First Quarter: **The Falcons provided enough fireworks in the first quarter to make the entire day entertaining. They also got some news to help narrow down their playoff picture. While the Falcons were busy taking a 21-0 lead, the Green Bay Packers defeated the Detroit Lions, giving the Falcons the No. 5 seed in the playoffs with a win over the Bucs. Atlanta opened the game establishing the run, sending Turner on six runs for 39 yards before Jacquizz Rogers finished the drive with his first rushing touchdown of the season. The Falcons forced a quick three-and-out on defense and the offense struck again, this time in quicker fashion, turning good field position into a 17-yard Julio Jones touchdown. The Falcons were just getting started, taking the first Josh Freeman pass of the next possession away with a Dominique Franks interception. That turnover led to a 48-yard touchdown play from Jones on the very next play. Jones' second touchdown came on an impressive deep pass to Jones who fell untouched to the ground before getting up and running the remainder of of the way to the endzone for the third touchdown in 12 minutes. The quarter wouldn't end for Tampa before a John Abraham sack and strip of Freeman gave Atlanta the ball one final time.
Second Quarter:Atlanta found the endzone for the fourth time five plays into the quarter when Turner rushed for one yard on a fourth-and-1 play. The Falcons' dominant defensive effort continued on their next turn on the field when Curtis Lofton intercepted a Freeman pass and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown. Atlanta didn't back down on their next offensive possession. Turner needed only two rushes to cover 86 yards of the field. The second run was an 81-yarder with Roddy White and Julio Jones escorting him up the field as blockers. Turner's touchdown gave the Falcons a 42-0 lead and ended the running back's day, resting for the remainder of the game. He finished with 17 rushes for 172 yards and two touchdowns. The Bucs scored their first points of the day on a two-yard touchdown with just over two minutes remaining in the game. Backup QB Chris Redman took over for Ryan who was 6-for-9 for 106 yards and two touchdowns.
Third Quarter:Not much excitement for the Falcons in the third quarter, but Tampa managed to land some scores. The Falcons began resting some of their key players and went conservative in the second half. The Bucs scored 11 points in the quarter to narrow the score to 42-18.
Fourth Quarter:Things remained pretty calm for the Falcons in the fourth quarter. They allowed a final touchdown and added a field goal to give the game its final score. A Jacquizz Rodgers fumble on the Tampa one-yard line prevented an additional touchdown, but Atlanta's defense didn't allow Tampa to move beyond their own ten-yard line. Atlanta added their field goal when they recovered on downs and a Darrin Walls interception, the first of his career, closed out the highlights from Atlanta's 45-24 win.
Play of the Game:Atlanta's entire-team explosion in the first half warranted many highlights, but none were more thrilling than Turner's 81-yard touchdown run. After a 5-yard run, Turner took the handoff on the Atlanta 19-yard line and broke three tackles as he got to the edge of the defense. Racing up the sidelines with blocking supplied by Roddy White, and later Julio Jones, Turner ran untouched on the way to his longest touchdown run in his career as an Atlanta Falcon.
Player of the Game:The defense had a number of standout performances and Ryan was nearly perfect in his nine pass attempts, but Turner was the workhorse on the day. His 172 yards on the ground paced the Atlanta offense and kept the running game a threat as the Falcons used the pass as a supplemental weapon.
Turning Point:Once Atlanta intercepted Freeman's first pass of the day and scored on the next play, taking a 21-point lead the game looked over before it had hardly begun. The Falcons appeared to score at will and scoring on a one-play possession sealed the deal. When Jones caught a Ryan deep pass and fought the rest of the way into the endzone, the Falcons' message had been sent that they were taking the game away from Tampa before they ever had a chance to get into it.
Stat of the Game:0-for-6. The Falcons did many fantastic things on offense to put up the points necessary to win the game, but it was the defense that kept Tampa out of it. The Bucs weren't able to put anything together on offense and Atlanta's defense held Tampa to no first downs in the first half.
Tweet of the Game:Falcons fan and avid tweeter, @jeannathomas, described well what many Falcons fans were thinking somewhere around the second quarter as their team was on their way to a 45-24 win. It was a feeling of joy, seeing their team score at will against an NFC South opponent: "I literally can't stop laughing.
Quote of the Day:Atlanta's running game hasn't been producing at the level it has in weeks and seasons past in the past few weeks, but against Tampa on Sunday, they got it turned up just in time for a potential playoff run. Turner had 172 of Atlanta's 251 rushing yards and had two of the three rushing touchdowns on the day. Getting back to a strong running game was a point of emphasis with the Falcons all week, Turner said: "That was the talk all week between the O-line and myself, to get some production out of the run game. We'd been lagging a little bit. We've been winning some games still, but that's not how we want to play and not how we want to produce out there or how we want to look on film. We made it a point, since it's our last game, to get a little tune-up before the playoffs and go out there and do something."