Bucs no match for Falcons' destiny

Atlanta's Blank Celebrates (AP Photo)

They were on the road, facing a divisional foe who had won two-straight games, but nothing was going to stop the Atlanta Falcons from posting their first-ever back-to-back winning seasons...

The Falcons outmatched the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in almost every category, rolling up 397 yards to a mere 206 for the hosts.

RB Jason Snelling had a career-high 147 yards on 25 carries to lead the way, while QB Matt Ryan, still dealing with a turf toe injury, passed for 223 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Ryan's second touchdown pass, a 12-yarder to WR Roddy White who nimbly tip-toed into the endzone, broke a 10-10 tie midway through the fourth quarter.

Tampa Bay rookie QB Josh Freeman continued to make progress as a pro signal-caller, but threw two devastating interceptions including one that was hauled in by Falcons CB Brent Grimes in the endzone.

CB Chris Owens also notched a pick, his second of the season and second in two weeks, and finished third on the team with five tackles as well.

Tampa Bay linebackers Barrett Ruud (17 tackles) and Geno Hayes (12) led the way for the Buccaneers defense while LB Steven Nicholas and S Erik Coleman each had seven for the Falcons.

After finishing 11-5 last season and making the playoffs in 2008, the expectations were high for this franchise heading into the season. However, spotty defensive play and injuries plagued them all season and it took them winning their final three games in order to get over the .500 mark.

Now, head coach Mike Smith and GM Thomas Dimitroff, along with the rest of the Falcons brain trust will head into offseason looking to improve the depth along both lines as well as the secondary.

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