The Falcons are back in division play this weekend, facing off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the first of two annual matchups. A victory for the Birds this weekend will create a modest active winning streak of two games and, more importantly, will tie the series history at 30-30.
This is a series the Falcons had dominated in the Matt Ryan era, winning seven out of eight matchups in Ryan’s early days and then a separate six out of seven in his later days, while losing only seven matchups between 2008 and 2018. That success helped swing the overall series in Atlanta’s favor.
Tom Brady’s three years in Tampa, starting in 2020, was the stuff of nightmares for the Falcons. In six matchups against the Birds, Brady led the Bucs to wins in the first five in a row, to help the Florida franchise re-take the lead (the Falcons were up 28-25 before 2020).
That still, however, does not represent the longest winning streak against Atlanta that the Bucs had — that came when they won six in a row between 1997-2003.
The Falcons hosted the Buccaneers in the 2022 regular season finale and they had nothing to play for but pride (a common occurrence over the past five seasons). Atlanta had been in a division race with Tampa for much of the season, but four straight defeats before Week 17 mathematically eliminated them from contention.
Knowing that Tom Brady was going to retire, and with a disastrous 0-10 record against him in his career, the Falcons had one final opportunity to figure out the Brady rubik’s cube that had perplexed them for so many years.
With the division clinched and nothing to play for, the future Hall of Fame quarterback was pulled along with a few other starters in the second quarter. Blaine Gabbert came in relief and tossed a touchdown to former Falcon Russell Gage to take a 17-10 lead into halftime.
The Falcons had a second half explosion, however, scoring on all four of their possessions (two field goals, two touchdowns) other than the final one, which saw the clock expire . The day belonged to Tyler Allgier, whose 135 rushing yards helped him break William Andrews’ franchise rookie rushing record which stood since 1979.
With the win, the Falcons were given credit with defeating Tom Brady, who started the game. They also ensured that the 2022 NFC South champion would finish with a record below .500.