in which Sanu took the snap from center, faked a handoff and then threw deep for Jones.

The 51-yard touchdown pass was the third of Sanuís career. The touchdown reception, meanwhile, was only the second of the season for Jones, who added another to his total just one series later. That came on a 25-yard pass, this one from quarterback Matt Ryan, who took advantage was aided by the fact Ryan Smith fell down while Jones made his cut for the end zone.

The Bucs, who opened the game by marching 57 yards to take a 3-0 lead on a 36-yard Patrick Murray field goal responded with another field goal, but the Falcons tacked on one of their own to take a 20-6 lead into the half. The Falcons extended their lead to 27-6 early in the third quarter, but the Bucs responded better this time, bouncing back to score two touchdowns, both on Peyton Barber runs, to cut the Falcons lead to 27-20.

The Bucs then forced a takeaway, their sixth in two games, when linebacker Kendell Beckwith forced a fumble that cornerback Brent Grimes scooped up and ran 37 yards with to the Bucs 42.