By Paul Newberry, AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — The best team in the NFC?
Not on this day.
Michael Turner scored two early touchdowns and the Atlanta Falcons held off Tampa Bay with a gutty goal-line stand, taking over sole possession of first place in the NFC South with a 27-21 victory Sunday.
Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris had proclaimed his team the best in the NFC, and it looked like the Buccaneers might back him up after Michael Spurlock had an 89-yard touchdown on a kickoff return and then Josh Freeman guided a drive that reached the Atlanta 2.
On fourth-and-1, Freeman faked a handoff to Ryan Purvis, a tight end lined up at fullback, and then gave it to LeGarrette Blount for a run over right tackle. But Thomas DeCoud charged up to stuff the play, and Coy Wire finished off Blount to make sure he couldn't stretch across for a first down.
The ball went over to the Falcons (6-2), who ran out the clock after Turner picked up the necessary first down with one final run. He finished with 27 carries for 107 yards, his fourth 100-yard performance in the past six games.
Give the Bucs credit, though.
The Falcons thoroughly dominated much of the game and Freeman - who had been doing a good job not turning the ball over - had a pair of interceptions.
But Tampa Bay (5-3) dominated on special teams and still had a chance at the end to pull out the victory in a matchup of the teams that came into the day tied with the New York Giants for the best record in the conference. The Giants were playing at Seattle later in the day.
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