(Josh D. Weiss-US PRESSWIRE)
ATLANTA -- Michael Turner ran for 172 yards and two
touchdowns, and the Falcons scored the first 42 points against the Buccaneers
to capture the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs with a 45-24 victory.
PHOTO GALLERY: Falcons v. Buccaneers
The outcome, coupled with the Lions' loss to the Packers earlier Sunday, means
Atlanta avoided a first-round matchup against the New Orleans Saints and will
play the winner of the NFC East -- either the Giants or Cowboys, depending on
their winner-take-all showdown Sunday night.
The Falcons (10-6) were crushed by the Saints Monday night, 45-16, and took
out their frustrations in a one-sided regular season finale.
Atlanta's Matt Ryan played less than two quarters and completed 6-of-9 passes
for 106 yards and two touchdowns, both to Julio Jones.
Josh Freeman ended a disappointing season on a sour note, committing four
turnovers to increase his season total to 27. The third-year quarterback had
just nine turnovers in a 10-win campaign in 2010, but Tampa Bay (4-12) ended
this season on a 10-game losing streak, its longest skid since 1977.
(The Sports Network)