Falcons snap losing streak, defeat Bucs 27-17

Matt Ryan

The Falcons are still in contention for the NFC South crown. (Brian Blanco)

The Atlanta Falcons hadn’t won a game on the road since defeating the Buffalo Bills back in Week 13 of last season.

They also hadn’t won a game since Week 3 against the same team they defeated on Sunday – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

While the game didn’t resemble the 56-14 shellacking in the Georgia Dome earlier in the season, the Falcons emerged victorious with a 27-17 win to get the series sweep over the Bucs.

Atlanta was in the midst of a five-game losing streak. On the other side of the ball, Tampa Bay was on its own losing streak, having dropped four in a row.

To switch things up, Lovie Smith opted to turn back to 12-year veteran Josh McCown after second-year player Mike Glennon started the past five games but led the Bucs to just one victory during that span.

McCown’s last start came against Atlanta early in the season, but he was pulled after tearing a ligament in his thumb. Before he exited that game, McCown completed five of 12 passes for 58 yards and an interception.

This time around, McCown fared a bit better as he passed for 301 yards, two touchdowns, and was the Bucs’ leading rusher with 39 yards. But he also threw two interceptions – one in the red zone on the Bucs’ rally and the other on a desperation heave at the end of the game.

Tampa Bay started the game strong with a promising drive that was kept alive for 17 plays and took over eight minutes off the clock. But the Bucs were unable to punch the ball in the end zone and instead settled for a 51-yard field goal from Patrick Murray.

Atlanta responded with a 78-yard touchdown drive capped off with a one-yard run by Steven Jackson to take a 7-3 lead.

At the half, the Falcons held a 13-10 lead over the Bucs.

Tampa Bay took a temporary 17-16 lead in the fourth, but after a five-yard touchdown pass to Roddy White and a successful two-point conversion, Atlanta jumped on top and wouldn’t squander the advantage.

Julio Jones, who hadn’t topped 100 receiving yards in three games, did so this game with 119 yards on eight receptions. Roddy White had six catches for 72 yards and a touchdown.

Matt Ryan completed 20 of 31 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown.

Jackson posted a season-high 81 rushing yards.

Rookie Mike Evans led the Bucs receivers with seven receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown.

Next Sunday, the Falcons go on the road again to face another division opponent in the Carolina Panthers.

Notes

With the win, the 3-6 Falcons – with all three wins coming within the division –are incredulously still in the race for the NFC South crown.

Atlanta scored 11 points in the fourth quarter. It was the first time they’ve scored double digit points in the fourth since Week 1 against the New Orleans Saints, and just the fourth game this season in which the Falcons scored points in the final quarter.

Kroy Biermann and Osi Umenyiora led an opportunistic Falcons pass rush that sacked McCown four times. Biermann and Umenyiora each had a sack and a half, and Jonathan Babineaux had the team’s other sack.

Despite the victory, Atlanta has only won two games on the road in its last 13 contests.

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