The Falcons won the toss and deferred, kicking off to Buccaneers' running back Jacquizz Rodgers who took the touchback.
The Buccaneers went right down the field on a very balanced drive that saw running back Peyton Barber break loose for a 28-yard gain. It ended with a 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jameis Winston to tight end Cameron Brate for his third touchdown reception in three games. Kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed the point after but the Bucs took an early 6-0 lead with 11:36 left in the first quarter.
The Falcons answered right away. Quarterback Matt Ryan got three different receivers involved and the drive was capped by a 35-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu as he reached across the goal line to put Atlanta up 7-6 halfway through the first quarter.
The Bucs came up empty on their next drive but not before wide receiver Mike Evans broke the franchise's all-time receiving yards record with a 19-yard catch from Winston. The previous holder was Mark Carrier with 5,018 yards.
After bringing up third-and-11 inside the red zone, the Bucs' Gerald McCoy was called for a hands to the face penalty that gave the Falcons a fresh set of downs. The next play running back Ito Smith broke loose and into the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown, putting the Falcons up 14-6 in the second quarter.
Tampa Bay was forced to punt on their second straight possession. The Falcons got down the field and scored on a nine-yard pass to tight end Austin Hooper, increasing Atlanta's lead to 21-6 with 7:30 left in the half.
The next Bucs possession saw them get into Falcons territory before quarterback Jameis Winston was picked off inside the Atlanta five-yard line. The Falcons would come up empty as Atlanta went three-and-out to get the ball back to the Bucs' offense with good field position at nearly midfield.
After a drive fueled by Winston's legs, the Bucs answered on a 10-yard touchdown to tight end O.J. Howard to tighten the gap 21-13 before the half ran out. The Falcons would tack on a field goal before halftime to make the score 24-13.
The Bucs brought the blitz on the first series of the second half. A big third-down tackle for loss by linebacker Kwon Alexander forced the Falcons to punt. The Bucs would get in a goal-to-go situation on the ensuing possession before Winston was picked off on a deflection of the ball off a receiver's helmet, stopping the Bucs. The Falcons wouldn't capitalize behind two false start penalties and a big third-down sack by defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, his fifth of the season and fourth straight game with a sack.
The Bucs would got inside the red zone but would ultimately end up kicking the field goal to pull the game within one score. Chandler Catanzaro was good from 35 yards out to make the score 24-16 almost halfway through the third quarter.
The Falcons went three-and-out on their next series. Among a mix of running plays and passes, the Bucs marched right down the field. Winston hit wide receiver Chris Godwin on a play-action pass to pull the Bucs within two. They went for the two-point conversion and failed so the score remained 24-22 with just over 11 minutes left in the game.
Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy exited the game on the next series as the Falcons took a trip down the field. They were able to get all the way into the end zone on a short six-yard touchdown pass to running back Tevin Coleman to bump their lead back into two-score territory. The Bucs got the ball back with just over six minutes to play, down 31-22.
The Bucs answered right away with a well-balanced drive that ended in a five-yard touchdown pass to running back Peyton Barber, his first of the season. It made the score 31-29 and the Bucs punted the ball back to the Falcons with 3:47 left in the game. The Falcons would answer with a ridiculous 58-yard field goal to push Atlanta's lead to 34-29, meaning the Bucs needed a touchdown with 1:10 on the clock and no timeouts left.
After a last-second play where the Bucs played bobble ball, they almost pulled it off but would come up short on a missed lateral to DeSean Jackson as the Buccaneers fell to the Falcons 34-29.