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November 25, 2012 @ 5:00 pm
Current rating: 5.00 Stars/1 Votes

Falcons Hold Off Bucs' Rally To Prevail, 24-23

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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UPDATED - The Falcons edged the Buccaneers, 24-23, to move to 10-1 on the season and end Tampa Bay's four-game winning streak. Despite winning the turnover battle against Atlanta, missed opportunities cost the Bucs, who fell to 6-5 this year, a chance to gain ground in the NFC playoff race.
A missed field goal and missed opportunities halted Tampa Bay’s four-game winning streak as Atlanta prevailed, 24-23, at Raymond James Stadium to improve to 10-1 on the season. Even though the Bucs won the turnover battle against the Falcons 2-0, they fell to 6-5 on the season because they were only able to convert those takeaways into just six points.

“It was a hard-fought football games by both football teams,” Bucs head coach Greg Schiano said. “Missed opportunities are a big part of it.”

A sack by cornerback E.J. Biggers forced a fumble by Matt Ryan that was recovered by defensive tackle Gerald McCoy at the Atlanta 36. That turnover led to a 48-yard field goal for Tampa Bay that gave the team a 23-17 lead before Atlanta’s final touchdown with 7:55 left.

“That falls in the missed opportunity category. We’ve been very good about scoring touchdowns off turnovers. It’s hard to win games by threes. Sevens add up considerably quicker.”

Quarterback Matt Ryan, who was 26-of-32 for 353 yards with one touchdown and one interception, led Atlanta to the go-ahead score, which was a 3-yard touchdown run by Michael Turner to put the Falcons up 24-23. A costly defensive holding call by free safety Ahmad Black on third-and-goal from the Tampa Bay 5 on Harry Douglas gave Atlanta a first-and-goal situation from the 3-yard line to set up Turner’s critical touchdown.

The Bucs tried to answer on their next possession, but Connor Barth, who made field goals from 22 and 48 yards earlier in the game, missed on a 56-yarder with 3:37 left in regulation.

“My confidence in Connor is that he is going to make it,” Schiano said. “He’s proven that to be the case. But again, it was another missed opportunity.”

After Matt Bryant missed his second field goal of the game from 48 yards, the Bucs got one last shot at a game-winning score, but Josh Freeman’s Hail Mary pass was broken up in the end zone.

Freeman was 19-of-30 for 256 yards with no interceptions but without any touchdowns, either. It was the first time Freeman has not thrown a TD pass all season.

“Every time you lose you question whether you could have gotten more points on individual drives,” Freeman said. “Ultimately, we didn’t score enough points to win.”

The Falcons defense did a credible job of shutting down rookie running back Doug Martin, who was held to 50 yards on 21 carries (2.4 avg.), but scored two touchdowns for Tampa Bay.

“They loaded the box and did a lot outside of their tendencies,” Freeman said. “If you can contain a guy like Doug that is saying a lot. The main issue is not scoring enough.”

Wide receiver Julio Jones led the way for the Falcons with six catches for 147 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown against rookie cornerback Leonard Johnson to put Atlanta up 17-13 in the third quarter.

“Eighty of it is on one play. If you don’t give up the big monster play by that quarterback and you are in this,” Schiano said.

The Buccaneers jumped out to a 7-3 lead in the first quarter thanks to a 1-yard touchdown run by Martin. The Falcons scored a touchdown on a 5-yard run by Jacquizz Rodgers to pull ahead 10-7 in the second quarter before the Bucs tied it up with a 22-yard field goal by Barth after Ronde Barber picked off Ryan to set Tampa Bay up in Atlanta territory.

Bryant missed a chip shot, 22-yard field goal right as time expired in the first half. Atlanta coach Mike Smith called a timeout prior to Bryant’s field goal and apparently iced his own kicker. The Falcons ran 34 plays compared to the Bucs’ 17, but the score was still 10-10 at halftime.

Barth’s 42-yard field goal in the third quarter gave the Bucs a 13-10 lead, but Jones’ 80-yard touchdown catch gave Atlanta a 17-13 lead. Freeman brought the Bucs back with passes of 39 and 15 yards to Tiquan Underwood, who had five receptions for 77 yards and Vincent Jackson, who had five catches for 96 yards, respectively. Those throws help set up Martin’s 1-yard touchdown run that gave the Bucs a short-lived lead before Atlanta’s final touchdown sealed Tampa Bay’s fate.

“The Falcons are a great team and we get another shot at them in five weeks, but today was their day,” Freeman said.  “We are prepared to take this thing to Denver.”

The 6-5 Bucs travel to Denver to play Peyton Manning and the 8-3 Broncos next Sunday.

First Quarter – Falcons 3, Buccaneers 0

Atlanta took over seven minutes to score on its opening possession, driving 72 yards down to the Tampa Bay 13 before having to settle for 31-yard field goal by Matt Bryant to give the Falcons a 3-0 lead. Matt Ryan was 4-of-4 for 26 yards, including a 13-yard pass to Julio Jones, while Jacquizz Rodgers rushed for 32 yards on four carries, including a 20-yard run.

First Quarter – Buccaneers 7, Falcons 3
Josh Freeman had throws of 21 and 22 yards to tight end Dallas Clark and wide receiver Tiquan Underwood, respectively, to help drive the Bucs 81 yards for a touchdown. Freeman was 4-of-4 for 56 yards on the drive, while Doug Martin had six carries for 25 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run to give Tampa Bay a 7-3 lead.

Second Quarter – Falcons 10, Buccaneers 7
The Falcons answered with a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to take a 10-7 lead in the second quarter. Ryan was 5-of-5 for 64 yards with a 15-yard strike to Jones and a 20-yard pass to tight end Tony Gonzalez, and he also scrambled for 13 yards to get the Falcons into scoring territory. Rodgers scored on a 5-yard touchdown run to put Atlanta ahead.

Second Quarter – Buccaneers 10, Falcons 10
Bucs free safety Ronde Barber picked off Ryan at the Tampa Bay 41 and returned the ball 28 yards to the Atlanta 31. On the Bucs’ first play, Mike Williams threw a 28-yard pass to Vincent Jackson down to the 3-yard line. But after three cracks at the end zone, the Bucs lost three yards and had to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Connor Barth to tie the game at 10-10.

Third Quarter – Buccaneers 13, Falcons 10
The Bucs took 13 plays to move deep into Falcons territory for a 42-yard field goal by Barth to give Tampa Bay a 13-10 lead. Freeman hit Underwood with a 7-yard strike on third-and-5 and Clark for a gain of 13 on third-and-4 from the Tampa Bay 32 to move the chains. Freeman was at it again on third-and-10 from the Bucs’ 45 with a 31-yard strike to Jackson down to the Atlanta 24. But the drive stalled there and the Bucs had to settle for Barth’s field goal.

Third Quarter – Falcons 17, Bucs 13
On the Falcons’ next play from scrimmage, Ryan hit Jones with an 80-yard touchdown over rookie cornerback Leonard Johnson to put Atlanta up 17-13.

Fourth Quarter – Buccaneers 20, Falcons 17
Freeman had two big throws – a 39-yarder to Underwood and a 15-yard strike to Jackson down to the Atlanta 30 – to put the Bucs in scoring territory. Martin rushed for seven yards before Freeman and Jackson connected again on a 12-yard pass to the Atlanta 11. A 10-yard run by Martin preceded his 1-yard touchdown run that gave the Bucs a short-lived 20-17 lead.

Fourth Quarter – Buccaneers 23, Falcons 17
Cornerback E.J. Biggers sacked Ryan on third-and-1 at the Atlanta 37, forcing a fumble that was recovered by defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. However, the Bucs couldn’t convert a first down and had to settle for a 48-yard field goal by Barth to push Tampa Bay’s lead to 23-17.

Fourth Quarter – Falcons 24, Buccaneers 23
Rodgers caught a 32-yard pass from Ryan to move the Falcons to the Bucs 32. A 15-yard catch by Jones moved the ball to the Tampa Bay 10. A defensive holding penalty on free safety Ahmad Black on third-and goal from the Tampa Bay 5 gave the Falcons a first-and-goal from the 3 and Michael Turner scored on the next play to put Atlanta ahead 24-23.

Buccaneers free safety Ronde Barber recorded his 47th career interception on Sunday and now has four on the year to lead the team. … Cornerback Danny Gorrer saw his first action as a Buccaneer on Sunday. … Wide receiver Mike Williams threw his first NFL pass, a 28-yarder to Vincent Jackson, to help set up Tampa Bay’s field goal in the second quarter. … Cornerback E.J. Biggers recorded his first career sack when he dropped Matt Ryan on third-and-1 at the Atlanta 37, forcing a fumble that was recovered by defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. … Rookie running back Doug Martin scored two touchdowns to push his season total to nine on the season. The team record is 13, set by running back James Wilder, who had 13 in 1984. … After catching five passes for 96 yards on Sunday, wide receiver Vincent Jackson has 959 yards receiving on 47 catches.

On a day where the Bucs defense had its ups and downs, free safety Ronde Barber was the steadiest defender for Tampa Bay in its 24-23 loss to NFC South-leading Atlanta. Barber was tied for the team lead with weakside linebacker Lavonte David with eight stops, including a tackle for loss.

More importantly, Barber recorded his fourth interception of the season, which leads the team, in the second quarter as he stepped in front of Falcons wide receiver Roddy White. Barber returned the pick 28 yards to the Atlanta 31 and set up Tampa Bay for a 22-yard field goal by Connor Barth, which tied the game at 10-10 with 3:41 left in the first half. For his efforts, Barber, who also had a pass breakup against Atlanta, is the PewterReport.com Bucs MVP.

Bucs' inactives against the Falcons were: CB Eric Wright, RB Michael Smith, LB Najee Goode, S Cody Grimm, C/G Cody Wallace, WR David Douglas and DT Matthew Masifilo.

Falcons’ inactives against the Bucs were: QB Dominique Davis, WR Tim Toone, S Charles Mitchell, G Phillipkeith Manley, G Harlan Gunn, DE Lawrence Sidbury and DT Peria Jerry.

Bucs center Ted Larsen was shaken up with 3:52 left in the second quarter. Jeremy Zuttah moved to center and Roger Allen was inserted at left guard for a play before Larsen returned.

• A holding penalty by right tackle Demar Dotson and an illegal hands to the face penalty by right guard Jamon Meredith negated a 42-yard catch-and-run down to the Atlanta 45. That set up Tampa Bay with a second-and-23 from its own 7 and ultimately a punt two plays later.

• Right before halftime, the Bucs had three chances to punch the ball in from the Falcons’ 3-yard line, but after a 2-yard gain to the 1-yard line, Tampa Bay had an incompletion and a 3-yard loss and settle to settle for a 22-yard field goal to tie the game at 10-10.

• Bucs cornerback Leonard Johnson gave up an 80-yard touchdown catch to Julio Jones in Cover 3 to put Atlanta up 17-13 in the third quarter.

• A defensive holding call on free safety Ahmad Black on third-and-goal from the Tampa Bay 5 gave Atlanta’s offense new life and a first down at the 3. Michael Turner scored a touchdown for Atlanta on the next play to put the Falcons up 24-23.

• Tampa Bay’s clock management was rather poor, especially at the end of each half. The Bucs left a timeout on the board in the first half and Greg Schiano didn’t use any of Tampa Bay’s three timeouts in the second half until after the two-minute warning. The Bucs let close to 30 seconds run off the clock before the two-minute warning and didn’t call a timeout to salvage the clock. Tampa Bay got to its own 47-yard line before time expired and could have used a few more precious seconds to help get into field goal range to attempt a game-winning kick.

Tampa Bay (6-5) travels to Denver to play the Broncos (8-3) on Sunday, December 2 at 1:00 p.m. The game will be televised on Fox.

Last modified on Sunday, 25 November 2012 20:08

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  • avatar

    Guess, if we haven't already, what the next draft will look like. And again, shame on the TB area for not supporting this team better. This is a good darn team and foundation for the future. They deserve better.
  • avatar

    Wow. If we can't find enough fault to blame the QB after a loss we invent a new statistic, the "almost pick". Fire the DB coach? His CB options are a turd, a 7th round draft choice who started training camp hurt and just recently came off the injury list, a free agent who was probably signed to save the air fare from Largo and two others who were literally on the street a few weeks ago. How about just recognizing that the 9-1 Falcons were a pretty good team and our still growing youngsters were able to play them toe to toe. (On the line of course)
  • avatar

    Bucs have a tough game against Denver. Defense needs to step up and show that they can play with the big boys. DL seems to be struggling against the pass, and no pressure against opposing QB's is part of it. They are doing a pretty good job against the run but we have to start forcing more turnovers and putting more pressure on QBs if we are ever going to get past an 8 and 8 finish which in all seriousness would still be pretty good. McCoy is just not getting it done. Tackles are good but he was brought in because he was a guy who could crush the pocket. He just is not doing it. Bennett looked pretty good but of late seems to be slipping. I see Bucs going after a lot of Defensive players next Draft. Cornerback for sure, but how could we not try to pick up at least one more DL early in next yrs draft ? When you see so many missed opportunities in the Atlanta game it is difficult not to be disappointed. I know that we are doing much better than most of us thought in the beginning of the year, and a couple of more drafts and we will probably be there, But we got lucky this year as our first three draft picks are really looking good, and unfortunately we have had some guys in previous drafts that looked all world but have really disappointed as of late. Hats off to our Coaching staff which have done a fantastic job getting these guys ready for each game. Coaching is probably the difference.
  • avatar

    We went against a good team and held our ground. This team can hold their heads high; now it's time to get ready for the Bronco's and that cold weather and altitude. It's important to go Thursday to Denver after the morning practice here and work out Friday & a light practice on Saturday to get use to the altitude and cold. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    Corners are soft and give up big plays with no pass rush = loss I have said this many times before we need to shore up this defense or forget about challenging the division next yr. Also, many empty seats in the end zone is embarrasing for us fans shame on you Tampa Locals for not coming out and supporting this team in a pivotal division game.
  • avatar

    The Bucs went blow to blow with a very good football team today. I didn't expect the Bucs to win and I didn't think it would be this close. This team has a very bright future under Schiano. I have to agree with bEubanks11 about the secondary coach. Barron has gotten worse with every game and to me is always a sign of a bad coach. Young players should get better every game not worse. Wright, Biggers, Lewis and even Talib looked as bad or worse than last year playing under this guy.
  • avatar

    Bottom line is our secondary coach is terrible. The Rodgers TD run should have been stuffed but was given to the Falcons via Mark Barron. He had perfect position as the play started, he had trailing help coming from inside, he has to sense that and seal around the outside of the blocker. Instead he tries to take a more direct approach through the blocker to the ball carrrier, tripping and taking out his inside help on pursuit. He is just looking clumsy out there. Granted the situation is a tough one with all the turnover in the defensive backfield and not much talent to work with but Cooper has got to get these kids playing smarter. LJ is promising with the tenacity he plays with but c'mon man! Make the tackle. Still though, we finally are an NFL team again and can and will be competitive every week.
  • avatar

    Missed opportunities are a part of it, but right from the first drive, you could see that the corners were playing soft and Ryan made them pay all day long. The lack of real sustained pressure on Ryan probably made it worse for the DB's, but still there were not many splash plays made today. Daquan Lewis needs to be replaced as a kick returner. When he runs it out of the end zone, I shudder as I know he's getting hit around the 15. Freeman didn't make the throws when he needed to. The one to Williams at the end of the 1st half was a huge misplay, but also he had Jackson deep, which should have been a pick, and had a second almost pick. Those 2 passes if picked could have made this a no chance in winning instead of a 1 pt loss. Penalties were huge. that 42 catch and run by Martin, wiped out by 2 penalties on the O-line was tough to take. Clean it up, make the plays and we can beat the Broncos next week.
  • avatar

    We won't beat Denver but its ok. This is 8-8 team this year but the future is very bright. We need dl,cb,cb and slot receiver. We're not far from being an elite team!
  • avatar

    Gotta get TD's when you are inside the 10. Wish Mike and Vincent would have been able to connect for 6 on the trick play. Big drop by Underwood on the 3rd down crosser as well. Overall a pretty solid job by the D. Gave up a bunch of easy completions (mostly to Gonzalez) on 3rd down. The 80 yarder hurts. Johnson has to at least make the tackle on that. I agree completely with Schiano, missed opportunities on offense were the story.
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