J. Meric

Falcons vs. Buccaneers 2012: Atlanta survives in Tampa Bay 24-23

Atlanta goes for win No. 10.

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7 Total Updates since November 25, 2012
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Mike Smith pleased with Falcons' rush D vs. Bucs

Falcons head coach Mike Smith was thrilled with how his rush defense performed Sunday against Buccaneers running back Doug Martin.

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SB Nation's Atlanta Falcons blog reacts to win

SB Nation's Atlanta Falcons blog, The Falcoholic, reacts to the team's 24-23 win over divisional opponent Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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Falcons earn tough tenth win over hosting Bucs

The Atlanta Falcons improved to 10-1 on the season after managing to win yet another tough, close game on the road.

By beating the Buccaneers, who currently hold the second-best record in the NFC South at 6-5, the Falcons widen their already large wide lead on the division.

Matt Ryan had another 300-yard day passing, his sixth such performance of the season, along with one touchdown and one interception. Julio Jones caught six of Ryan's passes for 147 yards, including an 80-yard scoring reception.

Jacquizz Rodgers also turned several heads today running the ball. He managed 49 yards rushing and a touchdown on only 10 carries, and added two catches for 30 yards for good measure.

This was much more impressive than Michael Turner, who compiled just 17 yards on 13 rushes. Bleh.

On defense, Mike Nolan and a banged up Falcons defense did a commendable job of containing dangerous rookie running back Doug Martin. Atlanta limited Martin to 50 yards on 21 carries on the day.

The Falcons also kept Josh Freeman in check. He was held to 256 yards and no touchdowns passing, sacked twice (Kroy Biermann, Dunta Robinson) and knocked down in the pocket many, many more.

Surprising for the Falcons, however, was Matt Bryant. Normally golden, he missed two field goals today, including a 22-yard chip shot at the end of the first half.

In games as close as this one, every point counts.

You can call it ugly, or tough, or whatever. The Falcons have ten wins, and tighten an already strong grip on the division.

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Falcons trailing Tampa in the fourth quarter

The Falcons came into the second half, and after another lengthy first possession by the Bucs - this one spanning 13 plays and 86 yards, capped off by a field goal - it looked like the Falcons would get off to a slow start.

But the Falcons offense answered big on their first offensive play of the half as Matt Ryan hooked up with Julio Jones on an 80-yard touchdown pass.

Jones had everyone beat on the play, and displayed that dangerous down-field speed for which he was so coveted coming out of Alabama. The play put him over 100 yards on the day, the fourth such game of his career.

That scoring play put a 17-13 lead back in Atlanta's hands.

The Bucs, however, embarked on another lengthy drive that was capped off by Doug Martin's second rushing touchdown of the day, giving Tampa its current 20-17 advantage.

Martin now has 18 carries for 48 yards on the day. Josh Freeman has rebounded after a slow start as well, going 14-for-20 for 201 yards passing.

As this game enters the fourth quarter, the Falcons look to regain the lead. But Matt Ryan's second turnover of the day, a fumble recovered by Gerald McCoy of the Bucs, looks to threaten those endeavors.

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Matt Bryant hook, strong defense keeps game tied

The Falcons were entirely posed to retake the lead in the waning seconds of the first half, but a rare Matt Bryant miss - a complete hookshot from 22 yards out, no less - kept this game tied at 10 points apiece at the half.

Matt Ryan's 10-completion streak to start the game was broken on an off-target pass over the middle that was intercepted by the ageless Ronde Barber. He is now 15-for-19 passing for 173 yards.

Despite the offensive shortcomings, Atlanta's defense - consistently poor against the run this season - managed to keep rookie of the year candidate Doug Martin on lockdown, limiting him to 24 yards on eight carries thus far.

Kroy Biermann and Dunta Robinson both recorded sacks of Josh Freeman as well, adding to the strong defensive rebound after the Falcons allowed Tampa to score quickly on the game's opening drive.

The only obvious mistake would come on a Greg Schiano trick play you'd more often see in college than in pro ball. Freeman hit receiver Mike Williams on a screen pass, who then threw the ball downfield to Vincent Jackson for a gain of 28 yards.

Freeman, however, has been limited to just 61 yards on five completions through the first half.

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Jacquizz Rodgers, Doug Martin putting up points

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a statement with their first possession of this ball game.

Josh Freeman and Doug Martin led the Bucs offense on a 10-play, 81-yard scoring drive that took over six minutes off the clock. It was capped of by a one-yard touchdown run by Martin.

Freeman was a perfect four-of-four passing for 56 yards, including a 21-yard pass to former Indy tight end Dallas Clark, and Martin had 25 yards on six carries.

Matt Ryan, however, has been just as impressive: he is an also-perfect nine-of-nine passing for 90 yards. Three of those have gone to Tony Gonzalez for 43 yards.

But the real surprise has been running back Jacquizz Rodgers, who has six carries for 33 yards and a touchdown, compared to Michael Turner's 11 yards on five rushes.

After a Matt Bryant field goal early, Rodgers' scoring run in the second quarter has the Falcons up 10-7 in what has been a tight, offensively controlled game thus far.

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