Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) goes to hand off the ball in the third quarter as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Atlanta Falcons 41-28 at Raymond James Stadium. (USA TODAY Sports: David Manning)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie running back Bobby Rainey rushed for 163 yards and scored three touchdowns to ignite a 41-28 victory over the visiting Atlanta Falcons Sunday.
It was Tampa Bay’s second straight victory after starting the season 0-8.
For the reeling Falcons (2-8), it was their fourth straight loss and seventh in their last eight games. The only win came Oct. 20 against the Bucs. Turnovers continued to plague Atlanta, with quarterback Matt Ryan throwing two interceptions and Roddy White fumbling.
“Obviously that’s not how we wanted to play,” said Falcons veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez. “It’s embarrassing, honestly, to tell you the truth, the way we came out and performed, all of us. I’m getting tired of coming in with this excuse, but we’ve got to play better. We’re dropping balls, not executing, picking up blitzes. It’s all of us.”
Atlanta was down 41-13 before scoring a couple fourth quarter touchdowns.
“Any time you look up and you’re down by 30 points, I haven’t had my butt kicked like that since Sam Bradford and Oklahoma back in 2008,” Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said. “That was tough.”
The Falcons looked poised enough to score on their opening drive, picking up 52 yards on their first four plays. But on first down from the Buccaneers 35, Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy recorded sacks on consecutive plays, taking the Falcons out of field-goal range.
The Bucs took advantage on their following possession, going 73 yards on 15 plays, sparked by 44 yards rushing from Rainey. That set up a 30-yard field goal by Rian Lindell to give Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead.
What Rainey, listed at 5-foot-8, 212 pounds, lacks in size he makes up for in speed and elusiveness, reminiscent of a former Buccaneers and Falcons running back he looked up to, Warrick Dunn.
“I’m small, so I try to avoid hits,” Rainey said. “That’s how you stay in the league long enough.”
The Falcons had touchdowns on an 80-yard catch by receiver Harry Douglas, a 50-yard run by Antone Smith and a 6-yard catch by White.
NFL Team Report - Atlanta Falcons - NOTES, QUOTES
Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon was activated from injured reserve.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “We obviously didn’t play good enough football to win in any phase of the game (Sunday). The way that we played was unacceptable. The way that we coached is unacceptable.” — Coach Mike Smith, after Atlanta’s fourth consecutive defeat.
NFL Team Report - Atlanta Falcons - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
What we learned:
Atlanta can’t stop the run. The Falcons entered the game one of the worst in the league in rushing defense, and they didn’t help their cause Sunday, allowing 186 yards on the ground. That included 163 yards by rookie running back Bobby Rainey, who was the Bucs’ fourth string back a few weeks ago. “They got it going on us,” linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said. “They got good push, and (Rainey) is pretty good. It was a rough day from that aspect.”