Falcons fans are learning to deal with these kinds of games. Close games are becoming a way of life for the Falcons and their family and on Sunday, they took another one down to the wire, leaving Tampa with a 24-23 win.
The first half was dominated by a pesky Falcons run game and a stingy Falcons run defense that helped to slow one of the league's hottest offenses. The run defense continued into the second half, despite allowing two touchdowns on the day from Tampa running back Doug Martin. Atlanta held Tampa's run game to 50 yards in the win.
After a 10-10 tied at the half, both teams came out ready to put points on the board. Tampa struck first, taking a long drive into Atlanta territory, but once again only able to come away with a field goal.
The Falcons didn't waste any time answering that score, using what the successful first half of running the ball set up. On their first play of the third quarter, Matt Ryan hit Julio Jones in stride and coverage for an 80-yard touchdown to take a 17-13 lead.
Julio Jones, who was questionable entering the day, had six catches for 147 yards, a career high for the second-year receiver. Jones had one touchdown on the day.
Despite the convincing quick score, Tampa responded with two straight scores of their own, taking back the lead and setting up Ryan's 15th career fourth quarter comeback. Ryan and the Falcons drove 64 yards and capped the drive with a Michael Turner 3-yard touchdown run. The touchdown was Turner's TD was the 57th of his career, tying him with Terance Mathis for the franchise lead in touchdowns.
The Falcons defense slammed the door on the game by stopping Tampa late in the fourth quarter, setting up a 56-yard field goal attempt that the Bucs failed to convert.
With the one-point lead, Atlanta took over with 3:32 remaining in the game and essentially put it on ice with a 12-yard run by Jacquizz Rodgers and an 8-yard third-down conversion reception by Roddy White.
Tampa had one final shot with a few seconds remaining in the game, taking two plays, including a deep shot in the endzone, but came up with nothing and once again the Falcons escaped another close one.