Buccaneers-Falcons: What we learned

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

TAMPA, Fla. -- Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy admitted he had no idea who Bobby Rainey was until the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie joined the team about a month ago.
But Rainey, 26, claimed off waivers from the Browns Oct. 21, quickly made McCoy a believer his first few weeks as a scout team running back.
"He shook me so bad one time in practice, I was like, 'If they ever put him in the game, he's going to kill it,'" McCoy said.
Rainey did just that Sunday, rushing for a career-high 163 yards and scoring three touchdowns to lead the Bucs to a 41-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons at Raymond James Stadium.
It was Tampa Bay's second straight victory after starting the season 0-8.
Rainey, who went undrafted out of Western Kentucky in 2012, has quickly gone from fourth-string to the forefront, thanks to season-ending injuries suffered by Doug Martin and Mike James.
Rainey scored the go-ahead touchdown in last Monday's 22-19 win over the Dolphins, and had two more rushing touchdowns Sunday -- including a season-long run for the Bucs of 43 yards -- and caught a touchdown pass. He didn't start, but ended with 30 carries.
"I anticipated me going in and doing my job," Rainey said.
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.
"Obviously that's not how we wanted to play," said Falcons veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez. "It's embarrassing, honestly, to tell you the truth, the way we came out and performed, all of us. I'm getting tired of coming in with this excuse, but we've got to play better. We're dropping balls, not executing, picking up blitzes. It's all of us."
Atlanta was down 41-13 before scoring a couple fourth-quarter touchdowns.
"Any time you look up and you're down by 30 points, I haven't had my butt kicked like that since Sam Bradford and Oklahoma back in 2008," Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said. "That was tough."

What the Buccaneers said
"We challenged him. He played two All-Pro games the last two games. We said, 'Can you do it? Can you do it week in and week out?' And he stood up and did it, without a doubt." -- Coach Greg Schiano, on defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who had three sacks Sunday, giving him four in past two weeks and six for the season.

What the Falcons said
"We obviously didn't play good enough football to win in any phase of the game today. The way that we played was unacceptable. The way that we coached is unacceptable." -- Coach Mike Smith, after Atlanta's fourth consecutive defeat.

What we learned about the Buccaneers
1. Running back Bobby Rainey is set in his new job. Not many Bucs knew much about the 26-year-old rookie until he was claimed off waivers from the Browns on Oct. 21. However, Rainey impressed on the scout team and quickly went from fourth string to the forefront due to season-ending injuries to Doug Martin and Mike James. Rainey, who scored the go-ahead touchdown last Monday in the Buccaneers' win over the Dolphins, racked up a career-high 163 yards and scored three touchdowns Sunday. Rainey, who went undrafted in 2002 out of Western Kentucky, didn't start, but he carried the ball 30 times. He expect him to get the nod next Sunday against the Lions in Detroit. He would be the fourth different starting running back for the Bucs this season. While Rainey is just 5-foot-8, he makes up for it in speed and elusiveness, reminiscent of a former Bucs and Falcons back he looked up to, Warrick Dunn.
2. The Bucs are coming together. After an 0-8 start and a season filled with controversy, Tampa Bay might have seen the season fall apart. Instead, the Bucs carried momentum from a near upset in Seattle to wins in back-to-back games. The players say they never quit, just stayed the course, knowing they were far too talented to be a winless team. Rookie quarterback Mike Glennon impressed since taking over for Josh Freeman, including his best day Sunday, going 20-for-23 for 231 yards and two touchdowns with a 137.5 passer rating. The remaining six games will be telling on if the Bucs feel Glennon is their quarterback of the future.

What we learned about the Falcons
1. Atlanta can't stop the run. The Falcons entered the game one of the worst in the league in rushing defense, and they didn't help their cause Sunday, allowing 186 yards on the ground. That included 163 yards by rookie running back Bobby Rainey, who was the Bucs' fourth string back a few weeks ago. "They got it going on us," linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said. "They got good push, and (Rainey) is pretty good. It was a rough day from that aspect."
2. Quarterback Matt Ryan is struggling. Ryan is one of the top quarterbacks in the NFC, but he is in the midst of a rough patch, throwing nine interceptions and just five touchdowns the past four weeks. Ryan threw two more picks Sunday against the Bucs while getting sacked three times. Part of it is injuries to the receiving corps: Roddy White just came back last week after missing three games, and Julio Jones is out for the year. In addition, with the Falcons struggling to get a consistent running game going, there is a lot more pressure on Ryan to carry the offense.

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