Falcons take care of Bucs in 56-14 pounding

Devin Hester turned in a record-breaking night. (John Bazemore)

Devin Hester turned in a record-breaking night in the Falcons’ 56-14 victory. (John Bazemore)

Devin Hester set a new NFL record with his 20th return touchdown and Matt Ryan broke the Falcons franchise record for completion percentage with 87.5 en route to a 56-14 dismantling of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Preview

The Falcons offense has to improve against the Bucs. (Frank Victores)

The Falcons offense has to get back on track against the Bucs.(Frank Victores)

The Atlanta Falcons have no time to dwell on the thumping given to them by the Cincinnati Bengals last week.

It’s a short week for them as they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2) in the Georgia Dome Thursday.

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Falcons Struggle Against Bengals in 24-10 Pounding

Matt Ryan was under duress for a large portion of the afternoon. (Michael Conroy)

Matt Ryan was under duress for a large portion of the afternoon. (Michael Conroy)

The Atlanta Falcons were riding high after a big divisional win over the New Orleans Saints in the season opener.

Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals brought the Falcons back down to Earth a bit.

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Atlanta Falcons at Cincinnati Bengals Preview

Julio Jones leads an array of dangerous weapons the Bengals will have to contend with. (John Bazemore)

Julio Jones leads an array of dangerous weapons the Bengals will have to contend with. (John Bazemore)

After a huge division win over the New Orleans Saints, the Atlanta Falcons travel up to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals.

If the Falcons offense picks up where it left off, the Bengals could be in for a long day.

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Ryan has record-setting day as Falcons beat Saints 37-34 in OT

Matt Ryan turned in a record-breaking performance against the Saints. (Jason Getz)

Matt Ryan turned in a record-breaking performance against the Saints. (Jason Getz)

Matt Ryan couldn’t be stopped.

The quarterback piled up 448 yards through the air – breaking the previous single-game franchise record for yards set by Chris Chandler at 431 in 2001  – and led the Atlanta Falcons to a 37-34 overtime victory over the New Orleans Saints in an NFC South matchup. Ryan’s three scores passed set him atop the Falcons’ mark for career touchdown passes, passing Steve Bartkowski’s 154.

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Hard Knocks with the Atlanta Falcons: Season Finale Recap

The Hard Knocks series with the Falcons was an enjoyable watch. (Phelan M. Ebenhack)

The Hard Knocks series with the Falcons was an enjoyable watch. (Phelan M. Ebenhack)

The season finale of Hard Knocks with the Atlanta Falcons opens with undrafted rookie linebacker Jacques Smith taking a walk backstage after being 

Smith then goes to head coach Mike Smith and asks for a chance to address the team to apologize for getting kicked out of the game.

Matt Ryan – in true leader fashion – is leading a meeting with the receivers. He quizzes the younger guys, asking them what their assignments are in given situations.

Ryan then moves on to veteran Roddy White and quizzes him. “I thought this was supposed to be for the young guys?” he asked.

It’s a shame rookie wide receiver Geraldo “Amsterdam” Boldewijn injured his hamstring on the last day of practice. In a receivers meeting, it was revealed he bench pressed 275 pounds three times. “Really?” wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie asked, incredulously. “Ol’ strong [expletive].”

The rookies understand what’s at stake going into the fourth preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. A lot of cuts will take place in the couple of days following the game, so players have a last opportunity to show they deserve a spot on Atlanta’s final roster.

T.J. Yates had a strong showing against the Jacksonville Jaguars. His joyful demeanor is in stark contrast to what he looked like against the Houston Texans in the second preseason game and the Tennessee Titans in the third preseason game. 

The end of the fourth preseason game means it’s time to start shaping up the roster. A lot of cuts are on the way.

“This is the worst day in the NFL,” fullback Patrick DiMarco says in the locker room.

The narrator puts it perfectly: “In the NFL, coming a long way isn’t good enough.”

After making a few cuts, Smith discusses his dislike for making cuts with general manager Thomas Dimitroff: “The least favorite part of this job. Friggin’ stinks.”

To counter the not-so-great moments of seeing players being cut, Tyler Starr being informed by Smith he’d make the team was a great moment to see. The rookie linebacker was extremely grateful and told Smith, “God bless you.”

After the phone call, Starr’s fiancé jumped into his arms. It was definitely a heart-warming moment.

During dinner with some of the receivers, White proclaims the 2014 Falcons team as the best he’s been on. He says, “I’m like a kid in the candy store, and we got all the good candies!”

The episode ends with Smith addressing the players in preparation for the upcoming season.

Overall, the finale was admittedly a little slow. Of course, that could also be attributed to it following what was, in my opinion, the best episode of the series.

And with that, this year’s Hard Knocks is a wrap.

It’s time to get ready for the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. Football has returned!

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Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints Preview

An opening week win against the Saints would be huge. (AP file photo)

An opening week win against the Saints would be huge for the Falcons. (AP file photo)

What better way to open the 2014 NFL season than to take on your most-hated division rival?

The Atlanta Falcons will play hosts to the New Orleans Saints this Sunday in what could be dubbed as a “must-win” game.

Well, it could be a “must-win” game for Atlanta, at least.

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Hard Knocks with the Atlanta Falcons: Episode 4 Recap

Lots of players were reprimanded in the third episode of Hard Knocks. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Lots of players were reprimanded in the third episode of Hard Knocks. (John Bazemore)

Let me get this out the way: The fourth episode of Hard Knocks with the Atlanta Falcons was, by far, the series’ best up to this point. 

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Hard Knocks with the Atlanta Falcons: Episode 3 Recap

Jake Matthews was told immediately he'd be the left tackle following Sam Bakers injury. (John Bazemore)

Jake Matthews was told immediately he’d be the left tackle following Sam Baker’s season-ending injury. (John Bazemore)

Another episode of Hard Knocks means we’re that much closer to the regular season.

The first few minutes of the third episode of Hard Knocks with the Atlanta Falcons was a first in the show’s history as we’re taken inside the operating room to witness rookie linebacker Marquis Spruill’s ACL surgery.

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Hard Knocks with the Atlanta Falcons: Episode 2 Recap

Rookie linebacker Prince Shembo looks primed to contribute this season. (John Bazemore)

Rookie linebacker Prince Shembo looks primed to contribute this season. (John Bazemore)

The second episode of Hard Knocks opens with a cut: undrafted rookie fullback Roosevelt Nix-Jones is released from the team. Cuts are probably the worst part of being a coach.

Before the joint practice with the Tennessee Titans, Mike Smith warns anyone who fights will be thrown out. We’re then given a nice foreshadow when the camera briefly pans to center Joe Hawley.

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