Bucs clinch fifth seed in NFC playoffs with win over Falcons

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jan 3, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) greet after the game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

January 4, 2021

Tom Brady passed for 399 yards and four touchdowns to help the Tampa Bay Buccaneers record a 44-27 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon at Tampa, Fla.

Antonio Brown (11 receptions, 138 yards) and Chris Godwin (five catches, 133 yards) each caught two touchdowns for the Buccaneers (11-5), who notched their fourth straight win. Ronald Jones II rushed for a touchdown while Brady completed 26 of 41 passes with one interception during the 99th 300-yard passing game of his career.

Matt Ryan completed 29 of 44 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for a score for the Falcons. Russell Gage (nine catches, 91 yards) and Hayden Hurst caught touchdown passes but couldn’t prevent Atlanta (4-12) from losing its fifth straight game.

Buccaneers wideout Mike Evans became the first player in NFL history to exceed 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first seven seasons before leaving with a left knee injury late in the first quarter. Evans, who was tied with Hall of Famer Randy Moss at six, needed 40 yards and got 46.

Tampa Bay clinched the fifth seed in the NFC playoffs and will be making its first appearance since 2007. The Buccaneers will visit the NFC East champion next weekend.

Tampa Bay outgained Atlanta 485-385.

The Falcons trailed 23-10 at halftime before getting back in the game with 10 third-quarter points. Atlanta ran 26 plays in the stanza to Tampa Bay’s five.

Ryan connected with Gage on a 19-yard scoring pass to pull the Falcons within six and Younghoe Koo kicked a 21-yard field goal with 30 seconds left as Atlanta moved within 23-20.

But the Buccaneers responded with a nine-play, 75-yard excursion and Jones scored from the 3 to make it 30-20 with 11:13 remaining in the contest.

Less than three minutes later, it was again a three-point margin after Ryan tossed a 1-yard scoring pass to Hurst on fourth-and-goal.

But Brady threw two touchdown passes in a 62-second span to end the suspense. He threw a 4-yard scoring pass to Godwin with 3:54 left to make it 37-27 and added touchdown No. 40 on the season when he teamed with Brown on a 30-yard score with 2:52 remaining.

Brady passed for 202 yards and two touchdowns in the first half as the Buccaneers held the 13-point advantage.

Brady capped Tampa Bay’s game-opening drive with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Godwin. The team traded field goals later in the first quarter before Brady threw a 25-yard dart to Brown to give the Buccaneers a 17-3 lead with 12:30 left in the first half.

Ryan Succop kicked field goals of 38 and 25 yards later in the quarter, sandwiched around Ryan’s 1-yard keeper.

–Field Level Media