A season after falling one win shy of the Super Bowl, Matt Ryan and the Falcons stumbled to their fourth straight loss Sunday, losing 41-28 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Falcons went an NFC-best 13-3 last season. At 2-8, they’ve been outscored
135-61 during this recent skid.
“Obviously, what’s disheartening is this year, when you’re sitting 2-8 with the expectations that were reasonable coming into this year,” Blank said. “It’s disappointing to our fans, everybody connected to the franchise. It’s not like the old days, we were going up and down every year. We’ve had five great years. Second-most wins in the league.”
Blank said coach Mike Smith and GM Thomas Dimitroff are reviewing all aspects of the team to get the Falcons back into being a championship contender.
Asked if he had full confidence in them, Blank said, “I absolutely do.”
“And they’ve earned it over the past five years. It’s a tough business. We’ve had a lot of injuries, and issues on top of the injuries. These guys are proven leaders and proven by success. They’ll do the work that has to be done with my full support.”
Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez said everyone shared the blame.
“It’s embarrassing, the way we came out and performed as a team. I mean all of us,” he said. “It’s all of us. (I’m) getting tired of it. It’s all of us. That’s the thing about it. It’s going to take all of us to get out of it.”
Ryan threw an 80-yard TD pass to Harry Douglas that extended his streak of consecutive games with at least one touchdown to 16 games.
Ryan also had a 6-yard TD pass to Roddy White in the fourth quarter. But he also was sacked three times by Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy and had one of two interceptions returned 37 yards for a TD by linebacker Mason Foster.
“Clearly, we’re 10 games into this thing and certainly far, far away from where we want to be,” Ryan said. “We’ve got six games to go. It’s about going out there and taking pride in what you do. And knowing that if we do play without the mistakes, without those kind of things, we’re capable of getting the job done.”
Ryan completed 19 of 36 passes for 254 yards. He was replaced by Dominique Davis midway through the fourth quarter, but re-entered the game after the backup limped off the field with an injury.
The Falcons trailed 41-13 before Antone Smith scored on a 50-yard run and Ryan threw his TD pass to White.
Bobby Rainey, playing for his third team in less than two seasons, rushed for 163 yards and scored three touchdowns for the Buccaneers.
The waiver wire pickup filling in for the injured Doug Martin and Mike James scored on first-half runs of 43 and 3 yards. He then caught a 4-yard TD pass from Mike Glennon in the third quarter to help the Bucs (2-8) win for the second straight time following an 0-8 start.
The 5-foot-8, 212-pound Rainey also rushed for 45 yards and scored the go-ahead touchdown in a 22-19 victory over Miami the previous week. He’s been with the Bucs just four games after beginning the season as a kick returner and backup running back with the Cleveland Browns.
Glennon completed 20 of 23 passes for 231 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Vincent Jackson caught a 3-yard TD pass and finished with 10 receptions for 165 yards.
Rainey entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with Baltimore after leaving Western Kentucky as the Hilltoppers’ career rushing leader. He was released once, re-signed to the Ravens’ practice squad and eventually wound up on the active roster before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
Baltimore went on to win the Super Bowl, and Rainey received a championship ring despite not appearing in a regular-season game as a rookie.
In addition to running the ball effectively for the third straight game, the Bucs recovered an onside kick, picked up a first down on a play that began with a direct snap to running back Brian Leonard and pulled a couple more trick plays out their playbook that didn’t work — a halfback pass and punter Michael Koenen’s long, cross-field throw on a fake field goal.
And that was in the first half alone, while the Bucs were building a 24-6 lead.
The Falcons’ coach had it was team effort, and not in a positive way.
“We obviously didn’t play good enough football to win in any phase of the game,” Smith said. “The way that we played was unacceptable. The way that we coached was unacceptable.”