Atlanta took their opening drive 72 yards, but stalled inside the redzone to only take a field goal advantage. The Bucs answered with a score of their own, driving down the field 81 yards behind the expected strong running of rookie tailback Doug Martin to take the 7-3 edge. Along the way, Tampa never required a third-down conversion to get into the endzone.
Matt Ryan, who started the game 9-for-9 passing, answered the call, marching Atlanta back once again, capping a 75-yard drive with a Jacquizz Rodgers 5-yard touchdown run.
The running of Rodgers was significant for the Falcons in the first half as they attempted to establish the run game against the NFL's best run D.
Atlanta's defense had some early struggles in the first half, but settled down and played strong. After a Matt Ryan interception on the third series on the wrong side of the field, they continued to answer the call. Following a big pass play for 28 yards, the Falcons stopped three goal line plays, including a third-and-1 stop for a 3-yard loss by
The Falcons urgency on offense conitnued to shine heading into the halftime break. They took their final possession down to the final seconds, pressuring the endzone but failed to come away with any points when
Matt Ryan closed the first half completing 15 of 19 passes for 173 yards.
The key stat for the Falcons defense is 24 yards allowed from Tampa's running offense in the first half.