FLOWERY BRANCH — Here are the five things we learned on Monday about the Falcons (6-5), who play at Tampa Bay (5-6) in a big NFC South game at 1 p.m. Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
1. PLAYERS RALLY AROUND MATT RYAN: Julio Jones says nothing is wrong with Matt Ryan as the players rally around their beleaguered leader, who’s tossed five interceptions over the past two games and is on pace to tie his career-high of 17 interceptions set in 2009.
2. ADMISSION IS FIRST STEP: The first step to a cure is the admission that there is a problem. Falcons coach Dan Quinn finally admitted: “We have a turnover problem.” (Watch video above)
3. FREEMAN EXPECTED BACK: Falcons running back Devonta Freeman has been cleared from the concussion protocol program by the independent doctors, Quinn said on his radio show. They expect him to play against the Bucs.
4. HESTER MUST PROVE HE’S READY: The Falcons have to make a decision on Devin Hester’s return from short-term injured reserve later in the week. They are currently carrying two kickers in Matt Bryant, who strained his quad last week, and Shayne Graham.
5. MISSED TACKLES: In the battle of the No. 1 run defense and league’s top rusher, Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson was the clear winner. He rushed 29 times for 158 yards and two touchdowns. The Falcons missed a season-high 15 tackles in the game. They dropped eight spots in the rankings.
Dan Quinn, Matt Ryan & Roddy White all spoke after the Falcons’ 20-10 loss to the Vikings. The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter reports from the Georgia Dome.
MINNESOTA GAME COVERAGE — Vikings 20, Falcons 10
FROM THE FIRST MEETING — TAMPA BAY GAME COVERAGE — Bucs 23, Falcons 20 in OT