TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Matt Ryan’s first career reception went for a touchdown and the Atlanta quarterback also threw for 378 yards and two TDs to help the Falcons conclude a disappointing season with a 34-32 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
Matt Bryant’s second field goal, a 37-yarder as time expired, provided the winning points after Jameis Winston rallied the Bucs (5-11) from a 31-20 deficit to a one-point lead with just over five minutes to go.
The Falcons (7-9) escaped a 17-0 hole with Ryan leading scoring drives on five consecutive possessions from late in the second quarter until early in the fourth. He began the comeback with a 19-yard scoring throw to Julio Jones and also tossed a 7-yarder to Calvin Ridley.
In between, Ryan caught a 5-yard TD pass from receiver Mohamed Sanu, Bryant kicked a 49-yard field goal and Tevin Coleman scored on a 23-yard run.
Ryan finished 31 of 44 with one interception, a fourth-quarter pick that led to Winston’s second TD pass of the day — to Chris Godwin for Tampa Bay’s brief 32-31 lead. Mike Evans also caught of a pair of TD passes from Winston, who was 22 of 35 for 345 yards and four TDs with one interception.
Jones finished with nine receptions for 138 yards. Sanu had seven catches for 90 yards, in addition to throwing his fourth career touchdown pass.
Godwin had six catches for 114 yards and Evans had six receptions for 106 yards for the Bucs, who finished last in the NFC South for the seventh time in eight years.
Tampa Bay dropped to 19-29 in three seasons under coach Dirk Koetter, whose job could be at stake after consecutive 5-11 finishes.
The Bucs finished with a four-game losing streak, and also must decide if Winston is their quarterback of the future.
Winston missed the first three games of the season while serving a three-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal contact policy and was benched twice before regaining his starting job down the stretch.
The No. 1 overall pick from the 2015 draft is due to earn $20.92 million next season in the final year of the contract he signed as a rookie; however, the salary is only guaranteed in the event of injury.
The Falcons concluded a season marred by injuries on a three-game winning streak.
Buccaneers: WR DeSean Jackson (Achilles) was inactive for the fourth time in five weeks. DE Carl Nassib (shoulder) also did not dress. ... CB Carlton Davis left in the third quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. ... S Isaiah Johnson left with a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter.
Falcons: Just two years removed from appearing in the Super Bowl, they will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2015 when they finished 8-8 in their first season under coach Dan Quinn.
Buccaneers: Must decide if Koetter’s three-year record, which includes double-digit losses the past two seasons, is good enough to retain his job. General manager Jason Licht’s future could be in jeopardy, too.