Falcons-Bucs final score, highlights: Atlanta earns critical NFC South win at home

WR Julio Jones
WR Julio Jones

ATLANTA -- The Falcons (2-4) picked up a big home win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3) on Sunday, beating their division rival 34-29. The win is Atlanta's second victory against a division opponent and brings them to 2-1 against other NFC South teams.

Here are some notable moments and highlights from the game.

Falcons offense engineers scoring drive at critical time

After scoring 24 points in the first half, the Falcons’ offense went cold after halftime. Atlanta had a three-and-out after receiving the opening kickoff in the second half, and it failed to move the ball past midfield in the third quarter. That stall allowed Tampa Bay to slowly chip away at the lead, eventually cutting it to 24-22 in the fourth quarter.

The Falcons needed a score, and the offense responded with a 10-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Tevin Coleman.

Ryan also came up with a gutsy 13-yard scramble on a third-and-9 earlier in the series to keep the drive alive. The touchdown pass was the 274th of Ryan’s career, which surpassed Joe Montana as the 16th-most in NFL history.

Matt Bryant drills 57-yard field goal

Matt Bryant has come through time and again for the Falcons during his career, and he did so again on Sunday. Late in the fourth quarter, Dan Quinn called upon his 43-year-old kicker for a big 57-yard field goal. As he often does, Bryant drilled the kick and gave the Falcons a 34-29 lead with just over a minute remaining.

After the kick, Bryant limped off the field with trainers and was taken into the tunnel.

Defense comes up with a pair of interceptions

Dan Quinn said leading up to the game that he wanted his defense to force more turnovers and have a “ball-hawking” mentality, and they showed that in Sunday’s game.

Damontae Kazee recorded an interception for the third straight game when he picked off Jameis Winston at the 1-yard line in the second quarter. Kazee is the first player since Kemal Ishmael in 2014 to intercept a pass in three-straight games.

Early in the third quarter, the defense got another interception at a pivotal moment. On second down with the Bucs at the Falcons’ 8-yard line and threatening to score, Brian Poole came away with an interception after the ball ricocheted off of Duke Riley’s helmet. The interception was the first of the season for Poole.

Calvin Ridley leaves game with injury

Rookie receiver Calvin Ridley left the game in the second quarter due to an ankle injury, and he did not return to the game. The Falcons have already been hit hard by injuries this early, and the last thing fans want to see is Ridley miss any duration of time in what has been a promising first year. Entering the game, Ridley led all NFL receivers with six touchdowns.

Prior to leaving the game, Ridley had three catches for 47 yards.

Ito Smith scores third career touchdown

The Falcons were without Devonta Freeman again on Sunday, which provided Ito Smith with another opportunity to make an impact. He took full advantage of that opportunity in the second quarter, scoring on a 14-yard touchdown run to give Atlanta a 14-6 lead.

With the touchdown, Smith became the first rookie in Falcons history with a rushing touchdown in three straight games. Smith finished the game with 11 carries for 22 yards and the score.

Mohamed Sanu puts Falcons on board first

After the Buccaneers scored on their opening possession of the game, the Falcons needed to answer, and that’s exactly what they did. Matt Ryan engineered a 75-yard scoring drive that ended with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu. Sanu’s effort was on full display as he ran over multiple defenders before diving to score the touchdown.

Below, you can read our live blog from today's game, which has more analysis and insights.

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