TAMPA, Fla. — Matt Ryan played fairly ordinary before Matty Ice came through again for the Atlanta Falcons.
The streaking NFC South leaders won their sixth straight game Sunday, with Ryan finishing another fourth-quarter rally to help the Falcons (10-2) retain sole possession of first place with a 28-24 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"When you come out and you don't play as well as you like, but you still find a way to win, those are signs of a good football team," Ryan said. "We feel like today was a good example of that for us."
Ryan threw two interceptions — Atlanta's first turnovers in five games — but was at his best with the game on the line. As usual.
The third-year pro finished his sixth fourth-quarter, game-winning drive of the season with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins with 4:31 remaining. It's the 13th time in his career that he's led a winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime.
Eric Weems got the comeback from a 10-point deficit started by scoring on a 102-yard kickoff return. Brent Grimes sealed the win with an interception that stopped Tampa Bay's final possession deep in Falcons territory.
"The mindset was the same. We felt like we could go down the field and score," Ryan said. "We're confident in that situation. We've been in those situations a number of times this year. ... Nobody panicked because we understand that we can make plays when we need to."
Ryan kept the 10-play, 67-yard march alive with a 25-yard completion to Roddy White on third-and-20. The Falcons, who stayed one game ahead of New Orleans in the division, also benefited from a couple of costly penalties on the Bucs.
"We felt like we really outplayed them for most of the game, but it's the NFL," Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman said. "You have to find a way to win in the fourth quarter nearly every week, and today we weren't able to do that."
Rookie LeGarrette Blount rushed for 103 yards and fullback Earnest Graham threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to John Gilmore for Tampa Bay (7-5), which is 7-0 against teams with losing records compared to 0-5 against opponents with winning marks.