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PHOTOS | Falcons best Bucs, cruise to NFC's No. 5 seed

6:56 AM, Jan 2, 2012   |    comments
(Josh D. Weiss-US PRESSWIRE)
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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)

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