TAMPA - Rookie running back Bobby Rainey rushed for a career-high 161 yards and scored three touchdowns, leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 41-28 victory over the Atlanta Falcons Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
Rainey, a 26-year-old getting the start due to injuries to the Buccaneers' top two backs, sparked an offensive explosion for Tampa Bay (2-8), which racked up a season-high in points to win their second straight game.
Rainey had two rushing touchdowns -- including a season long run for the Buccaneers of 43 yards -- and caught a touchdown pass.
Rainey went undrafted out of Western Kentucky in 2012, but emerged as an unlikely catalyst. He was claimed off waivers from the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 21 and forced to step in after Doug Martin and Mike James each suffered season-ending injuries. Rainey didn't start, but had touchdown runs of 43 yards and 3 yards among his 29 carries, as well as a 3-yard touchdown reception.
For the reeling Falcons (2-8), it was their fourth straight loss and seventh in their last eight games. The only win came Oct. 20 against the Bucs. Turnovers continued to plague Atlanta, with quarterback Matt Ryan throwing two interceptions and Roddy White fumbling.
The Falcons looked poised to score on their opening drive, picking up 52 yards on their first four plays. But on first down from the Buccaneers 35, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy recorded sacks on consecutive plays, taking the Falcons out of field-goal range.
The Bucs took advantage on their following possession, going 73 yards on 15 plays, sparked by 44 yards rushing from Rainey. That set up a 30-yard field goal by Rian Lindell to give Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead.
The Bucs regained the lead on Rainey's 43-yard scamper. Tampa Bay then tried some trickery, recovering a surprise onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, before failing on a fake field goal minutes later.
But on the next play, Buccaneers linebacker Mason Foster intercepted a pass by Ryan, who was hit as he threw by linebacker Dekoda Watson. Foster returned it 37 yards for a touchdown, putting Tampa Bay up 17-3. The Falcons would turn it over again on their next drive, with White fumbling near midfield, recovered by safety Mark Barron. It took the Bucs five plays to cash in, with Rainey finishing it off with a 3-yard scoring run. Matt Bryant hit a 49-yard-field goal in the final minute of the half to bring the Falcons within 24-6.
The Bucs continued to add on in the second half.
They got receiver Vincent Jackson more involved, with quarterback Mike Glennon -- who went 20-for-23 for 231 yards and two touchdowns -- finding him for a 53-yard reception down the right sideline. That set up a 4-yard touchdown catch by Rainey, just over five minutes into the third, giving the Bucs a 31-6 lead.
Jackson, limited by double teams to five combined catches the previous two weeks, had 10 for 165 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown catch late in the third to make it 38-6. The Falcons added touchdowns on an 80-yard catch by receiver Harry Douglas, a 50-yard run by Antone Smith and a 6-yard catch by White.
NOTES: Buccaneers linebacker Mason Foster suffered a concussion in the first half and did not return. ... Buccaneers defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, who dealt with concussion-like symptoms last week, was inactive Sunday against the Bucs. ... Falcons linebacker Sean Witherspoon was activated from injured reserve. ... The Bucs had three plays of 40 yards or more Sunday. They had one in the first nine games.