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What to Watch For in Week 17


The 2009 season comes to an end with the Falcons traveling to Tampa Bay to face the Buccaneers for the second time this season. The Bucs are looking to take a three-game winning streak into the offseason as the Falcons hope to get the franchises first back-to-back winning seasons.

Special Teams

The Buccaneers are coming off a come-from-behind win over the saints and a key element in that comeback was a punt return for a touchdown. Michael Spurlock returned a punt 77 yards for a score to tie the game with just more than two minutes to play. The Saints had a chance to win it in regulation, but missed a last-second field goal. The Buccaneers handed the Saints their second loss of the season 20-17

Field goals played a huge difference in the Buccaneers first game first game against the Falcons. Jason Elam missed a field in the fourth quarter forcing the Falcons to score a touchdown to win. The Buccaneers also had a blocked punt lead to points earlier in the Week 12 game.

The Falcons refreshed their kicking game earlier this season by replacing Jason Elam with Matt Bryant and bringing in long snapper Joe Zelenka. Bryant has gone 5-for-6 since joining the team.

Watch for Falcons special team play to have a big impact, as the team fights of injuries and face the Buccaneers.

Ball Protection

The Buccaneers were able to overcome two interceptions last week and beat the Saints in overtime. The week before the then 1-12 Bucs were able to intercept Seattle's Matt Hasselback four times and dominate the Seahawks 24-7.

Josh Freeman has thrown 16 interceptions and has only one start this year without throwing a pick.

That was against the Falcons in Week 12.

The Falcons secondary has had five interceptions in the last two games with Brent Grimes leading the team with 5 picks on the season.

The Falcon defense has played extremely well late into the year holding their opponents to 13 combined points in the last two games and forcing six turnovers.
Watch for the Falcons secondary to continue its recent success and attempt to cause turnovers from the rookie quarterback.


SCOUTING REPORT:The Falcons have a date with history against Bucs * FALCONCAST:J. Mike and Matt preview the Falcons-Bucs game * MULTIMEDIA:Video interviews and highlight videos from Falcons-Bucs * J. MIKE'S MISSIVES:More on the Falcons from the Managing Editor * GAMEDAY LIVE:More pregame coverage and ingame features from * GAME CENTER:Stats and more in the Game Center * WHAT TO WATCH:Some key aspects of the game to keep your eye on * NOTES AND NUMBERS:Interesting facts and numbers for Falcons-Bucs * EXPERT'S TAKE:Thoughts on the NFL playoff picture from Clark Judge * TRANSACTIONS:Falcons place Dahl and Houston on injured reserve * TRANSCRIPTS:Smith Monday | Wednesday | Thursday * QUOTABLE:Falcons talk about Bucs in Wednesday open locker room

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