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(Sunday, October 20th)
Final Score: Atlanta 31, Tampa Bay 23
Atlanta, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - Matt Ryan threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns to lead the injury-plagued Atlanta Falcons to a 31-23 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Ryan was without the services of his two favorite targets, wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White. Jones went on injured reserve after undergoing foot surgery on Monday and White, who had been battling a hamstring issue all season, was held out of the lineup.
Harry Douglas was the big benefactor, compiling a career-best 149 yards and a touchdown on seven catches for Atlanta (2-4), which had lost three straight to AFC East opponents. Jacquizz Rodgers also had a big day with eight catches for 46 yards and a pair of scores out of the backfield.
"Harry had a career day," said Falcons head coach Mike Smith. "Harry's role changed two weeks ago because of our situation at wide receiver. He stepped up to the plate and did an extremely good job today."
Mike Glennon went 26-of-44 passing for 256 yards and two touchdowns for Tampa Bay (0-6) in his third career start. Doug Martin gained 47 yards on the ground before leaving with an apparent shoulder injury, and Vincent Jackson caught 10 passes for 138 yards and two scores.
Trailing 31-17 early in fourth quarter, Tampa Bay manufactured an 18-play drive that spanned more than nine minutes. The Bucs had 1st-and-goal from the Atlanta 5 but consecutive penalties sent them back to the 30-yard line. Rian Lindell eventually kicked a 41-yard field goal, but the clock became an issue.
"Unfortunately, penalties were a big issue again," admitted Tampa head coach Greg Schiano. "Certainly very frustrated about that. It's been a long time since a team that I've coached has had this kind of issue. Put it on me. We've got to find a way to get that fixed. We had 11 penalties today, six of them in Atlanta territory."
Lindell kicked another field goal just after the 2-minute warning, but Tampa was out of timeouts and Thomas DeCoud made an athletic play to secure the onsides kick. Ryan kneeled three times to secure the win.
The Falcons went three-and-out on their first drive but got a spark from the defense when William Moore sacked Glennon and forced a fumble. DeCoud scooped up the loose ball and brought it back 30 yards for the opening score.
Atlanta marched down the field for a touchdown early in the second quarter, aided by a roughing the passer call on 3rd-and-11 late in the first. Ryan hit Douglas for a 26-yard pickup following the penalty and Tony Gonzalez hauled in a catch for 20 yards down the seam as the quarter came to an end. Facing pressure on 3rd-and-5 from the Tampa Bay 19, Ryan dumped off to Rodgers, who dragged a defender into the end zone with him.
Tampa cut into its deficit three plays into its next series when Glennon reeled back and fired a 59-yard touchdown pass to Jackson. After faking the hand-off, Glennon stepped up in the pocket and found Jackson in single coverage down the field, and the 6-foot-5 receiver jumped over cornerback Asante Samuel for the catch.
"Over the past few weeks, I've missed Vince a few times and not really even given him a chance," said Glennon. "So that was a conscious decision by me to let our play-makers make a play.
Matt Bryant kicked a 23-yarder with 7:38 left in the second quarter for a 17-7 Falcons edge and after a short Michael Koenen punt, Ryan and Douglas connected for a 37-yard score.
Lindell drilled a 36-yard kick as time expired in the first half, and Tampa trailed 24-10.
The Bucs gambled on their second drive of the second half, picking up a fourth down conversion from the Atlanta 3 before Jackson caught a 1-yard touchdown.
Rodgers' second touchdown catch early in the fourth spotted the Falcons a 14- point advantage.
Tampa has lost 10 of its last 11 games dating back to last season ... The Bucs last started 0-6 in 2009, when they lost seven straight to begin the year ... White had never missed a game in his nine-year NFL career ... Ryan improved to 87-1 when throwing at least three touchdown passes ... Tampa has a quick turnaround, as they play host to Carolina on Thursday Night Football. Atlanta will visit the Cardinals on Sunday.
10/20 18:04:27 ET