By E. Marcel Pourtout, Editor
Four turnovers and 124 penalty yards sink the Atlanta Falcons as they fall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-20 in overtime at the Georgia Dome on Sunday afternoon.
With the score tied at 20-20 to end regulation, Tampa Bay (3-4) won the toss and took possession of the ball to start overtime. Connor Barth’s 31-yard field goal with 7:52 left in overtime gave the Bucs the 23-20 lead. Atlanta (6-2) took possession of the ball but Matt Ryan’s incomplete pass to Justin Hardy after being pressured by Gerald McCoy fell short at the 5:50 mark of overtime to end the game.
Atlanta outgained Tampa Bay 498-290 in total yards but turned the ball over four times. Tampa didn’t have a turnover in the contest.
“The issue for us came down to the ball,” Falcons’ coach Dan Quinn said. “Not creating any takeaways defensively, and then finishing in a minus-four turnover ratio. The penalties were certainly a factor.”
Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan completed 37 of 45 passes for a game-high 397 yards and two touchdowns. However, he also lost two fumbles and threw an interception.
“We dug ourselves too deep of a hole and expect consistently to get out of it,” Ryan said after the game. “Three of the four turnovers were on the plus-side of the 50. That’s taking points directly off the board. We did everything we wanted to offensively other than protect the football. I think we had a few too many penalties as well.”
Atlanta’s Julio Jones had 12 catches for a game-high 162 yards receiving but also lost a fumble of his own in the first quarter. Devonta Freeman had 88 yards on 21 carries for the Falcons.
Jameis Winston started the game at quarterback for Tampa Bay and completed 16 out of 29 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown.. Bucs’ running back Doug Martin had 23 rushes for 71 yards.
Atlanta tied the game at 20-20 with 17 seconds remaining in regulation when Ryan hit Jones for an eight-yard touchdown pass up the middle.
Trailing 13-3 to start the third quarter, Atlanta’s turnover troubles continued as Ryan fumbled the ball handing it off to a running back on Tampa Bay’s 20-yard line in their first possession of the second half.
Winston’s four-yard touchdown run made the score 20-3 in favor of the Bucs with 6:06 left in the third quarter.
Atlanta started its comeback attempt when Ryan hit Jacob Tamme for a four-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds remaining in the third quarter, making the score 20-10 in favor of Tampa.Tamme had 10 catches for 103 yards.
Matt Bryant hit a 24-yard field goal at the 4:56 mark of the fourth quarter, cutting the Bucs lead to 20-13 with 4:56 left in the fourth quarter.
The score was tied at 3-3 at the end of the first quarter as each team kicked field goals.
Tampa took a 6-3 lead with 3:32 left in the first half on a Barth field goal from 23 yards. Following a Ryan interception, the Bucs increased their lead to 13-3 with 30 seconds left in the second quarter on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Winston to Cameron Brate.
The Falcons had three turnovers in the first half. Ryan’s interception, a fumble by Ryan on a low snap from center Mike Person and a Jones’ fumble. Atlanta outgained Tampa Bay 217-151 in the first half.
“It is just another game and we lost,” Falcons’ defensive end Adrian Clayborn said. “We kicked ourselves in the butt. The good thing is that we can come back next week and play again.”
Atlanta’s nose tackle Paul Soliai added that “we came back hard as you can see on the scoreboard. On the defensive end, we just have to create turnovers and help our offense out.