NFL Football

Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Tampa Bay 0 0 21 10 31
Atlanta 7 10 7 3 27
10:00 AM PT11:00 AM MT12:00 PM CT1:00 PM ET18:00 GMT2:00 11:00 AM MST1:00 PM EST12:00 PM CT22:00 UAE13:00 ET16:00 , December 20, 2020
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia  Attendance: 10,703

Buccaneers-Falcons Preview

According to STATS
According to STATS

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons

  1. The Buccaneers beat the Vikings last week, 26-14, moving to 8-5 on the year and guaranteeing their second season with at least a .500 record in the last 10 years (9-7 in 2016). It was the first time that Tampa Bay allowed fewer than 20 points in a game since a 38-10 victory over Green Bay in Week 6.
  2. Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes in the win, giving him 30 for the year, his most since 2017 (32). This is his eighth season with 30+ TD passes, the fourth most all-time behind Drew Brees (10), Brett Favre (9) and Peyton Manning (9).
  3. The Falcons matched their loss total from each of the last two seasons after their last-second 20-17 loss to the Chargers last week. Atlanta is 1-6 in games decided by seven points or fewer this year -- its six such losses are tied with the Panthers and Chargers for the most by any team this season.
  4. Matt Ryan has a 66.0 passer rating over his last four games, the worst mark by any quarterback since Week 11 (minimum 50 pass attempts) and the fourth-worst mark of any four-game span in his career.
  5. Calvin Ridley had his sixth game with 100+ receiving yards last week, tied for the most in the NFL this year with Davante Adams, DeAndre Hopkins and Travis Kelce. Ridley is the third Falcon ever to have six 100-yard games in a single season, joining Julio Jones (five seasons) and Roddy White (two seasons).
  6. These teams split their two meetings last year after Atlanta won the previous four matchups. Tampa is 3-2 in its last five visits to Atlanta, winning 35-22 there last year. Including Super Bowl LI (51), Tom Brady is 6-0 in his career against the Falcons, and he won Super Bowl LII (53) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Team Comparison

Tampa Bay
28.5 Points 25.2
268.9 Pass Yds 284.5
97.2 Rush Yds 98.3
21 Takeaways 18
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

ATLANTA (AP) At 43, Tom Brady is on the verge of proving he was the right choice to help Tampa Bay end the NFL's second-longest playoff drought.

At 35, Matt Ryan is determined to answer new doubts that he's still capable of bringing Atlanta back to the postseason.

The Buccaneers (8-5) could move closer to their first playoff appearance since 2007 when they visit Atlanta (4-9) on Sunday.

The Buccaneers currently hold the NFC's No. 6 playoff spot following last week's 26-14 win over Minnesota. Tampa Bay plays at Detroit next week before facing the Falcons again at home to close the regular season.

Brady is making no assumptions about the Bucs' path to the playoffs.

"Wherever that takes us, it takes us. It will be up to us to earn it," Brady said. "No one is going to give you anything in the NFL. It's too competitive, it's too tough. Every week is a challenge."

After 12 consecutive seasons of missing the postseason, Tampa Bay signed Brady after he led New England to nine Super Bowls, including six championships.

Brady holds the NFL record for quarterbacks with 30 playoff wins. One of his six Super Bowl championships came against Ryan and the Falcons. The Patriots rallied from a 28-3 deficit to win 34-28 in overtime in Super Bowl 51 following the 2016 season.

Brady is 6-0 against Atlanta. Ryan needs no reminders of the Super Bowl collapse, and he's not interested in revisiting bad memories by watching a replay of the game.

"I don't pop that one in all that often," Ryan said this week as he prepared for the visit from Brady's Bucs. "Different memory for him than it is for me."

Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris, who was Atlanta's wide receivers coach in 2016, said he has no interest in revisiting the Super Bowl loss. He said he doesn't blame Brady if the quarterback celebrates his postseason success.

"No, that game's in the past." Morris said. "I hate Tom enough. I don't need more motivation. ... He's the best player in the game I've seen and when you're the best and you're able to prove it every single week, you have the right to put up your old Super Bowls and your old rings. ... I do hate him for it. I just hate him for it."

Ryan threw a season-high three interceptions in last week's 20-17 loss at the Los Angeles Chargers. Including a costly poor pass late in the loss to the Chargers, Ryan has thrown eight interceptions in the last six games after giving up only three in the first seven games of the season.


Even while playing in the NFC South with Brady and 41-year-old Drew Brees of New Orleans, Ryan faced questions this week about his age and signs of a possible decline.

"My body feels great," Brady said. "I feel like I'm fresh and I'm in a good spot. I haven't played as well as I'd like, and that happens sometimes."


Tampa Bay linebackers Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul form one of the top sacks duos in the NFL. They've combined for five over the past two games and have 45 1/2 since the start of 2019 -second highest for a tandem during that stretch behind Pittsburgh's T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree, who have 46.

Cornerback Carlton Davis, who leads the Bucs with four interceptions, said Barrett and Pierre-Paul make him a better player.

"Having those guys on our edge definitely gives you confidence on the back end when you're covering because you know the quarterback doesn't have long before he has to get the ball out," Davis said. "I love playing with those guys."


Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians would like to see Morris land another full-time job. Morris was 17-31 as Tampa Bay's coach from 2009-11 and is 4-4 since replacing the fired Dan Quinn this season.

"I would hope so," Arians said. "I think as you grow as a coach, you learn. I think for him, having had the development of coaching offense and defense while he's in Atlanta just makes him even more of a better candidate. Obviously, he has a great rapport with players and players love playing for him. If you're looking for a head coach, what else are you looking for?"


The only way Tampa Bay can clinch a playoff berth on Sunday is by beating Atlanta while Minnesota and Chicago play to a tie. There has been only one tie all season, Cincinnati vs. Philadelphia.


Calvin Ridley has emerged as Atlanta's leading receiver as Julio Jones has missed four games with a hamstring injury. Jones' status this week is uncertain.

Ridley had eight catches for 124 yards with a touchdown against Los Angeles last week. It was his sixth game with at least 100 yards this season, tied for the NFL lead. The third-year player has career-best totals of 67 catches for 1,029 yards.


AP Sports Writer Fred Goodall contributed to this report.


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Updated December 17, 2020

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