ATLANTA -- The injury-ravaged Falcons held on for a 31-23 victory over Tampa Bay on Sunday to snap a three-game losing streak.
The Falcons, once considered Super Bowl contenders, improved to 2-4, while the Buccaneers dropped to 0-6 after the NFC South battle at the Georgia Dome.
With quarterback Matt Ryan passing to Harry Douglas and the defense gambling more with defensive coordinator Mike Nolan on the sideline, the Falcons built a 17-point lead, but needed an onside kick recovery by Thomas DeCoud in the final minutes to preserve the win.
Seven players who opened the season in the starting lineup against New Orleans, were not available against Tampa Bay.
On offense, the Falcons were without opening-day starters in wide receivers Julio Jones (foot surgery/out for season) and Roddy White (hamstring/ankle), left tackle Sam Baker (knee), running back Steven Jackson (hamstring) and fullback Bradie Ewing (shoulder). On defense, linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (foot) and defensive end/linebacker Kroy Bierrman (Achilles surgery) were missing from the opening day lineup.
It was the first game the White has missed since being drafted in 2005, ending his streak of 133 straight games played in.
The reserves and a few minor tweaks to the defense were needed to hold off the Bucs, who were led by rookie quarterback Mike Glennon making his third NFL start.
With the victory, the Falcons are now 5-1 following their bye week under Smith.
Ryan led the way by completed 19 of 25 passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns. Harry Douglas caught seven passes for 149 yards.
The Falcons jumped out to a 24-10 halftime lead.
Douglas had six catches for 140 yards and a touchdown at halftime. His previous highs were eight catches and 133 yards against the Saints on Nov. 13, 2011.
The defense, which Desmond Trufant taking over at nickel back for Robert McClain, set the tone early.
After the offense was held to a three-and-out, Nolan sent a blitz on Tampa Bay's third play of the game. Safety William Moore pummeled Glennon and forced a fumble.
Free safety Thomas DeCoud, who was coming for the left, scooped up the ball and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown. Bryant's kick made it 7-0.
Neither offense could get much going for the rest of the first quarter.
The Falcons started their third drive of the game from their 17-yard line.
After a third down incompletion, Tampa Bay's Trevor Scott was called for roughing the passer to keep the drive alive.
On first-and-10 from the 31, running back Jason Snelling was dropped for a yard loss before Ryan connected with Douglas for a 26-yard gain followed by a 20-yard gain on a pass to Tony Gonzalez.
Three plays later, Ryan connected with running back Jacquizz Rogers for a 19-yard touchdown to make it 14-0 On Tampa Bay's ensuing possession, Glennon tossed a 59-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson to make it 14-7.
Bryant added a 23-yard field goal and Ryan tossed a 37-yard touchdown Douglas to give the Falcons' a 24-7 lead. Tampa Bay's Rian Lindell made a 36-yard field goal as the first half buzzer sounded for the halftime margin.
The Bucs closed within seven after Glennon tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jackson to make it 24-17.
The Falcons and answered with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Rogers in the fourth quarter.
With the Falcons unable to run the ball and run some time off the clock, Tampa Bay put together two field goal drives to make it 31-23 with 1:55 left in the game.
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