The Atlanta Falcons (10-1) love playing (and winning) close games. Including today’s game, seven of the last eight games have been decided by a touchdown or less; the Falcons are 6-1 in those match-ups.
Atlanta took a hot divisional foe in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5) at Raymond James Stadium and came away with a 24-23 victory.
Matt Ryan had his fourth 300-yard game in a row, throwing for 353 yards and a touchdown on 26 of 32 passing. However, he also threw an interception and lost a fumble on a blindside sack.
He overcame those two mistakes to lead the Falcons on what proved to be the game-winning touchdown drive with 7:55 left in the game.
Julio Jones came up huge after being listed as questionable with an ankle injury. He had six receptions for a career-high 147 yards and a touchdown, which was an 80-yard hook-up from Ryan.
Jacquizz Rodgers was active in both running and catching the football. He finished with 10 carries for 49 yards and a touchdown to go along with two receptions for 30 yards.
On paper, going up against the Falcons porous run defense looked to be a perfect match-up for Doug Martin. Although Martin found the end zone twice from one yard out, he was limited to just 63 total yards; Sean Weatherspoon’s return to the field paid immediate dividends.
Heading into the game, Josh Freeman had thrown multiple touchdown passes in six straight games. However, he failed to throw a touchdown pass today, going 19/30 for 256 yards and no turnovers.
Freeman’s top target, Vincent Jackson, hauled in five catches for 96 yards.
The Falcons dominated the first half, but the 10-10 halftime score didn’t reflect that. Atlanta’s opening 12-play, 67-yard drive took over seven minutes but ended with just a field goal.
The Bucs’ opening drive was 10 plays for 81 yards, took over six minutes off the clock and ended with a touchdown.
Atlanta had a chance to take the lead going into halftime, but Matt Bryant, who’s usually automatic, missed a 22-yard field goal. Bryant missed another field goal with 13 seconds left in the game.
On the previous drive, Tampa Bay had a chance to take a 26-24 lead, but Connor Barth missed a 56-yarder.
It’s a great road win for Atlanta, but they have no time to rest. The New Orleans Saints are coming to town for a Thursday Night Football showdown.