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(Sunday, January 3rd)
Final Score: Atlanta 20, Tampa Bay 10
Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Matt Ryan threw two touchdown passes and Jason Snelling rushed for 147 yards on 25 carries, as the Atlanta Falcons accomplished a franchise first with a 20-10 victory over Tampa Bay at Raymond James Stadium.
Ryan was 23-of-35 for 223 yards with two interceptions for the Falcons (9-7), who posted back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in the club's 44- year history.
"We talked all week about the outcome of this game being a byproduct of our preparation and I thought that our preparation was very good," said Atlanta head coach Mike Smith. "The guys went out and executed extremely well. I'm very proud of the way the defense played."
Tampa Bay rookie quarterback Josh Freeman completed 16-of-32 attempts for 174 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Cadillac Williams had 40 yards on 19 carries and added 35 yards on four receptions for the Buccaneers (3-13), who were vying for a third straight win.
"(The Falcons) won the battle on both sides of the football," said Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris. "We weren't able to run the football and weren't able to stop them."
Following a scoreless third quarter, the Buccaneers tied the game at 10 when Freeman completed an eight-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Bryant.
After Ryan and Freeman exchanged interceptions on consecutive plays from scrimmage, the Falcons regained the lead on Roddy White's 12-yard TD reception with 7:18 to go in regulation.
Atlanta cornerback Brent Grimes then picked off Freeman's intended pass to Bryant in the end zone. Matt Bryant cemented the historic win with his second 36-yard field goal with a minute to play.
It was an unsettling start for Atlanta, which coughed up the ball on the game's opening kickoff. Tampa Bay took advantage of the Eric Weems fumble as Connor Barth drilled a 48-yard field goal.
The Falcons tied the game late in the second quarter on a Bryant field goal. A two-yard touchdown grab by Justin Peelle as time expired gave Atlanta a 10-3 lead at the break.
Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez made three grabs for 30 yards. He entered the game needing four receptions to become the first player at his position with 1,000 for his career...White had 66 yards on six catches...Falcons running back Michael Turner was inactive for the fifth time in seven games with an ankle injury...Tampa Bay tight end Kellen Winslow caught five passes for 56 yards.
01/03 17:48:04 ET