Falcons Hang on Over Bucs in Classic Matchup


It was October 22, 1995 in Week 7 when the 4-2 Falcons marched in to face the 5-2 Buccaneers at old Tampa Stadium in a crucial NFC showdown. This was the sixth straight year that the teams had squared off against each other, which was the longest stretch in the series that dates back to its inception in 1977.  It was also seven years before the teams would be re-aligned into the same division.

After starting the game behind 7-0, Atlanta got on the scoreboard in electrifying fashion in the second quarter thanks to the blazing speed of WR Eric Metcalf. He got behind Tampa S Tony Bouie, hauled in a short pass from QB Jeff George at the 50-yard line, and scampered untouched the rest of the way for a 62-yard score.

The Bucs were stopped on their next possession and had to punt. The Birds capitalized when WR Bert Emanuel caught a 32-yard touchdown to break the tie.

Tampa Bay countered with a short 1-yard run from RB Erric Rhett in the very busy second quarter also to knot the score at 14-14 at the half. Emanuel got into the act again by scoring on a 30-yard touchdown catch to record his first two-score game of his career to begin the third.

The back-and-forth scoring between Emanuel and Rhett continued as Rhett capped an eight play, 54-yard drive by busting over from the two-yard line and the teams were even again at 21 heading into the final quarter.  

Tampa Bay K Michael Husted couldn't capitalize to take the lead as he missed a field goal from 39-yards out. But Falcons K Morten Andersen stepped up and took advantage on the next possession and broke the tie with on a 30-yard field goal with 7:18 remaining to finish off a productive 13-play, 59-yard drive. The Birds defense was stout down the stretch and hung on for a 24-21 victory.

Atlanta boasted two running backs who gained 50 or more yards in a game for the first time in five years as Craig "Ironhead" Heyward carried 16 times for 69 yards and a young Jamal Anderson came off the bench to add 56 yards on eight totes. George tossed three TD's and Metcalf amassed 106 yards receiving on just four catches while Emanuel added 121 yards on nine receptions, including the two scores.

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