Kevin C. Cox
The Falcons lose players and the game in an ugly way to end the regular season for a Super Bowl hopeful.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers dominated from beginning to end and held on late for a 22-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons in a game the Falcons will regret and the Bucs will possibly cherish as they head into their offseason.
Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman finished with 222 yards, one touchdown and one interception but running back Doug Martin was the story as he carved up the Falcons' defense for 142 yards on 28 carries and one touchdown. It was a stark contrast to a Falcons' running game that only produced 65 yards on the ground despite both Jacquizz Rodgers and Michael Turner getting carries.
The Bucs led 16-3 late in the third quarter before the Falcons would score a touchdown on a Turner 17-yard touchdown run. Martin would answer with a 40-yard touchdown run of his own and the Bucs would hold on late after the Falcons would add another touchdown with 7:07 remaining to make it interesting.
The Falcons lost more than the game as defensive end John Abraham was carted off the field in the fourth quarter after inuring his ankle.
The Falcons finished 13-3 and head to the NFC playoffs while the Bucs finish a disappointing 7-9.
Winners: The Bucs. They aren't going to the playoffs, but they beat a division rival and knocked out one of their best players going into the playoffs. That's a win in their eyes.
Losers: The Falcons' fans. They can't be confident heading into the playoffs with how the team finished the season.
Best/worst stat of the game: Martin came to play with 142 yards rushing on 28 carries and touchdown. The Falcons combined for only 65 yards rushing on 16 carries between four rushers.
Fantasy studs/duds: Martin had 142 yards on 28 carries and one touchdown. Someone is happy they started him somewhere. Turner and Rodgers were non-existent both in this game and on somebody's fantasy team.
Odds/gambling: Falcons were 5.5-point favorites and lost.
Injury info: Abraham was carted off the field with an ankle injury.
Next team on the schedule: Neither team will have a game next week but the Falcons have a much better reason for that being so.