The Falcons made it close – for a while. However, the Buccaneers pulled away late for a 48-25 victory on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. Here are the highlights:

Play of the game: You can’t blame it on one bad punt, but the shank certainly helped the Buccaneers blow open a close game. The Falcons pulled to within three points, 28-25, and forced the Bucs to punt. However, their ensuing drive stalled. Cameron Nizialek punted from the Falcons’ 13-yard line but it traveled just 33 yards and out of bounds at the 43. The Buccaneers covered the short field in three plays with Tom Brady finding Chris Godwin on a 12-yard score. The Bucs lead was up to 10 points in the fourth quarter before they added two defensive scores.

Offensive game ball: Oh sure, Tom Brady threw five touchdowns, two to Rob Gronkowski and two to Mike Evans. However, give a nod to the Falcons for putting Cordarrelle Patterson, the versatile running back wearing No. 84, in a position to make plays. Patterson scored twice, one via run and one via reception. He nearly had another receiving score that was called back when his toe touched out of bounds. His 10-yard run in the second quarter was the Falcons’ first touchdown of the season. He also caught a 7-yard score late in the third quarter that pulled the Falcons to within three points, 28-25.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) is sacked by Falcons defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (6) as he fumbles the ball during the first half  Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. (Dirk Shadd/Tampa Bay Times)

Credit: TNS

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Credit: TNS

Defensive game ball: Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards had not one, but two pick-six interceptions in the fourth quarter. The plays turned the game into a rout in favor of the home team. With the Bucs holding a 10-point lead, Edwards picked off Matt Ryan and returned it 31 yards for a score with eight minutes remaining. Edwards did it again four minutes later, picking off Ryan and returning it 15 yards for a score. Suddenly, the Bucs had a 48-25 lead.

Key stat: The Falcons rushed for just 55 yards on 20 carries, a 2.8 per yard average. The longest run was 10 yards by Patterson.

Biggest takeaway: You could say that the Falcons hung with the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers, trailing by only three points late in the game. However, the offensive struggles are real. The Falcons are a long way from a consistent rushing attack that controls the game.

History: Matt Ryan has more passing yards than any other player in their first 14 NFL seasons at 56,231 yards. He surpassed Drew Brees who had 56,033 yards.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

They said it: “That’s part of the game. That’s tough. You have to give them credit. They did a good job the entire night of continuing to pressure and getting their hands up.” – Matt Ryan on having eight pass attempts deflected.

Next up: The Falcons (0-2) travel to New York to face the Giants (0-2) at 1p.m. The game will be broadcast by FOX.