Buccaneers Lose in Close Battle, 24-23

With three seconds remaining, after getting 9-yards closer on a Dallas Clark reception that made it out of bounds, Josh Freeman dropped back and rolled out to his left. He bought enough time for his receivers to make it down to the end zone, stepped up and heaved a 60-yarder into the sea of hands.

The ball fell incomplete. End of ball game. Falcons 24 – Buccaneers 23.

The game was close throughout. The biggest lead of the day was six points and the lead changed six times. This snaps a Buccaneer four game winning streak, making them 6-5. The Atlanta Falcons improve to 10-1.

Tampa Bay Buccaneer quarterback Josh Freeman had a solid day passing. He hit on 19 of his 30 passes for 256 yards. In one of the more surprising plays of the game, WR Mike Williams caught a lateral and let it fly to fellow WR Vincent Jackson. That play adds 28 yards passing to Williams’ three receptions and 28 yard receiving.

RB Doug Martin didn’t have the yardage that many predicted he would put up when facing a Falcon defense that surrenders 130 rushing yards per game. Martin ended the day with 50 yards on 21 carries. His longest went for 10 yards. The Dougernaut did break into the end zone twice, both times from one yard out.

Both WRs Vincent Jackson and Tiquan Underwood caught five passes. Jackson ended the day with 96 yards and a long of 31, while Underwood collected 77 yards with a long of 39.

K Connor Barth made three of his four field goal attempts. He hit from 22, 42 and 48 yards out, missing a 56-yard try.

Defensively, LB Lavonte David again led the team with eight total tackles. Tied with him was S Ronde Barber who also leaves the game with one more interception to his name, the 47th of his career.  This game marks his 210th consecutive start, which ties him for seventh in NFL history. CB E.J. Biggers recorded six tackles of his own, and had a key sack and forced fumble on third down with the game winding down.

The Atlanta Falcons were led by quarterback Matt Ryan who ends the day with 353 yards passing, one touchdown and one interception. Ryan completed 26 of his 32 pass attempts. His leading receiver was Julio Jones who ended the day with six catches and 147 yards. 80 of them came on a one-play scoring drive in the third quarter. TE Tony Gonzalez finished with five catches and 62 yards while Roddy White’s 5 receptions went for 57 yards.

The Falcons had relative success rushing on the NFL’s leading rush defense, finishing with 79 yards on the ground. RB Jacquizz Rodgers led the team rushing with 49 yards and a score. He also added 30 yards receiving. RB Michael Turner had a TD of his own while rushing for 17 yards on 13 carries.

Falcon K Matt Bryant made one field goal on the day from 31 yards away, but missed on two attempts, one from 22 and one from 48. Bryant came into the day having made 89.3% of his field goals this season.

LB Stephen Nicholas led the team in tackles with 7 while three more tied with six a piece. Both CB Dunta Robinson and DE Kroy Biermann registered a sack on the day.

The Buccaneers will head to Denver next Sunday to face the Denver Broncos. The game kicks of at 4:05 ET.

Offense Gets Ball Back with Eight Seconds Remaining

The Buccaneers defense has made the stop and will get the ball back to the offense for one more shot at taking the win. Matt Bryant’s second missed field goal of the day will give them the ball at the Falcon 38-yard line with eight seconds left.

The Atlanta drive began with 3:32 left and exhausted all of the Buccaneers timeouts. Matt Ryan converted on a big third-down play to extend the drive and limit the Buccaneers time.

The Buccaneers have eight seconds in the game to either get out of bounds in field goal range or cross the goal line.

Another Lead Change with Michael Turner Score

The Falcons once again took over the lead on a three-yard run by RB Michael Turner. The Falcons are up 24-23 with 7:55 remaining in the game.

The Falcons drive started at the 36-yard line after a good return by Jacquizz Rodgers. Rodgers struck again on the first play from scrimmage, catching a pass out in the flat and taking it upfield 32 yards and into Buccaneer territory.

One more pass brought the ball to the 10-yard line. On first down, Matt Ryan found WR Harry Douglas, cutting the distance in half. The second down pass fell incomplete, bouncing off the hands of intended receiver Julio Jones. On third down, the Buccaneers seems to have things locked up as another Ryan pass flew out of bounds, but S Ahmad Black was called for holding, which put the ball at the three and gave the Falcons a new set of downs.

From there, Michael Turner took the handoff and walked into the end zone.

The Buccaneers will get the ball back at the 20 yards line with 7:55 to go in the game, looking to answer once again and retake the lead.

E.J. Biggers Strip Sack Leads to Buccaneer Field Goal

You could feel that a momentum swing was in the works after Doug Martin scored his second touchdown. The crowd noise reached its loudest on a Falcon third down play on the next possession.

The Falcons converted that third down on a pass over the middle to Tony Gonzalez. The next play was a 9-yard Julio Jones catch setting up a second-and-one. The Bucs held Michael Turner to no gain making it third down and once again the crowd noise reached a new high.

At the snap, CB E.J. Biggers came off the blind-side corner on a blitz and was untouched. He met the unsuspecting Matt Ryan who fumbled the ball as he was hit. DT Gerald McCoy jumped on the loose ball, giving the Bucs possession at the Atlanta 36-yard line.

The Buccaneers were forced into their own three and out, but were close enough to take a shot. Connor Barth hit his third field goal of the night from 48 yards out, extending the Buccaneer lead to 23-17.

Doug Martin Punches It In, Steals Back the Lead

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers forced their first defensive three-and-out of the day and the first Falcon punt of the afternoon with 5:21 left in the third quarter.

The Bucs took over at their own 18-yard line before two penalties set they up on their own seven-yard line with first-and-21 yards to go. From there, the Buccaneers started a drive that would end in another Doug Martin trip to the end zone!

Josh Freeman got out of the 21-yard hole with a quick 10-yard pass to Vincent Jackson before finding WR Tiquan Jackson deep down the middle on a 39-yard strike, the longest Buccaneer play of the day.

Vincent Jackson took over from there, catching a 15-yard pass to get the first down followed by a 12 yard grab on the sideline two plays later to set the Buccaneers up with another first inside the Atlanta red zone.

On a second-and-10 from the Falcons’ 11-yard line, Doug Martin took a handoff up the gut and landed just short of the goal line, converting the first down inside the one-yard line. Then the whistle blew ending the third quarter.

Then on the first play of the final quarter, Doug Martin took the carry again up the middle falling forward into the end zone for the score. It is Doug Martin’s second rushing touchdown of the day and puts him at 48 yards rushing on the day.

The Buccaneers will kick off to the Falcons with 14:56 left in the game, leading 20-17.

Falcons Strike Back, Retake Lead

The Buccaneers took a three-point lead with the Connor Barth field goal, but it was a short-lived one. 11 seconds after the field goal, on the first play of the ensuing Falcon drive, Matt Ryan hit Julio Jones for an 80-yard score.

Jones took off down the right side as Matt Ryan dropped back. The ball hit him in stride and Jones was off to the races down the sideline. With 8:26 left in the third quarter, the Falcons again are on top, 17-13.

The play takes Matt Ryan’s stats to over 250 yards and Julio Jones now has 123 yards receiving on four catches.


Buccaneers Take Lead with 42-Yard Field Goal

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.

Bucs’ Offense Efficient in Limited Opportunities

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.

Bucs and Falcons Tied at Half, 10-10

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.