Bucs battle back after early deficit but fall to Falcons, 34-20

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones makes the catch ahead of Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Ryan Smith during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday Nov. 26 2017 in Atlanta. The Atlanta Falcons won 34-20. (AP

Rekindling memories of the Super Bowl, the Falcons (7-4) almost squandered a big lead to a team playing its third game without injured quarterback Jameis Winston.

What could've been a disaster after a fumble by Atlanta running back Terron Ward in the red zone, the Falcons defense picked the ideal time to make a key stop to give the ball back to Ryan and the offense. Matt Ryan threw a 25-yard touchdown to him on the next drive for a 17-3 lead, and Atlanta led 20-6 at halftime.

Jones needs two more catches in the second half to set a standard for the most receptions in a player's first 90 games. Jones had two touchdowns, and Atlanta (7-4) went 11-for-14 on third down against the NFLs worst third-down defense, piling up 516 total yards. During the final minutes of the NFC showdown, the game was fairly back and forth, but Atlanta did just enough to top Tampa Bay and escape with a 34-20 victory over the Buccaneers.




With Jones playing this well, they now know that as long as he's on the field, they must be afraid. Tevin Coleman sealed the game with his second rushing touchdown with under two minutes remaining. Looking for his third straight victory since taking over for Winston, the backup quarterback finished 27 of 44 for 283 yards, setting up a pair of short touchdown runs by Peyton Barber.

The TD toss came from wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, who took the snap as a wildcat tailback.

Sanu's bomb to Jones out of the wildcat formation early in the second quarter to break a 3-3 tie was the six-year veteran's third National Football League touchdown pass. Sanu botched a fake handoff to Tevin Coleman, but regained control of the ball and hit Jones in the end zone. "We've got a little swag back".

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