The Atlanta Falcons hosted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in the final game of the NFL regular season. The Falcons were already well aware that they are heading to the playoffs, so they entered the game with the knowledge that a win or loss could impact their seeding in the postseason. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, had only one thing on their minds: win this game to keep from ending the season with a 10-game losing streak.
The game got off to a rough start right away as the Falcons reeled off three quick touchdowns in the first quarter. By the time the Bucs got on the board with just over two minutes remaining in the half, the Falcons had already scored 42 straight points and had inserted their backup quarterback.
From the time the Bucs finally got on the board, they scored 24 unanswered points. Unfortunately, the early onslaught from Atlanta was too much to overcome and the Tampa Bay losing streak extended to ten straight games. They lost the game by a final score of 45-24 to finish the season with a 4-12 record, including going 1-7 on the road.
Josh Freeman had a drastically uneven game. He finished having gone 31-for-45 with 274 passing yards and two touchdowns, but also threw a whopping three interceptions. His two touchdown passes were both to Dezmon Briscoe, who had 53 yards on eight catches. His 11 targets made him Freeman's favorite option. Preston Parker led all Tampa Bay receivers with 74 yards on four catches, thanks to a long of 48 yards. Both teams recorded a pick-six. For the Buccaneers, Elbert Mack returned a Chris Redman interception 40 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
For more on the Buccaneers, please visit Bucs Nation, SB Nation's Buccaneers blog. For the perspective from the other side, please visit SB Nation Atlanta and The Falcoholic, SB Nation's Falcons blog.