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Missed chip shot costs Falcons a halftime lead in Tampa

Doug Martin, Jonathan Babineaux AP

The Falcons are trying to pull away from the pack in the NFC South. The Buccaneers are trying to show they’re legitimate NFC playoff contenders. Midway through Sunday’s game in Tampa, it looks like it’s going to be a tough battle for both teams.

The Falcons lined up for a chip-shot 22-yard field goal on the last play of the first half, but kicker Matt Bryant missed it, and so the teams went into the locker room tied 10-10.

Atlanta’s defense has generally done a solid job on Buccaneers running back Doug Martin, who did reach the end zone on a one-yard touchdown but has been limited to 24 yards on eight carries. The Buccaneers clearly want to get Martin going, as Josh Freeman has thrown just six passes in the first half.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, on the other hand, is 15-for-19 for 173 yards in the first half, although he had a costly interception, courtesy of Ronde Barber. The Bucs will need a big second half from veterans like Barber and youngsters like Martin if they want to make a big statement in the NFC playoff race.

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