Ryan, Falcons beat Bucs 43-28 to retain control in NFC South

Matt Ryan, the NFL's passing yardage leader, was almost flawless again Thursday night, throwing for 344 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions to put the NFC South leader in better position for first place.

The Falcons win was a statement not only for the team to show they are a legitimate playoff contender but for Matt Ryan as well. They Falcons took over the game in the second half, Matt Ryan played like a legitimate MVP making throws through tight windows and feeding Julio Jones the ball in the second half to separate themselves from the Bucs. "In the second half, I thought Julio (Jones) got us going and kind of sparked us", Ryan said. The Bucs opened the season with three home losses, including Sunday in overtime against the Oakland Raiders. Winston and Evans connected again for a 24-yard touchdown - that's an NFL-best eight for Evans, giving the Bucs a 14-13 lead. The Falcons have the number one offense in the National Football League in both scoring and total yards, and Ryan has thrown 23 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions with a QB rating of 119.0.

The Bucs got three touchdown passes from Jameis Winston, but the Bucs couldn't stop the Falcons, who didn't punt while scoring five touchdowns and three field goals.

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"I was really pleased with the players and their readiness for the game", coach Dan Quinn said Friday.

Both of Tampa Bay's young stars finished the game on the sidelines, with Evans being evaluated for a possible concussion and Winston limping off after being shaken up when he was tackled trying to score on a two-point conversion play with just under seven minutes remaining.

The win for the Falcons gives them control of their division as well as a chance to rest and get healthy knowing they are well in control of their own division for the time being.

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Mike Glennon finished up for the Bucs, taking his first regular season snaps since 2014. But he has given away the football 11 times (8 INT, 3 lost fumbles) and the Bucs are 2-5 in those contests.

LYNCH HONORED: Retired S John Lynch became the ninth member of the Bucs Ring of Honor during a halftime ceremony. Cornerback Desmond Trufant missed the second half with a shoulder injury. A nine-time Pro Bowl selection and a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame last winter, Lynch played for the Bucs 1993 to 2003 and the Denver Broncos from 2004 to 2007.

UP NEXT: The Falcons travel to Philadelphia, while the Bucs finish a three-game homestand against Chicago on November 13. He was inducted into the Broncos Ring of Honor earlier this month.

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Jason Heyward struck out but Javier Baez, who has been chasing bad pitches all series, reached on a bunt to load the bases. On the pitching front, Jon Lester was mostly nails while Aroldis Chapman came through with a yeoman-like eight-out save.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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