The Falcons won the toss to start the game and elected to receive, giving former Bucs head coach and current Atlanta offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter's offense the first chance. The Falcons went down the field in a hurry with a couple big catches by wide receivers Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage Jr. The latter would end up catching a pass from Ryan in the end zone, giving Atlanta an early 7-0 lead.
The Bucs' first drive of the game would prove fruitless even after a first down catch by tight end Cam Brate. Bradley Pinion would punt and pin the Falcons inside their own 10-yard line.
From there, the two teams traded punts until the first quarter was over, with the Bucs trailing 7-0.
View photos of Tampa Bay's Week 15 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Bucs had the ball at the start of the second quarter but a third-down sack of Brady by Deion Jones forced another punt with 12:57 left in the quarter.
The next drive for the Falcons needed a fourth down conversion to stay alive but they did it. They got into Bucs' territory yet again and would extend their lead to 14-0 on a 12-yard pass from Ryan to Ridley in the end zone. The Bucs got the ball back with 7:48 on the clock down two scores.
The next Tampa Bay drive was off to a decent start before it was stalled on yet another third-down sack of Tom Brady on a delayed linebacker blitz. It brought what was developing into a promising drive to a full stop as the Bucs surrendered the ball with 3:45 left in the half.
The Falcons again drove down the field but this time would be held to a field goal from inside the red zone. A 13-play, 75-yard drive helped extend Atlanta's lead to 17-0 with 15 seconds left before halftime.
The Bucs simply took a knee to go into halftime, knowing they were getting the ball back to start the third quarter.
This time, the Buccaneers clicked. Brady was wheeling and dealing on an 80-yard drive that culminated in a one-yard rushing touchdown by Leonard Fournette. It was set up by a big 32-yard catch by Evans, who was tackled just shy of the goal line. It cut the Falcons' lead to 17-7 with 11:28 left in the third quarter.
The Buccaneer defense took the field, this time without cornerback Carlton Davis who suffered a groin injury that knocked him out for the rest of the game. The Falcons would answer the Bucs' score with one of their own as they drove down the field yet again. Ryan hit Hurst in the end zone on a seven-yard pass that was nearly broken up by Jordan Whitehead but instead increased the Falcons' lead to 24-7 with 7:34 left in the third quarter.
This time the Bucs' defense forced a three-and-out and got the ball back the Tampa Bay offense in a hurry.
Tampa Bay got rolling on their next drive and Brady hit Miller over the middle who got stripped of the ball as he was going down. It turned out that his knee was down with possession of the ball but Atlanta threw the challenge flag, anyway. It ended up being a wasted timeout for the Falcons and the Bucs continued the drive. The next play, Evans drew a DPI and a facemask call to move further down the field. They got inside the red zone and then a fresh set of downs at the one-yard line. They'd get another fresh set as Rob Gronkowski drew a defensive pass interference call. The next play would then be another rushing touchdown for Fournette, giving him his second multi-touchdown game of the season for the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay trailed by just a field goal with five seconds left in the third quarter.
The defense yet again held up their end of the bargain as they forced a second-straight three-and-out to get the ball back to Brady and company.
The Bucs wouldn't be able to get it into the end zone on the next drive but they did get enough points to tie the game. Kicker Ryan Succop converted a 27-yard field goal to tie the game at 24 all with 11:15 to go.
The Falcons' next drive wouldn't be a three-and-out as Ryan helped his team down the field. They got well into Buccaneer territory when inside linebacker Devin White finally came up with the first sack of Ryan of the day. It was a loss of eight on third down but it wasn't quite enough to knock the Falcons out of kicker Younghoe Koo's range. He drilled a 52-yarder to put Atlanta back up, 27-24 with just over eight minutes to play.
The Bucs' next drive was a short one but a productive one. Brady hit wide receiver Antonio Brown for a 46-yard bomb that Brown took into the end zone. It gave the Bucs their first lead of the game as they pulled ahead 31-27 with 6:19 to play.
The next Falcons' drive would end on yet another third down sack of Ryan by White, who backed Atlanta up 11 yards. It forced the Falcons to punt out of their own end zone and gave the Bucs the ball back with less than five minutes to go.
The drive would end on a sack for the Bucs too as Grady Jarrett came in and dropped Brady for a loss of eight yards on second down. Running back LeSean McCoy would get 13 on third down but it wouldn't be enough and the Bucs would have to punt for the first time in the second half, giving the ball back to Atlanta with 2:52 to go.
The next series was chaotic for the Falcons as they were ultimately backed up into their own end zone. Defensive lineman Will Gholston got the credit for a third-down 'sack' of Ryan, where Ryan really just kind of ran into his own guy and fell down. It forced a fourth-and-16 situation that the Falcons would not convert. The Bucs took over on downs at the Atlanta 19-yard line.
The Falcons had no timeouts left and the Bucs just ran the ball. Faced with a third-and-two, Fournette ran the ball and looked to be stopped just short. A review of the spot and a measurement had the refs calling it a first down. The Bucs took a knee and got the win, 31-27, to improve to 9-5 on the season.