Few sports rivalries have been as heated in recent years as the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Few rivalries have also been as one-sided, as the Bucs have found out the hard way the past 3 years. But on Sunday, Tampa Bay finally vanquished their divisional rival, ending years of frustration and futility.
Sunday’s 16-13 win over Atlanta appeared in doubt many times. Leading in the fourth- quarter, Tampa Bay almost fell victim to another late-game comeback.
Tampa Bay’s defense was solid throughout the first-half, forcing two fumbles with sacks and an interception by Ronde Barber.
But Matt Ryan led a ferocious counterattack in the game’s closing minutes to try to pull off the win. After Ryan and Gonzalez connected for a touchdown and Matt Bryant kicked a 33-yard field goal, the Falcons pulled within three points with just over 4 minutes remaining. But Tampa Bay burned the rest of the clock for the remainder of the game, dashing any hopes of a comeback. The Falcons committed a key error by jumping offside on fourth-and-inches, allowing the Bucs to convert a final first down and effectively seal the win.
Josh Freeman completed 22 of 32 passes for 180 yards and two interceptions, while Matt Ryan was 26 of 47 with one interception and 330 yards.