The end.

The Falcons put the finishing touches on their fifth consecutive losing season and second under the new regime which has had to rebuild the roster while living in NFL salary-cap hell.

It has been one bizarre season for the Falcons that involved a deer, a helmet removal, a stop, drop and roll pass, and the quarterback leaving the building.

The Falcons played hard as they went 5-8 in one-score games during the season but pulled away from the Bucs and their backups for a 30-17 victory Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“I thought we overcame a lot,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said.

The Falcons finished 7-10, and the Bucs, who won the NFC South, dropped to 8-9 and will go to the playoffs with a losing record. The Falcons also finished 7-10 in Smith’s first season, but he noted that this 7-10 felt different.

“You can feel a little bit more of a foundation and identity,” Smith said.

Running back Tyler Allgeier set a rookie rushing record with 1,035 yards for the season. The old mark of 1,023 was set by William Andrews in 1979. Allgeier, a fifth-round pick from BYU, rushed 24 times for 135 yards.

“I just wanted the (win) for real, then all the stats will come into place,” Allgeier said.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Allgeier took over the rushing load down the stretch after Cordarrelle Patterson was injured.

“I think he really took off,” Smith said.

Wide receiver Drake London had six catches for 120 yards and finished with 72 receptions this season, a rookie record. He broke the mark (68) set by Kyle Pitts last season.

“Just being comfortable on the field and not worrying about anything else,” London said. “Just playing football.”

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

With Allgeier and London, the Falcons have two weapons to eventually pair with Pitts as part of the offense’s foundation.

“(London and Allgeier) got better as the season went along,” Smith said.

The season also included a win over Cleveland, which was without defensive star Myles Garrett after he was in an accident trying to dodge a deer in suburban Cleveland.

It also included a win over Carolina after wide receiver D.J. Moore removed his helmet and was penalized. The kicker missed the longer PAT, and the Falcons won in overtime.

There was the tipped Marcus Mariota pass against the Commanders as the Falcons were driving for the lead.

Then Mariota gave us the stop, drop and roll pass at Carolina. He left the team after he was demoted 13 games into the season.

It all started with a blown opportunity against New Orleans. In the middle, the Falcons got boat-raced out of Cincinnati.

There was that 28-14 victory over the 49ers.

In the finale, before Tom Brady put on his baseball cap late in the second quarter, he completed 13 of 17 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown. He finished with a passer rating of 106 and helped the Bucs build a 17-10 halftime lead.

The Bucs opened the game with a 70-yard touchdown drive, which Brady capped with an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph, who slipped behind rookie linebacker Troy Andersen.

After an exchange of punts, quarterback Desmond Ridder guided the Falcons on a nine-play, 91-yard touchdown drive. He tossed a 2-yard pass to MyCole Pruitt for his first NFL TD pass.

“It was just pure emotion,” Ridder said. “Me and Pruitt were just screaming in each other’s face, and I was looking for the ball. I saw CP (Patterson) run over and go grab it for me. He knew I was waiting on that, too.”

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

The drive was one of the bright spots for Ridder, who completed 19 of 30 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns. It was the team’s second-longest drive of the season.

The Falcons had a 97-yard touchdown drive against the Panthers on Nov. 10. The Falcons also had an 89-yard touchdown drive at Seattle on Sept. 25.

Falcons safety Richie Grant forced a fumble and recovered it. The Falcons couldn’t move the ball and settled for a 49-yard field goal by Younghoe Koo to take a 10-7 lead.

The Bucs answered with a 41-yard field goal from Ryan Succop to make it 10-10.

After an exchange of punts, the ball slipped out of Ridder’s hand when he was cocking back to throw. Tampa Bay’s Devin White recovered the ball and returned it 9 yards to Atlanta’s 22.

Blaine Gabbert replaced Brady at quarterback for the Bucs and tossed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Russell Gage. The extra point put the Bucs up, 17-10.

Brady needed nine completions to break his record for most completions in a season. He needed 12 attempts to break Matthew Stafford’s season mark for pass attempts.

With the records set and the score 10-10, Brady gave way to the Gabbert and Kyle Trask show. Falcons backup quarterback Logan Woodside even got some action in the fourth quarter.

The Falcons opened the second half with a promising drive that stalled at the Bucs’ 6-yard line. Koo added a 24-yard field goal to make it 17-13.

After the defense forced a punt, Ridder put together another nice touchdown drive. He tossed a 3-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Olamide Zaccheaus to cap a 14-play, 80-yard drive that took 7:58 off the clock.

The extra point put the Falcons up 20-17 with 51 seconds left in the third quarter.

On fourth-and-3 on Tampa Bay’s 43, Ridder kept the drive alive with a wild scramble before he found tight end Anthony Firkser for an 11-yard gain.

Patterson added a 2-yard touchdown run with 8:07 left, and Koo added a 51-yard field goal.

The Falcons received a scare in the first half, when London left with a foot issue. He returned in the third quarter.

He missed part of his last season at USC with a fractured right ankle.

“I just made a cut and tweaked my ankle a little bit; there isn’t anything wrong with it,” London said. “We are not playing next week, so I’ve got time to rest and get it right.”

Falcons left guard Matt Hennessy left the game with a knee injury and did not return. Bucs receiver Mike Evans left the game with an illness and did not return.

Now the Falcons can turn the page to what should be a busy offseason as they’ll have nearly $70 million in salary-cap space to help finish their rebuilding efforts.

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Atlanta Falcons 2022 results

Sept. 11 Saints 27, Falcons 26

Sept. 18 Rams 31, Falcons 27

Sept. 25 Falcons 27, Seahawks 23

Oct. 2 Falcons 23, Browns 20

Oct. 9 Buccaneers 21, Falcons 15

Oct. 16 Falcons 28, 49ers 14

Oct. 23 Bengals 35, Falcons 17

Oct. 30 Falcons 37, Panthers 34 OT

Nov. 6 Chargers 20, Falcons 17

Nov. 10 Panthers 25, Falcons 15

Nov. 20 Falcons 27, Bears 24

Nov. 27 Commanders 19, Falcons 13

Dec. 4 Steelers 19, Falcons 16

BYE WEEK

Dec. 18 Saints 21, Falcons 18

Dec. 24 Ravens 17, Falcons 9

Jan. 1 Falcons 20, Cardinals 19

Jan. 8 Falcons 30, Buccaneers 17

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