The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had the Atlanta Falcons right where they wanted them in the fourth quarter; trailing by six and the ball in the hands of their comeback kid, Josh Freeman. As he has done time and time again Freeman moved the ball well in the final minutes of the fourth quarter and the magic was beginning to reappear. A third down conversion from the half yard line for 43 yards, another third and short by Cadillac Williams, a defensive pass interference penalty to move the ball in to the Falcons red zone where the Buccaneers faced their final test, Fourth and 1 from the 3-yard line.
Unfortunately today had a different ending. LeGarrette Blount’s dive to the right side came up inches short of a first down mark and the Falcons would hold on to their six-point victory over the Buccaneers in the Georgia Dome.
The Falcons star running back Michael Turner iced the game with a bruising third down pickup with just over a minute left to play and the Bucs out of timeouts. Turner’s last run capped a dazzling day in which he continued the trend of running backs gashing the Buccaneer defense. Turner finished with 107 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan protected the football all day while passing 235 yards and a score. In fact, this is the first game all season that Tampa Bay did not force a turnover while also committing two of its own on two interceptions by Josh Freeman.
Freeman was shaky at times and clutch at others and finished the day with 189 yards and two touchdowns but also those two interceptions. Rookie wideouts Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams both caught touchdowns. Michael Spurlock also made a big impact by returning a punt 89 yards for a touchdown and catching a huge third down pass late in the fourth quarter.
The Buccaneers played well and showed a lot of fight today and should not hang their heads for losing this one. It was a tough fought match between the two best teams in the NFC South and on this day the home team came out on top.