Fal­cons fall to Win­ston, Bucs in open­ing out­ing

The Standard Journal - - SPORTS - By PAUL NEW­BERRY Atlanta Fal­cons line­backer De’Von­dre Camp­bell, right, is called for pass in­ter­fer­ence against Tampa Bay Buc­ca­neers tight end Austin Se­fe­rian-Jenk­ins

ATLANTA ( AP) — Jameis Win­ston bounced back from an early in­ter­cep­tion to throw four touch­down passes, and Tampa Bay claimed a win­ning record for the first since 2012 by open­ing the sea­son with a 31-24 vic­tory over the Atlanta Fal­cons in the open­ing game of the NFL sea­son over the week­end.

The Fal­cons grabbed a 10-3 lead late in the first quar­ter af­ter Win­ston’s pass for Vin­cent Jack­son was picked off by Desmond Tr­u­fant, who re­turned it 13 yards to the Tampa Bay 9. There was a mix-up be­tween the quar­ter­back and re­ceiver, as Jack­son broke out­side while Win­ston’s threw to the in­side.

But Win­ston shook off that mis­cue, lead­ing the Buc­ca­neers on a nine­play, 75-drive that cul­mi­nated with a 4-yard TD pass to My­ers.

Af­ter Matt Bryant’s sec­ond field goal pushed the Fal­cons ahead 13-10, Win­ston went to work again with less than 2 min­utes to go in the first half.

He con­verted on thir­dand-10 with an 11-yard pass to Jack­son. Then came a short throw to Sims, who did the rest. He faked out two de­fend­ers — cut­ting right while they both tum­bled the turf, tak­ing each other out — and broke two more tack­les on the way to a 23-yard touch­down that put Tampa Bay ahead for good with 14 sec­onds left in the half.

The Buc­ca­neers scored on their first two pos­ses­sions of the sec­ond half, push­ing the lead to 31-13. Win­ston went to Se­far­i­onJenk­ins on a 30-yard touch­down, fol­lowed by a per­fectly thrown 45-yard scor­ing pass to Evans over two de­fend­ers.

To their credit, the Fal­cons didn’t quit in their fi­nal sea­son opener at the Ge­or­gia Dome be­fore mov­ing next door to $1.4 bil­lion Mercedes-

Benz Sta­dium.

Matt Ryan , look­ing to bounce back from a dis­ap­point­ing 2015 sea­son in which the Fal­cons missed the play­offs for the third year in a row, hooked up with Julio Jones on a 25-yard touch­down. A two­point con­ver­sion closed the gap to 31-21.

An­other long drive re­sulted in Bryant’s third field goal, and the Fal­cons got the ball back one more time with 1:52 re­main­ing and no time­outs. They man­aged only first down be­fore the Bucs closed it out.

Long drought

It’s the first win­ning record for the Bucs since they started the 2012 sea­son with a 6-4 mark.

They lost five of their last six that year, and haven’t been above .500 un­til now.

Tampa Bay’s last win­ning sea­son was 2010.

In­jury re­port

Tampa Bay backup line­backer Jac­quies Smith was carted to the locker room with a right knee in­jury and didn’t re­turn. The third-year player was in­jured while cover­ing a punt in the first quar­ter.

Fal­cons de­fen­sive end Brooks Reed sus­tained a shoul­der in­jury in the first half, but he was able to re­turn.

Undis­ci­plined fal­cons

Some big penal­ties cost the home team in the third quar­ter. Of­fen­sive guard Chris Ch­ester was called for un­nec­es­sary rough­ness, knock­ing the Fal­cons out of field-goal range.

On Tampa Bay’s en­su­ing pos­ses­sion, cor­ner­back Robert Al­ford was also flagged for a per­sonal foul af­ter the Fal­cons had forced an in­com­plete pass on third down. The Bucs went on to score a touch­down.

Curtis Comp­ton/AJC via AP

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