The Falcons drove to the Tampa Bay 4 in the closing seconds of the half, but wasted an opportunity to regain the lead when Matt Bryant hooked a 22-yard field-goal attempt wide left as time expired. The Atlanta kicker missed a 48-yarder with 8 seconds left, giving the Bucs one more chance to pull out what would have been their first signature victory under first-year coach Greg Schiano.
“It was a hard-fought game by both teams, a very physical game,” Schiano said. “But I do think missed opportunities were a big part of it. There were some chances both offensively and defensively, and in the kicking game.”
Freeman finished 19 of 30 for 256 yards, and Vincent Jackson had five catches for 96 yards. A big factor in the loss, though, was Atlanta’s held the Bucs to field goals after each of Ryan’s turnovers, once after Tampa Bay had 1st-and-goal at the Atlanta 3.
“I thought our defense did an outstanding job again. They were put in some tough situations after turnovers,”Falcons coach Mike Smith said, adding that slowing Martin was one of the keys to the game as well.
“We knew it was going to be one of our ‘musts,’ and I thought we did a nice job,” Smith added. “I thought we played the run extremely well, controlled the line of scrimmage. That is an outstanding running back.”
Notes: Falcons starting cornerbacks Asante Samuel (shoulder) and Dunta Robinson (head) left the game with injuries in the third quarter. … Barber, who made his 210th straight start to tie Jim Otto for the seventh-most consecutive starts in NFL history, has 47 career interceptions. … Martin has 1,050 yards rushing yards, eighth-most in a season by a Tampa Bay running back. …Gonzalez had five receptions for 62 yards, and Roddy White had six for 57 yards for Atlanta.
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