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                 === Bucs best top-seeded Falcons in finale ===
 
 Atlanta,  GA (Sports Network)  - Doug Martin carried the ball 28 times for 142
 yards and a touchdown to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 22-17 win over the
 Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
 
 Josh  Freeman  completed 19-of-35 passes for  222 yards with one touchdown and
 one interception, while Mike Williams had six catches for 65 yards and a score
 for  the  Buccaneers (7-9), who  failed to reach  the postseason for the fifth
 straight season.
 
 "The  win  is important in itself.  I am glad we  could go out with this win,"
 Martin said. "What we wanted to do was end the season off with a win. You have
 to  take your  hats off to all  these guys being competitors and just fighting
 for each other. I am proud of these guys."
 
 Matt  Ryan  was 28-for-44  passing for  238 yards and  a touchdown and Michael
 Turner  added a  rushing score for the Falcons (13-3), who have already locked
 up the top seed in the NFC and a first-round bye in the upcoming playoffs.
 
 "It's  huge  (to have a  first-round bye), that's  our advantage. That is what
 everyone is playing for," Turner said. "It's the best position in the playoffs
 as  possible, but once  you get there it doesn't mean anything. You still have
 to go out there and do you job and pull out some wins."
 
 Connor  Barth's 48-yard  field goal put the  Bucs up 3-0 in the first quarter,
 but Matt Bryant's 28-yarder knotted the game up four minutes later.
 
 Freeman's  8-yard  touchdown pass to Williams  gave Tampa a 10-3 lead near the
 midway point of the second quarter. Freeman took the snap, spun to his left to
 avoid the rush, then fired a bullet to Williams who was able to touch two feet
 in bounds before falling out the back of the end zone.
 
 Barth  added  a 22-yard  field goal with  just over three  minutes left in the
 first half to give the Bucs a 13-3 lead at the break.
 
 Tampa stretched its lead to 16-3 on the opening drive of the second half after
 Barth split the uprights from 42 yards out.
 
 Freeman's  pass on the Bucs' next touch was picked off by Asante Samuel at the
 Tampa  32  and returned to  the 21. Two  plays later Turner  ran it in from 17
 yards out to pull within 16-10.
 
 Tampa  Bay, though,  countered with a 40-yard Martin touchdown run to push its
 cushion  to 22-10. The  Bucs attempted a two-point conversion to make it a 14-
 point  game, but Freeman's pass to Williams in the back left corner of the end
 zone sailed out of bounds.
 
 After  exchanging  punts, the Falcons  pieced together a 9-play, 52-yard drive
 capped off with Ryan's 7-yard pass to Harry Douglas on 4th-and-goal.
 
 Earlier  in the march, Ryan hit Julio Jones on a screen pass and Jones took it
 18 yards upfield to the Bucs' 29. A 13-yard completion to Jacquizz Rodgers two
 plays later got the ball inside the Tampa 10-yard line.
 
 Atlanta  had one last chance to win the game after forcing a Buccaneers' punt.
 Ryan  completed  three consecutive passes to  put the ball at the Falcons' 33.
 Ryan,  though, threw  four straight incomplete passes and turned the ball over
 on downs.
 
 The  Falcons not only  lost their first game at home this season, but may have
 lost a key piece on defense as defensive end John Abraham left the game in the
 fourth  quarter with  an ankle  injury. Abraham  was helped  off the  field by
 trainers  and  was later carted to  the locker room.  He did not return to the
 game.
 
                                   Game Notes
 
 Tampa  Bay holds  a 20-19  advantage in  the all-time  series ...  Freeman has
 thrown  for  a Buccaneers single-season  record 4,065  yards. It was the first
 time  the four-year pro has reached the 4,000-yard plateau ... The Falcons had
 an 11-game home winning streak snapped ... Atlanta has finished 13-3 in two of
 its last three seasons.
 
 
 12/31 00:49:41 ET