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Falcons extend NFC South lead, defeat Buccaneers

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By Fred Goodall, AP Sports Writer

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Matt Ryan threw for 353 yards and overcame two big turnovers by leading another late touchdown drive to give the Atlanta Falcons a 24-23 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

Ryan teamed with Julio Jones on an 80-yard TD in the third quarter, but the NFC South leaders found themselves trailing 23-17 after the Bucs marched for a touchdown, then forced a fumble by Ryan to set up a field goal that put the Falcons in catchup mode.

Michael Turner's 1-yard TD run put Atlanta ahead for good with 7:55 left. Connor Barth missed a 56-yard goal for Tampa Bay (6-5) in the closing minutes, and the Bucs' four-game winning streak ended when Josh Freeman's desperation pass fell incomplete in the end zone with no time remaining.

The win enabled the Falcons (10-1) to keep pace with Houston for the NFL's best record. Turner also scored a fourth-quarter TD that helped the Falcons overcome mistakes to beat Arizona 23-19 last week.

Game stats

Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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