1:00 PM ET, November 17, 2013
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finally put an end to their skid, but it came far too late to salvage their season.
Things also appear lost for the Atlanta Falcons, whose last win came against Tampa Bay four weeks ago.
The Buccaneers hope to build on their first victory and avoid a ninth loss in 11 meetings to the visiting Falcons on Sunday.
Tampa Bay (1-8) became the league's final team to win with Monday's 22-19 victory over Miami. After blowing a 15-0 lead, the Buccaneers got the go-ahead score with Bobby Rainey's 1-yard TD run to cap an 80-yard drive in the fourth quarter. The defense then sealed the win with Darrelle Revis' interception with 1:35 to play.
Coach Greg Schiano is optimistic his players will be able to play more relaxed moving forward.
"Getting it out of the way, I don't care who you are, as the losses mount getting that (first) one win becomes harder and harder (to get)," Schiano said. "I hope now that our guys can just go out and play. Although they've said there's no additional pressure, I think human nature puts that pressure on yourself."
Atlanta (2-7) hasn't won since a 31-23 victory over Tampa Bay in Week 7, dropping three games by a combined 61 points including a 33-10 defeat to Seattle last Sunday.
For a team that posted a 56-24 regular-season record over the last five years under coach Mike Smith -- second only to New England -- being all but eliminated from the playoff hunt is an unfamiliar spot for the Falcons. Smith received some criticism for leaving quarterback Matt Ryan and other stars in late against the Seahawks despite the lopsided deficit.
However, he isn't so ready to surrender despite the fact that Atlanta only clings to a minute chance of reaching the playoffs.
"This season is not over," said Smith, whose previous worst record was 9-7 in 2009. "I know people want to say doom and gloom. That's not the case. We've not played the type of football that we'd like to play in the first nine games. It is well below our expectations and we're going to continue to work and get ready to play the Buccaneers."
The Falcons have been ineffective on the ground in the last three weeks despite the return of Steven Jackson, averaging 56.3 rushing yards per game as a team with no scores. A knee injury to left tackle Sam Baker hasn't helped their cause.
Atlanta, which averages an NFL-worst 64.3 rushing yards, was held to 18 yards on 18 carries last month against Tampa Bay.
"The thing about it is you have to keep chipping away. No one is going to come in the locker room and save us. We have to save ourselves. ... We can't dwell on it," said Jackson, who was held to 11 yards on nine carries against Seattle. "One thing about being a professional, you have to acknowledge the things you made a mistake on and move on to the next one."
The lack of an effective running attack and big deficits have also left more pressure on Ryan and the passing game. Ryan has posted a 61.6 passer rating over his last three games with three TDs and seven interceptions.
Perhaps facing Tampa Bay can help him get back on track given he was 20 of 26 for 273 yards and three TDs in the first meeting.
Unlike Atlanta, the Buccaneers' running game appears to be heading in the right direction. Although Mike James broke his ankle Monday to join Doug Martin as the team's second back to suffer a season-ending injury, Brian Leonard and Rainey proved to be a potent duo, combining for 102 yards on 28 carries. Tampa Bay was coming off a season-high 205 rushing yards against Seattle.
The Falcons should be bolstered by the expected return of linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who hasn't played since Week 2.
Tight end Tony Gonzalez's status is still uncertain after he momentarily left Sunday's contest due to a toe injury.
Atlanta will be without running back Jason Snelling after he was arrested early Friday morning on misdemeanor charges of marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Smith made the announcement Saturday, saying he was "disappointed in what has transpired over the last 48 hours."
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers
|Avg Points Allowed||29.2||23.7|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||ATL|
|Rush Yds Allowed||ATL|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Series tied 12-12|
|Oct 20, 2013||ATL 31, TB 23|
|Dec 30, 2012||ATL 17, TB 22|
|Nov 25, 2012||ATL 24, @TB 23|
|Jan 1, 2012||ATL 45, TB 24|
|Sep 25, 2011||ATL 13, @TB 16|
|Dec 5, 2010||ATL 28, @TB 24|
|Nov 7, 2010||ATL 27, TB 21|
|Jan 3, 2010||ATL 20, @TB 10|
|Nov 29, 2009||ATL 20, TB 17|
|Dec 14, 2008||ATL 13, TB 10|
|Sep 14, 2008||ATL 9, @TB 24|
|Dec 16, 2007||ATL 3, @TB 37|
|Nov 18, 2007||ATL 7, TB 31|
|Dec 10, 2006||ATL 17, @TB 6|
|Sep 17, 2006||ATL 14, TB 3|
|Dec 24, 2005||ATL 24, @TB 27|
|Nov 20, 2005||ATL 27, TB 30|
|Dec 5, 2004||ATL 0, @TB 27|
|Nov 14, 2004||ATL 24, TB 14|
|Dec 20, 2003||ATL 30, @TB 28|
|Sep 21, 2003||ATL 10, TB 31|
|Dec 8, 2002||ATL 10, @TB 34|
|Oct 6, 2002||ATL 6, TB 20|
ESPN Stats & Information