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What stood out in Falcons season finale vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Falcons beat Tampa Bay 30-17 to finish season on two-game win streak

ATLANTA -- The 2022 season has reached it's end.

The Falcons' final act was a 30-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

This game didn't add anything to the playoff perspective, with the Falcons eliminated from contention two weeks back and the Buccaneers already owning the NFC South title. That's why Tom Brady and most of Tampa Bay's offensive stars were pulled in the second half.

The Falcons relied heavily on their rookie offensive players, as they have in recent weeks, with Desmond Ridder finding a way to win his second straight start.

Let's take a look at their impact and what else stood out in this Week 18 contest:

Falcons finish on a high note

After a loss in Baltimore took the Falcons out of the playoff picture, head coach Arthur Smith said he wanted to see two things: Victories and progress.

He got both of those things in the final two games. Players were hellbent on honoring those requests, though some fans would've preferred two losses to improve NFL Draft positioning.

The Falcons entering the final week with the No. 7 overall pick, though that number will drop with the victory. It's uncertain at the time of publication exactly how far they'll go, but Smith insisted he wasn't worried about draft slotting down the stretch.

No matter where you stand on the debate, the Falcons will have an opportunity to get a top college player in the first round and plenty to spend in veteran free agency thanks to massive amounts of cap space.

Tyler Allgeier looks (again) like the real deal

I feel like we could say this every week during the second half of the season, but his consistent improvement makes the statement stronger and more legitimate.

Allgeier had yet another excellent day at the office, showing quality balance, vision, elusiveness and patience as a rusher who has clearly become the Falcons feature back. He had 135 yards on 24 carries, ultimately exceeding 1,000 rushing yards on the season. He's the second rookie to reach four digits in franchise history, and he did so with his best performance of the season.

The fifth-round pick constitutes an NFL Draft steal, getting massive value from a Day 3 pick. Not only is he a solid rusher, Allgeier has become a quality pass protector who can be on the field for all three downs. That also allowed Arthur Smith to be more creative with Cordarrelle Patterson, creating opportunities for the versatile playmaker.

And, since we're talking about record-breaking performances, we should also mention that Drake London broke Kyle Pitts' record for most receptions by a rookie.

Ridder gets on the board

Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder didn't throw a touchdown pass in his first three starts. He did so on Sunday, connecting with MyCole Pruitt on a two-yard scoring strike.

Ridder made an excellent play, running to his right with no one open. His effort to reach the pylon prompted defenders to play the run, which left Pruitt uncovered in the end zone. Ridder threw a strike that Pruitt secured for the score.

Pruitt spiked the ball hard, but Cordarrelle Patterson made sure to track the ball down and save it for Ridder as a souvenir.

The rest of Ridder's first half wasn't quite as good, with a fumble without contact and a low completion percentage.

He heated up a bit in the second half, especially on a 14-play, 80-yard drive that ended with his second touchdown pass. That was thrown to a wide-open Olamide Zaccheaus, a score that put the Falcons ahead late in the third quarter.

He ultimately finished 19-of-30 passing for 224 yards, two touchdowns and a 108.2 passer rating. He did not throw an interception in any of his four start.

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Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during Week 18.

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