Douglas gives Falcons plenty to talk about

Harry Douglas helped the Falcons prevail in a must-win scenario. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

ATLANTA -- Harry Douglas promised he wouldn't try to be Superman. Well, one could have mistaken his red jersey for a red cape Sunday afternoon.

The Atlanta Falcons receiver knew he needed to step up with Julio Jones out for the season following foot surgery and Roddy White sidelined by hamstring and ankle injuries. All Douglas did was respond with a career-high 149 receiving yards on seven catches against a porous Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense in his team's 31-23 win.

His previous career-high was 133 yards against the New Orleans Saints in 2011.

"I've got to go out here and be Harry," a modest Douglas said afterward. "I can't go out here and be somebody that I'm not."

Tight end Tony Gonzalez put Douglas' performance in perspective.

"I hope you're not surprised about what Harry did today," Gonzalez said. "He's definitely a capable person. Obviously with Julio Jones and Roddy White, your chances of going out there and making those plays obviously go down because those guys are making all the plays. But Harry played great for us today."

Quarterback Matt Ryan, who posted a career-high 148.4 passer rating while completing 20 of 26 passes for 273 yards and three scores, echoed Gonzalez's praise of Douglas.

"He played a great game; stepped up for us when we needed him too," Ryan said of Douglas. "He's done that all season, though. I don't think anybody in that locker room was surprised with the way he's played because he's had to fill in with Roddy being nicked up most of the year. And now that Julio's out ... I just thought he played really well."

The Falcons' line gave Ryan time to find Douglas, who helped his quarterback get into a comfort zone early. Of Douglas' 149 receiving yards, 140 of them came in the first half.

Douglas had 91 yards alone on two second-quarter receptions. The first was a 54-yard pass play on which he won his one-on-one matchup against Leonard Johnson, adjusted in mid-air and picked up 21 yards after the catch. Johnson was even whistled for pass interference on the play but the Falcons, of course, declined. Douglas set up Matt Bryant's 23-yard field goal.

The second catch was Douglas' 37-yard touchdown reception on a nice stutter-and-go move from the outside to lose Bucs cornerback Johnthan Banks.

"His routes were clean," Ryan said of Douglas. "He did a great job with his patience on the routes, allowing the appropriate time to set up for me to get into the spot that I needed to get. I think our timing was good.

"He's quick. And I think we used him effectively today. I think specifically of two routes: the touchdown catch where he kind of gave a quick move to the post and then went on top, and also a deep crossing route, he was able to create separation at the end just by that little quickness. ... I thought he did a great job running today."

Douglas' effort seemed to rub off on the other receivers. Drew Davis, in his first-career NFL start, made a spectacular, one-handed catch only topped by the one made by Bucs veteran Vincent Jackson. And Falcons rookie Darius Johnson, promoted from the practice squad Saturday, made his first NFL catch and finished with two receptions for 24 yards.

Douglas' outing even made folks forget about Gonzalez, who caught a pass in his 201st consecutive game but had a quiet two catches for 30 yards while being targeted four times.

Douglas was targeted seven times and caught every ball thrown his way. He even was bold enough to engage in some trash talk with Bucs cornerback Darrelle Revis, although they didn't match up much Sunday.

"He's still an outstanding player, I still think the best corner in the NFL right now," Douglas said. "It was great going against him and talking to him a little bit during the game."

If Douglas keeps playing like he did Sunday, he can keep talking the rest of the season.