ATLANTA (AP) — The Falcons couldn’t follow through with their plan to gain momentum for the playoffs as Josh Freeman threw a touchdown pass to Mike Williams, Doug Martin ran for 141 yards and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat Atlanta 22-17 on Sunday.
The Falcons (13-3) had little to play for as they already have home-field advantage through the NFC playoffs. Coach Mike Smith said he wanted to “finish the regular season the right way,” and he stayed with his starters through the game.
The danger to Smith’s strategy was losing a top starter to an injury. Defensive end John Abraham, Atlanta’s best pass rusher, left with an apparent left ankle injury in the fourth quarter. Abraham couldn’t put his weight on the ankle as he was helped off the field.
Starting cornerback Dunta Robinson suffered a head injury in the first quarter and did not return.