Sept. 11 was the start of the 2016 NFL season. Across the NFL, teams and fans remembered those who lost their lives in the horrific 9/11 attacks.
Sept. 11 was also the season opener for the Atlanta Falcons. The birds took on their division foes, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Jameis Winston made his return from what was a stellar rookie season, in which Winston threw for 4,000 yards and 22 touchdowns. Winston also finished with a 58 percent completion percentage. The Atlanta Falcons returned from what looked like a very promising start to the 2015 season going 5-o before finishing 3-8 the rest of the way.
There were many additions added to the Falcons’ roster in the offseason including Florida safety Keanu Neal and Linebacker Deion Jones from LSU. Neal, who suffered a right knee injury in the Falcons’ third preseason game against the Dolphins, sat out against the Buccaneers. Early on the Falcons took a 13-10 lead, courtesy of a five yard touchdown connection from Matt Ryan to Mohamed Sanu. Winston and the Bucs dominated the second and third quarter,] scoring 21 unanswered points and taking a commanding 31-13 lead.
Ryan and the Falcons battled back. Late in the third quarter, Ryan completed a ten yard pass to Jacob Tammie for the fourth down conversion. Soon after, Ryan connected on a 25-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones late in the third. Ryan again linked up with Sanu for the two point conversion making the score 31 to 21. Matt Bryant made a 29-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter. The Falcons would go on to lose the game 31-24.
Penalties played a major role in the Falcons’ defeat Sunday afternoon. The birds racked up a total of 74 yards in penalties, including an offside call on Adrian Clayborn false starts by Tammie and Jake Matthew. In the end, Ryan had a big day completing 27-39 passes and throwing for 334 yards and two touchdowns. Sanu caught five passes for 80 yards and a score. Jones would finish with four catches for 66 yards and a score. This game mark 37 straight games with four or more catches for Jones. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman would combine for 52 yards rushing.
Next Week, The Falcons will take on AFC West powerhouse Oakland Raiders, who come off a 35-34 win at New Orleans.