- Associated Press - Sunday, December 6, 2015

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - All the Atlanta Falcons can do is look ahead after another stinging defeat.

Jameis Winston threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans with 1:39 remaining, giving the surging Tampa Bay Buccaneers a 23-19 victory over the Falcons on Sunday.

Atlanta (6-6) has lost five straight and six of seven overall.

“We can’t change anything that’s happened up to this point,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. “We have to really focus on what we can do to be better moving forward. We’ve got to find a way to get it done.”

The Falcons play at NFC South-leading Carolina next Sunday.

“Keep fighting, that’s all it is,” Atlanta safety William Moore said.

Winston also scored on a 5-yard run and scrambled up the middle of the field 20 yards on third-and-19 to extend his third game-winning drive since going first overall in this year’s draft.

It was Winston’s timely run and ability to make another 10 yards after appearing to be stopped at the Atlanta 33 that typified what the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner has meant to Tampa Bay, which has overcome a slow start to contend for a playoff berth. He completed 18 of 27 passes for 227 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

“That third-and-19, it really hurt us,” Falcons linebacker O’Brien Schofield said. “Those are the situations where as a team we’ve got to find a way to finish and get the win.”

Lavonte David sealed the fourth victory in six games for the Bucs (6-6), intercepting Ryan’s pass intended for Julio Jones on Atlanta’s final possession.

“It’s obviously a disappointing loss,” Ryan said. “We had opportunities. At the end of the game, obviously, you don’t want to turn it over on the first play of the drive. That was disappointing as well.”

Doug Martin rushed for 95 yards and one TD for Tampa Bay, which drove 80 yards in 12 plays to take the lead for good. Evans finished with five receptions for 61 yards.

“Every game, to me, is the most important game,” Winston said. “We are battling to get into the playoffs.”

Ryan was 30 of 45 for 269 yards, including a 5-yard TD throw to Nick Williams that put the Falcons up 19-16 early in the fourth quarter. His late interception was Atlanta’s only turnover of the game.

Shayne Graham kicked four field goals, two of them in the final 1:01 of the opening half to give the Falcons a 9-6 lead.

“The loss today, that’s as tough as it gets for us,” Atlanta coach Dan Quinn said. “The finish was at hand. For us, finishing is about doing right longer, and we didn’t get that done.”

Winston also led a game-winning drive in overtime to beat the Falcons in Atlanta on Nov. 1.

In this one, he completed two passes before a throw intended for Evans glanced off the receiver’s hands and was intercepted by Desmond Trufant at the Falcons 49.

Ryan used a pair of short completions to Jones to position Graham for a 52-yard field goal on the last play of the half. A 29-yarder on the opening possession of the third quarter expanded Atlanta’s lead to 12-7.

Jones had eight catches for 93 yards, going over 100 receptions in a season for the second straight year. The league’s receiving leader has 102 catches for 1,338 yards through 12 games.

The Bucs played without three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who sat out after injuring his left hand during the previous week’s 25-12 loss at Indianapolis.

NOTES: The Falcons had just one TD in three red-zone trips. “We feel like we have a good plan coming into it,” Ryan said. “You don’t see results, it’s disappointing.” … Atlanta’s Devin Hester returned from a toe injury. He averaged 23.5 yards on two kickoff returns and returned a punt three yards. … Falcons TE Tony Moeaki (hamstring) and K Matt Bryant (quadriceps) didn’t play.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide