Sep 18, 2014 9:20 PM
Falcons take early 28-0 lead over Bucs
The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) Matt Ryan threw touchdown passes to Julio Jones and Harry Douglas on Atlanta's first two possessions and the Falcons led Tampa By 28-0 early in the second quarter Thursday night.
The Falcons made it 21-0 when safety Kemal Ishmael picked off Josh McCown's pass, intended for Vincent Jackson at the Buccaneers 23 and ran untouched to the end zone.
Atlanta had 12 first downs and 169 yards of total offense in the first quarter. The Bucs had zero first downs and 16 yards.
Defensive tackle Corey Peters hit the 35-year-old McCown as he let the ball go on the interception, giving Atlanta some rare quarterback pressure. The Falcons began the night as the only NFL team without a sack through the first two weeks.
Ryan was 10 of 11 for 110 yards. Steven Jackson ran seven times for 46 yards and Jones had four catches for 56 yards.
Following a lost fumble by Bucs running back Bobby Rainey late in the first quarter and a recovery by Atlanta safety Dwight Lowery, Devin Hester scored on a 20-yard run around the left end on the first play of the second quarter.
The Falcons scored on the game's opening possession, going 70 yards in six plays to take a 7-0 lead on Ryan's 3-yard pass over the middle to Douglas.
Both teams were missing key players. The Falcons, 1-1 after a loss at Cincinnati, were missing four-time Pro Bowl receiver Roddy White, sidelined by a hamstring injury.
Tampa Bay, coming off close home losses to Carolina and St. Louis, played without All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, linebacker Mason Foster and running back Doug Martin.
McCoy couldn't play because of a broken hand. A separated shoulder sidelined Foster and a knee injury sidelined Foster.
The Falcons caught a big break on their second drive. Tight end Levine Toilolo lost a fumble following a 13-yard catch to the Tampa Bay 23, but receiver Hester got the ball back, stripping it away from safety Mark Barron and recovering it at the 37.
Seven plays later, Jones caught an 8-yard TD pass from Ryan to make it 14-0.
The Bucs were hoping to avoid losing their first three games under new coach Lovie Smith.