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Week 14: What happened in Falcons home loss to the Buccaneers

The Falcons move to 6-7 on the season after their Week 14 rematch with the Buccaneers. 


ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Falcons had come back from behind in the fourth quarter, but then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reclaimed their lead in the final minute of Sunday's Week 14 rematch at Mercedes-Benz Stadium to win, 29-25.

Below is how every game recap this 2023 season will be broken down by quarter for right-at-the-buzzer consumption, starting with a note that Atlanta won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. Tampa Bay started with the ball.


The Buccaneers were able to put points on the board with the first offensive drive of the day, but only three. Their nine-play, 38-yard drive finished with a 55-yard field goal from kicker Chase McLaughlin.

When the Falcons offense took the field, it was without two starting lineman. Center Drew Dalman (ankle) and right tackle Kaleb McGary (knee) were ruled inactive due to injuries, so Ryan Neuzil and Storm Norton, respectively, were in their positions. Quarterback Desmond Ridder was sacked on his fourth play. But the unit kept on rolling downfield otherwise, making it all the way to the Tampa Bay 2-yard line … where the drive stalled out. Atlanta kicker Younghoe Koo tied the contest up with a 20-yard field goal.

(NOTE: With that field goal, Koo now has 561 career points and passes kicker Mick Luckhurst for third most in franchise history. That was also Koo's 19th consecutive made field goal, which is the fourth longest streak in franchise history.)

The Falcons then forced the Buccaneers to go three-and-out, but Tampa Bay took the ball back right away when cornerback Carlton Davis III intercepted Ridder on the first play, at the Atlanta 8-yard line. That means the Buccaneers maintained possession when the second quarter begins.

(NOTE: Before the second quarter began, it was announced Falcons left tackle Jake Matthews has a knee injury and was questionable to return. Falcons wide receiver Mack Hollins had an ankle injury and is also questionable to return.)

Scoring plays:

Buccaneers: Chase McLaughlin 55-yard field goal … 3-0, TAM
Falcons: Younghoe Koo 20-yard field goal … 3-3, ALL

End Q1: 3-3, all


Because the Buccaneers offense was handed great field position thanks to the interception, it didn't take long for it to score. At all. The first play of the second quarter was a 2-yard touchdown run by Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield.

(NOTE: The touchdown means the Falcons' streak of not allowing a touchdown ended at 10 quarters.)

With Matthews sidelined with an injury, Tyler Vrabel took his spot along the Falcons offensive line. Vrabel had been elevated from the practice squad for this game. So, that meant three of the five linemen are not the normal starters.

Well, that detail didn't seem to matter all that much when Ridder found tight end Kyle Pitts downfield for a 36-yard touchdown pass. The scoring drive consisted of six plays for 75 yards. Tie game, again.

The Buccaneers were unable to answer. The Falcons had the opportunity to take the lead, but Koo missed a 50-yard field goal attempt.

(NOTE: Hollins returned to the game. He caught a 4-yard pass from Ridder even during the failed field-goal drive.)

So, the Buccaneers pulled ahead. Not on offense, but on defense. Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield Jr. sacked Ridder and forced a fumble. Falcons fullback Keith Smith recovered it, but Buccaneers defensive lineman Pat O'Connor tackled Smith in the end zone for a safety.

(NOTE: Falcons right guard Chris Lindstrom had an ankle injury and is questionable to return. The Falcons were down to one starting offensive lineman, left guard Matthew Bergeron.)

Again, the Falcons tried to take the lead, but Koo missed a 52-yard field goal attempt as time expired for halftime.

Scoring plays:

Buccaneers: Baker Mayfield 2-yard run; Chase McLaughlin PAT … 10-3, TAM
Falcons: Desmond Ridder 36-yard pass to Kyle Pitts; Younghoe Koo PAT … 10-10, ALL
Buccaneers: Pat O'Connor safety … 12-10, TAM

Halftime: 12-10, TAM


Good news out of the locker room: Lindstrom was back in action. Bad news: Matthews was not. Average news: The Falcons' five-play, 27-yard opening drive concluded with a punt.

The Buccaneers did not capitalize, going three-and-out. Retweet for the Falcons. Neither team was being productive early on in this period. Because both of them added another set of three-and-outs.

(NOTE: Falcons defensive lineman Kentavius Street suffered a shoulder injury and was ruled out.)

Tampa Bay broke the trend when the Buccaneers compiled a nine-play, 66-yard scoring drive. Mayfield complete a short pass to running back Rachaad White, who then turned that into a 31-yard touchdown reception.

Atlanta could not figure out how to do the same. The Falcons cobbled together a eight-play, 23-yard drive that was topped off with their fourth consecutive punt. The Buccaneers had the ball to get the final 15 minutes of work going.

Scoring plays:

Buccaneers: Baker Mayfield 31-yard pass to Rachaad White; Chase McLaughlin PAT … 19-10, TAM

End Q3: 19-10, TAM


The Falcons must have figured out how to fix their production problem during the brief break between quarters, because with their first offensive drive in the fourth quarter, they were able to score a touchdown. It took seven plays for 67 yards -- mainly accomplished by a 33-yard completion between Ridder and running back Bijan Robinson. It was ultimately Robinson who sealed the deal with a 3-yard scoring run.

There was a moment where the Buccaneers could have extended their lead by a touchdown of their own. But the 20-yard pass from Mayfield to wide receiver Mike Evans was ultimately ruled incomplete in the end zone after a challenge. Tampa Bay had to settle for a 38-yard field goal instead, just nudging further a head by a little rather than a lot. The Falcons remained within a touchdown of the Buccaneers.

Boy, did Atlanta close that gap right after. The Falcons moved quickly with a five-play, 75-yard drive that Ridder put the exclamation point on himself with a 6-yard touchdown run. Then Ridder completed a pass to London for a successful 2-point conversion. London had caught a 45-yard deep ball from Ridder during that drive, which really set Atlanta up for the score.

And then the Falcons defense stepped up to the task of holding the Buccaneers at a deficit with 3:23 remaining on the clock.

Atlanta couldn't pull off the task. Tampa Bay converted a third-and-10 at the Atlanta 47-yard with a 32-yard pass from Mayfield to wide receiver Chris Godwin. After that, the Buccaneers were able to pull off a victory thanks to a 11-yard touchdown pass from Mayfield to tight end Cade Otton. And that was that.

Scoring plays:

Falcons: Bijan Robinson 3-yard run; Younghoe Koo PAT … 19-17, TAM
Buccaneers: Chase McLaughlin 38-yard field goal … 22-17, TAM
Falcons: Desmond Ridder 6-yard run; 2-point pass conversion … 25-22, ATL
Buccaneers: Baker Mayfield 11-yard pass to Cade Otton; Chase McLaughlin PAT … 29-25, TAM

*Final: *29-25, TAM

Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during Week 14.

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