The Falcons and Buccaneers renew what has been a rolling grudge match of sorts through each team’s respective history. There have been successful periods of sustained success head-to-head on both sides, and longer periods of back-and-forth results, with the outcome being an overall razor thin margin between the two sides in 57 matchups.
The Buccaneers are in the midst of a four game winning streak in the series, which has been one of the unfortunate bits of fallout from Tom Brady signing with the team in 2020. That has resulted in the Bucs once again overtaking the head to head series lead, which had for the most part swung back and forth until the Falcons won six games in seven meetings between 2016-2019. Tampa is currently ahead 29-28.
That run of success which temporarily swung the pendulum in Atlanta’s favor was the Birds’ second best run against the Bucs, with their most successful period being between 2008-2012, when they won seven out of eight with Mike Smith at the helm.
The arrival of Matt Ryan was the biggest catalyst in Atlanta having this head-to-head record as close as it is today. Between 1997-2007, the Falcons went 4-11 against Tampa Bay, and were routinely handled by their new division rivals as of re-alignment in 2002. Even with the four consecutive losses to end his Falcons career, Ryan was still 15-12 against the Bucs in his career. I’m not counting the game in 2009 where he went down in the first quarter and Chris Redman won it.
Atlanta’s 16-8 run between 2008-2019 stopped the bleeding in their series against Tampa, and took full advantage of the Bucs essentially entering the wilderness after the 2007 season. They didn’t make it out until Brady’s arrival.
The Falcons and Bucs met in Week 13 last season, with the Birds finally in late season playoff contention and the Bucs looking every bit as imposing as they had the year before when they won the Super Bowl.
Following each team trading rushing touchdowns to cap off a 75-yard drives on their first possessions of the game, the Buccaneers expectedly starting taking control with a couple of Tom Brady touchdowns to his tight ends. The Falcons couldn’t muster anything more than a close range Younghoe Koo field goal after stalling out following a first and goal opportunity.
The game seemed to take a drastic momentum shift when Marlon Davidson made the play of his Falcons career, reading a Brady screen pass to Leonard Fournette and stepping in front of it for a one handed interception which was returned for a touchdown, just before the half.
After going into the break down 20-17, the Falcons completely faltered on offense, getting shut out in the second half as Tampa easily ushered themselves to a 30-17 victory.
The Falcons went 2-3 the rest of the way and missed out of the playoffs with a 7-10 record, while the Bucs won the NFC South for the first time since 2007 but watched their season end in disappointment in the form of a 30-27 defeat against the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams.