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Falcons Reverse Run Game Trends In Tampa


Entering Sunday's win over the Bucs, the topics in most conversations around the Falcons were the inability to stop the run and the struggles in running the ball on offense.

The Falcons, now 10-1 with a 24-23 win over Tampa, have momentarily helped to cease those discussions.

Which was bigger in Atlanta's come-back win over the Bucs on Sunday, the running game, primarily from Jacquizz Rodgers, or the run defense? Either way you answer it, you'll be right.

Tampa's rookie running back Doug Martin came into the game as one of the hottest backs in the league. On Sunday, with Martin on top of the list of players to stop for the Falcons defense, he rushed for 50 yards on 21 carries, a 2.4 yards-per-carry average, his lowest average of the season.

Martin, the lone ball carrier in the game for Tampa, accounted for almost half of Tampa's 54 offensive plays. The Falcons kept Martin quiet all day, though they did allow him two touchdown runs, both 1-yard runs. His 50 yards rushing was his second-lowest total of the season.

On the other side of the ball, the Falcons got it done as well. They stay committed to run, especially in the first half, rushing 24 times for 79 yards, but the star of the ground game was Jacquizz Rodgers. Rodgers helped the Falcons escape with a win with his 10 carries for 49 yards, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. His 5-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was the first TD on the day for Atlanta and answered a Tampa score for seven on their first possession.

Rodgers added 30 yards through the air on two catches, giving him a 6.5 yards-per touch average from scrimmage. He also returned a kick in the fourth quarter for 43 yards following a Tampa field goal to stretch the Bucs lead to six. His return gave the Falcons improved field position, helping set up a six-play, 64-yard touchdown drive that ended with a Michael Turner 3-yard TD run.

"That was big," Rodgers said. "They had gone up six, so that was a big drive. We knew we had to score a touchdown and put us up. We did a great job of converting in the redzone."

Turner's 17 yards on the game was not as impressive as Rodgers' output, but he was in on some hard-fought yards in the first half. He also added 13 yards as a pass catcher in addition to the go-ahead touchdown run.

Matt Ryan added 13 yards on a scramble in the first half, adding to Atlanta's rushing total.

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