A short work week couldn’t slow the Atlanta Falcons’ high-scoring offense.
The Falcons now hope having extra time off will provide an opportunity for some key players to recover from injuries.
The Falcons showed no signs of missing tight end Jacob Tamme and running back Tevin Coleman in Thursday night’s 43-28 win at Tampa Bay. Tamme, the starter, was held out with a shoulder injury. Coleman, who has shared time with starter Devonta Freeman, was inactive due to a hamstring injury.
Atlanta also held out pass-rush specialist Dwight Freeney (quadriceps). Cornerback Desmond Trufant missed the second half with a shoulder injury.
Atlanta now has a long weekend off before playing at Philadelphia on Nov. 13, followed by a bye week. That’s a good opportunity for rest and recovery — not that the Falcons played like a team that needs a break.
“I was really pleased with the players and their readiness for the game,” coach Dan Quinn said Friday. “I thought we had a real edge about us. It was really evident. We looked fresh, we looked fast going through it.”
Quinn said he had no update on Trufant. He said he is “hopeful” Coleman can return against the Eagles. He said he expects to know more about both players on Wednesday.
With Matt Ryan passing for 344 yards with four touchdowns — each to a different receiver — the Falcons (6-3) topped 40 points for the third time this season and strengthened their hold on first place in the NFC South.
Quinn called the win “another example of what we believe this team can be. The contributions continue to come from every man on the roster.”
The extra time off the next three weeks will provide valuable recovery time, but the Falcons showed impressive depth in keeping their offense moving against the Buccaneers.
Backup tight ends Levine Toilolo and Austin Hooper had touchdown catches. Wide receiver Taylor Gabriel helped replace Coleman with two carries for 24 yards, including a 9-yard scoring run.
The Falcons put the game away with three straight touchdowns after leading only 20-14 at halftime.
“Short week or not we still stuck to our routine and we nailed it as a whole team,” said defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, who had two sacks.
The win provided evidence of the team’s growth since opening the season with a 31-24 home loss to Tampa Bay.
“For me, that’s like the best thing from a confidence standpoint is that we continue to get better week in and week out,” Ryan said.
Ryan is enjoying a dramatic return to top form after throwing only 21 touchdown passes, his fewest since his rookie season, last season. Ryan has 23 touchdown passes, the most in the NFL, with only four interceptions.
Quinn said the team is “a lot different, I thought, from Week 1 to Week 9. We showed we’ve improved in a number of areas in all three phases.”
The improvement is reflected in Atlanta’s 3-1 division record.
The Falcons were only 1-5 in the division last season, when they finished 8-8 overall. The poor play against NFC South opponents kept Atlanta out of the playoffs.
Another key area of improvement is the pass rush. The Falcons have 21 sacks, already surpassing their league-low 19 in 2015.