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Falcons vs. Buccaneers on 'Thursday Night Football': Highlights from Atlanta's 43-28 win

Matt Ryan threw four touchdowns and no interceptions to keep the Falcons (6-3) well in control in the NFC South.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Final score: Falcons 43, Buccaneers 28

Third quarter score: Falcons 37, Buccaneers 14

Halftime score: Falcons 20, Buccaneers, 14

First quarter: Falcons 10, Buccaneers 7

Falcons/Buccaneers highlights & injuries

Who the heck is Taylor Gabriel? He's a Falcons receiver who's tearing up the Bucs.

While getting sandwiched by two defenders, Jameis Winston somehow completed this left-haned flip pass.

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones showed unbelievable body control in scoring this touchdown.

Injuries: Bucaneers QB Jameis Winston suffered a knee injury in the fourth quarter and is questionable to return. Bucs WR Mike Evans was evaluated for a concussion. Falcons CB Desmond Trufant has been ruled out for the rest of the game with a shoulder injury. Bucs C Joe Hawley is out for the rest of the game with a knee injury. Bucs DE Howard Jones is out for the rest of the game with a knee injury.


Before the game

Despite Atlanta's hot start, the NFC South is still very much up for grabs. Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers can stake their claim to the division's top spot when the Falcons head down to Tampa for a Thursday Night Football showdown.

The Falcons stumbled out of the gate in 2016 when they lost to the Bucs, but recovered brilliantly with a four-game winning streak that established Atlanta as one of the NFL's most explosive offenses. Matt Ryan ascended to MVP candidate while throwing for nearly 330 yards per game, but a limited defense hampered the team in losses to the Seattle Seahawks and San Diego Chargers. Atlanta scored 24 and 30 points in defeat, showcasing a potentially fatal flaw on its road to the postseason.

However, Ryan led his offense back to the win column in Week 8 when he captained a comeback win over the Green Bay Packers in a 33-32 home victory. On Thursday, he can seek revenge for that Opening Day loss when his Falcons head south to Florida.

Tampa Bay's 2016 has been a bit rockier. The Buccaneers' defense has been even worse than the Falcons' in losses, giving up an average of 33.5 points per defeat. Derek Carr threw for 514 yards against a porous secondary in his Raiders' 30-24 overtime win against the Bucs — a game in which Oakland committed more penalties than any other team in NFL history and still managed to win.

Tampa Bay has also suffered from Winston's sophomore slump. The former Heisman winner has regressed after a promising rookie campaign. He's on pace to commit more turnovers (25) while throwing for nearly a full yard less per attempt (6.6) as the Bucs' offense has sputtered in defeat. He may struggle on Sunday without running backs Doug Martin or Jacquizz Rodgers to take the pressure from his shoulders. Both have been ruled out for Week 9 due to injury.

Pregame reading

How more play-action passes may be the key to unlocking Jameis Winston's potential (Bucs Nation)

How the Falcons and Buccaneers have taken different paths since their Week 1 meeting (Falcoholic)

The Falcons have scars, and they're a better team because of it (SB Nation)