Falcons Win Another Close Game, Move to 10-1

Jacquizz Rodgers scampers for a five-yard touchdown run. (Reinhold Matay)

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.

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