Falcons offense too much for Buccaneers

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The Atlanta Falcons took control just before half-time and never looked back in a 43-28 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Falcons (6-3) maintained control atop the NFC South with the win as the Bucs (3-5) failed to get to .500.

It was a nine-yard end-around run by receiver Tyler Gabriel that gave the Falcons a 20-14 half-time advantage and momentum heading to the locker rooms. 

Both teams lost starters to injuries with Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant leaving in the first half with a left shoulder injury and Bucs center Joe Hawley out after injuring his left knee in the second quarter.

Without Trufant on Tampa's Mike Evans, the Bucs receiver had a big night with 11 catches for 150 yards two touchdowns. 

The Falcons, who lead the league in both total yards and points, racked up 461 yards of total offense against the Buccaneers. 

Jameis Winston was extremely inconsistent, going 23 of 37 for 261 yards and three touchdowns for the Buccaneers.

He was forced from the game after taking a big hit from Atlanta cornerback Jalen Collins while attempting to run in a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter. Evans also left the game late to be evaluated for a concussion. 

Matt Ryan had four TD passes as part of his 25 of 34 for 344 yards.

 

WHAT A CATCH

If the Bucs were looking for a consolation prize on Thursday, Evans had the play of the night late in the third quarter with a one-handed grab as he got hammered by Falcons safety Keanu Neal. 

MATTY ICE

While Julio Jones had a big night with eight catches for 111 yards and a touchdown, Ryan did a great job of spreading the ball around. He has easily placed himself into the MVP conversation with an NFL-best with 2,980 passing yards and 23 touchdowns.

 

SAVING CAPTAIN RYAN

"I think it's just the guys around me," Ryan said on NFL Network of his success this season. "We're deep. When you're deep, as a quarterback, it makes my job a lot easier."

 

FALCONS FOR REAL

The Falcons are the clear-cut favourites in the NFC South. Following last season's collapse after starting 6-1 only to finish 8-8, Atlanta have made the moves to be in it for the long haul.

The Falcons have a good blend of youth and veteran leaders and should not suffer another second-half collapse. 

"We're a lot tougher as a football team," Ryan said. "We're tight. We're resilient. The way guys are practicing and playing, this feels a lot different than last year."