The Tampa Bay Buccaneers began the second half with the ball, looking to break the tie they went into halftime with.
On the drive, the Buccaneers converted on three third-down attempts. The first was a short pass up the middle to Tiquan Underwood, the second a 13-yarder to TE Dallas Clark and the third came on a 31-yard bomb down the left sideline when Josh Freeman connected with a diving WR Vincent Jackson.
There, from the Atlanta 24-yard line, Freeman attempted three deep shots, but failed to connect with his targets, setting up the fourth down and 42-yard field goal attempt. K Connor Barth drilled it, making his seventh point of the afternoon.
The Falcons will start with the ball at their 20-yard line after a touchback. 8:37 remains in the third quarter with the Buccaneers on to 13-10.
Thanks to three long Atlanta drives hinging on six conversions in eight third-down attempts, the visiting Falcons ran 34 plays in the first half Sunday at Raymond James Stadium to the Buccaneers’ 17. The Falcons went into halftime with an 18:12-11:48 edge in time of possession…but no lead. Matt Bryant’s miss of a 22-yard field goal attempt as time expired kept the game in a 10-10 tie.
The Bucs were able to forge that tie in large part due to the only turnover of the first half, a Ronde Barber interception that turned away an Atlanta scoring threat and set up Connor Barth’s 22-yard field goal in the second quarter. The other factor that kept the game close: Offensive efficiency.
Tampa Bay came into the game with a stellar average of 6.1 yards per play on the season, and actually upped that to 6.2 in the first half on Sunday. The Bucs gained 105 yards on their 17 plays despite one failed drive that included two sacks of QB Josh Freeman and a 42-yard reception by RB Doug Martin that was erased by a hands-to-the-face penalty. Martin, who scored the Bucs’ touchdown on a one-yard run on the opening drive, contributed a total of 29 rushing and receiving yards.
Freeman was particularly efficient, completing five of six passes and compiling a passer rating of 109.0. His only incompletion was a purposeful throwaway on a second-and-goal play from the Atlanta one-yard line in the second quarter, when the Falcons covered all of his targets on a play-action pass attempt.
The Buccaneers will get the ball first to start the second half. If they can maintain their level of offensive efficiency in the third period – and they have a league-best +45 scoring differential in that quarter in 2012 – they could soon be back in the lead.
The Buccaneers and Falcons are headed into halftime all knotted up at 10 in what has been a game of positive runs and third-down conversions. The Falcons worked the ball all the way to the four yard line as time was running out, but K Matt Bryant shanked the 22-yard field goal wide left.
For Tampa Bay, two Buccaneers are having a good day throwing the ball. Josh Freeman is five for six for 61 yards, while WR Mike Williams decided to take to the air, hitting WR Vincent Jackson on a 28-yard pass. That bit of Buccaneer trickery set up a game-tying 22-yard field goal by Connor Barth.
Doug Martin has the Bucs touchdown, running one in from one-yard out. He set up the score nicely himself with runs of five, six and five immediately prior to his touchdown. On the day he has eight carries for 24 yards.
Vincent Jackson’s reception gives him the most yardage of all the Buccaneer receivers. WR Tiquan Underwood and TE Dallas Clark also have receptions for 20 or more yards.
Defensively, S Ronde Barber stepped in front of a Matt Ryan pass and returned the interception 28 yards. It is Barbers fourth interception of the year. Barber and LB Lavonte David are tied for the team lead with five tackles a piece.
For the Falcons, Matt Ryan has hit on 15 of his 19 passes for 173 yards and an interception. Their touchdown came on a RB Jacquizz Rodgers run on the team’s second drive of the day. Rodgers has 33 yards on seven carries while fellow RB Michael Turner has 20 yards on his seven.
Seven Falcon receivers have caught passes in the contest. WR Julio Jones and TE Tony Gonzalez each have three receptions for 43 yards, while WR Roddy White has three for 42 yards.
LB Akeem Dent leads the team with three tackles while CB Dunta Robinson and DE Kroy Biermann have recorded sacks.
The Buccaneers will begin the second half with the ball and look to take back the lead.
Connor Barth connected from 22-yards out to make it a 10-10 ball game with three and a half minutes remaining in the first half.
The drive started at the 31-yard line after Ronde Barber picked off a Matt Ryan pass. It was Ryan’s first pass of the day that didn’t land in the hands of his intended target. The Buccaneer took the short field with 5:47 remaining.
The first play of the drive started as a pass from Josh Freeman to WR Mike Williams. Rather than turning it up field, Williams caught the lateral and dropped for a pass of his own before hitting fellow WR Vincent Jackson for a 28-yard gain to the three yard line.
The Falcons managed to stop the Bucs three attempts to break the goal line. Martin ran one for two yards setting them up even closer, but an incomplete pass and run for a loss forced the field goal.
The Falcons will get the ball back at their 20-yard line after a touchback.
The Atlanta Falcons were setting up to convert a third down on a drive starting after a Buccaneer punt.
Falcon QB Matt Ryan dropped back and stepped into a pass, intended for WR Roddy White. Buccaneer S Ronde Barber broke on the ball and got there first, picking it off in the middle of the field. He broke to the right sideline in a foot race, taking the ball 28 yards to the Atlanta 31.
The Buccaneers take over in Falcon territory with 5:47 remaining, in good position to add another score.
All three drives of the game have resulted in points after Atlanta took their second possession of the game 75 yards and into the end zone on a Jacquizz Rodgers run from five yards out.
TE Tony Gonzalez caught two big third-down passes that helped keep the Falcons alive. QB Matt Ryan has yet to miss and is nine for nine with 90 yards.
Matt Bosher kicked off for Atlanta and drove the ball four yards deep. KR LeQuan Lewis took the ball out to the 20, where the Buccaneers will look to answer a Falcon score for the second time of the day. 10:19 remains in the first half, the Falcons are on top, 10-7.
Both the Buccaneers and the Falcons put together one long drive a piece in the short-but-sweet first quarter.
RB Doug Martin put up the points for the Bucs on a one-yard sweep to the left. He had 25 yards rushing on Tampa Bay’s only drive of the quarter. QB Josh Freeman has connected on all four of his passes for 56-yards. WR Tiquan Underwood leads the team with his 22-yard reception, while TE Dallas Clark added a 21-yarder.
The Falcons have put up three on a 31-yard field goal by K Matt Bryant. QB Matt Ryan has hit on all five of his passes for 33 yards. Most of the damage on their drive was on the ground as RB Michael Turner ran 4 times for 14 yards and RB Jacquizz Rodgers added 32. Julio Jones leads the receivers with 13 yards on his one reception.
The Falcons will have the ball to start the quarter on a third-and-three play from their own 32.
The Buccaneers waste no time answering Atlanta’s opening scoring drive, putting together a 10-play, 81-yard scoring drive of their own.
QB Josh Freeman hit all four of his passes for 56 yards, all to different receivers. The Bucs, known for their big plays, had a couple on the drive that put them in the lead. On an early second down Freeman hit TE Dallas Clark down the middle for 21-yards and put them in Falcon territory. Two plays later it was Freeman again, hooking up with WR Tiquan Underwood for a 22-yarder as the Bucs entered the opponent’s red zone.
From there, it was the Doug Martin show. Martin took the ball on three consecutive plays for five, six and five yards respectively. On his next touch, from the one-yard line, he patiently followed his blocks to the left along the line of scrimmage before one cut put him easily across the goal line.
The ensuing kickoff was taken from five-yard deep and returned out to the 25-yard line by Falcon KR Jacquizz Rodgers.
The Atlanta Falcons put some points on the board in the first drive of the day. They elected to establish a run game against the NFL’s top rush defense early, resulting in a scoring drive lasting nearly half of the first quarter, 7:22.
RBs Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers saw most of the action. Turner had three touches for 14 yards, while Rodgers ran the ball four times for 32 yards. His longest gain on the drive was a 20-yard tackle-breaking run.
The Falcons had a first down inside the Buccaneer red zone, but the defense held, stopping up a run for no gain, a seven-yard pass to Tony Gonzalez, and another pass that lost two.
Matt Bryant was then called upon and drilled a 31-yard field goal to put the Falcons on the board first.
The ensuing kickoff was taken out, and the Bucs will begin their first offensive drive at the 19-yard line with 7:31 left in the first quarter.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers captains, QB Josh Freeman, CB Ronde Barber, LB Adam Hayward, WR Vincent Jackson, DT Gerald McCoy and LS Andrew Economos, took to center field for the coin toss. In celebration of the Buccaneers’ Play 60 Week, on the field as honorary captains were the various winners of the 2012 Buccaneers Coach of the Week.
Tampa Bay won the toss (making it 11 of 12 coin tosses won) and have elected to defer. The Atlanta Falcons will receive today’s opening kickoff.
Michael Koenen’s opening kick flew out the back of the end zone for a touchback. The Falcons will begin the game at the 20-yard line.