for this game

Buccaneers clinch division in rout of hapless Falcons

Dec 16, 2007 - 11:57 PM TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- The worst week in Atlanta Falcons franchise history got even worse Sunday, courtesy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Falcons allowed the first kickoff return for a touchdown in Tampa Bay history in a 37-3 loss to the Buccaneers, who clinched the NFC South Division title.

The loss came five days after coach Bobby Petrino resigned to go to Arkansas and six days after quarterback Michael Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison on dogfighting charges.

The Falcons (3-11) committed four turnovers, including cornerback Ronde Barber's 29-yard interception return for a touchdown one minute into the game, and allowed Tampa Bay (9-5) to recover an onside kick.

"It's great," Barber said. "Three titles in six years here. We came into this game with a goal, to do just that at home, to finally get this off our back and not worry about what New Orleans was doing today."

However, Barber's 12th career touchdown was quickly overshadowed by Michael Spurlock, who reeled off a 90-yard TD off a kickoff return.

Following Morten Andersen's 33-yard field goal, Spurlock took the ensuing kickoff at the 10. He broke up the middle, then bounced outside, outrunning Andersen and Lewis Sanders untouched down the Bucs sideline.

"It shut the door on them early," Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia said. "They've had a lot hanging over their head this week. With the return, the hill got even steeper for them to climb."

It was the 1,865th kickoff return in the team's 31-year history, and Spurlock was one of 141 different Bucs that returned kickoffs.

"We've been joking about it, we've heard it in the media, everybody has told me today could be the day," Spurlock said. "Derrick Brooks always tells me today is the day to make history and it happened.

"Everybody got their block, I hit and found the end zone."

Matt Bryant kicked field goals of 33, 28 and 34 yards for Tampa Bay, which had only two offensive touchdowns.

One of those - Earnest Graham's 1-yard run - was set up when Jovan Haye recovered Chris Redman's fumble at Atlanta's 6-yard line.

Four minutes into the second quarter, Tampa Bay already led, 17-3, without having scored an offensive touchdown.

"I just assumed (Spurlock) would step out of bounds," Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden said. "Or something would happen. I'm being serious. We've had opportunities to get close, it's almost a snakebitten play for us.

"To win a division title is hard to do and we had a lot of guys step up throughout this year to help us do that."

Graham carried 22 times for 79 yards and had five receptions for 40 yards.

"I'm going to put on my (NFC South) championship hat, I'm going to wear it out and I'm definitely proud of it," Graham said. "We'll probably celebrate that tonight."

Atlanta's lone bright spot was halfback Jerious Norwood, who had nine carries for 73 yards.

Redman struggled all day, completing only 4-of-15 for 34 yards with two interceptions and a lost fumble.

"We turned the ball over early in the ballgame on the interception and then they ran the kick back," Atlanta interim coach Emmitt Thomas said. "I thought the guys came out with a lot of passion, fought hard and then we had some misfortune."

Garcia was 15-for-25 for 109 yards with an interception and a 1-yard touchdown to tight end Anthony Becht.

"It was very frustrating," Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. "It's very frustrating obviously when you feel like you've prepared to the best of your ability and you still come out and get just ran all up and down all over the field."






  • 5
    roots
    metsfan31 Added 5 roots

    Falcons vs. BuccaneersJan 15 11:54 AM


  • NFL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 3 0 0 0 3
    TAMPA BAY 14 13 3 7 37 FINAL
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: TAM - TD, RONDE BARBER 29 YD INTERCEPTION
    RETURN (MATT BRYANT KICK), 1:00.
    TAMPA BAY 7-0
    ATL - FG, MORTEN ANDERSEN 33 YD, 8:24. Drive:
    7 plays, 59 yards in 3:24. Key
    plays: Norwood 29-yard ru

    Dec 16 3:56 PM


  • NFL
    TD TAM
    ANTHONY BECHT 1 YD PASS FROM JEFF GARCIA
    (MATT BRYANT KICK)
    ATLANTA 3
    TAMPA BAY 37 7:42 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Falcons vs. BuccaneersDec 16 3:38 PM


  • NFL
    END, 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 3 0 0 3
    TAMPA BAY 14 13 3 30 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: TAM - TD, RONDE BARBER 29 YD INTERCEPTION
    RETURN (MATT BRYANT KICK), 1:00.
    TAMPA BAY 7-0
    ATL - FG, MORTEN ANDERSEN 33 YD, 8:24. Drive:
    7 plays, 59 yards in 3:24. Key
    plays: Norwood 29-

    Dec 16 3:22 PM


  • NFL
    FG TAM
    MATT BRYANT 34 YD
    ATLANTA 3
    TAMPA BAY 30 4:08 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Falcons vs. BuccaneersDec 16 3:09 PM


  • NFL
    FG TAM
    MATT BRYANT 28 YD
    ATLANTA 3
    TAMPA BAY 27 0:00 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Dec 16 2:33 PM


  • NFL
    FG TAM
    MATT BRYANT 28 YD
    ATLANTA 3
    TAMPA BAY 27 0:00 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Falcons vs. BuccaneersDec 16 2:33 PM


  • NFL
    TD TAM
    EARNEST GRAHAM 1 YD RUN
    (MATT BRYANT KICK)
    ATLANTA 3
    TAMPA BAY 24 4:09 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Falcons vs. BuccaneersDec 16 2:15 PM


  • NFL
    FG TAM
    MATT BRYANT 33 YD
    ATLANTA 3
    TAMPA BAY 17 11:24 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Falcons vs. BuccaneersDec 16 1:52 PM


  • NFL
    END, 1ST QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 3 3
    TAMPA BAY 14 14 END, 1ST QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: TAM - TD, RONDE BARBER 29 YD INTERCEPTION
    RETURN (MATT BRYANT KICK), 1:00.
    TAMPA BAY 7-0
    ATL - FG, MORTEN ANDERSEN 33 YD, 8:24. Drive:
    7 plays, 59 yards in 3:24. Key
    plays: Norwood 29-

    Dec 16 1:44 PM


  • NFL
    TD TAM
    MICHEAL SPURLOCK 90 YD KICKOFF RETURN
    (MATT BRYANT KICK)
    ATLANTA 3
    TAMPA BAY 14 6:19 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Falcons vs. BuccaneersDec 16 1:32 PM


  • NFL
    FG ATL
    MORTEN ANDERSEN 33 YD
    ATLANTA 3
    TAMPA BAY 7 6:36 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Falcons vs. BuccaneersDec 16 1:27 PM


  • NFL
    TD TAM
    RONDE BARBER 29 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN
    (MATT BRYANT KICK)
    ATLANTA 0
    TAMPA BAY 7 14:00 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Falcons vs. BuccaneersDec 16 1:06 PM