Atlanta Falcons give up early lead to fall in season opener

VIDEO: Dan Quinn, Matt Ryan disappointed by Falcons loss to Bucs

The Atlanta Falcons gave up an early lead to fall in their final home opener at the Georgia Dome to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-24 Sunday.

The Bucs scored 21 unanswered points on three touchdown passes from Jameis Winston. Winston found Charles Sims for a 23-yard score, Austin Seferian-Jenkins for a 30-yard touchdown and Mike Evans for a 45-yard score to take a 31-13 lead midway through the third quarter.

Winston, entering his second season, finished 23-for-33 with 281 yards and four touchdowns. He threw one interception. 

The Falcons fought back scoring 11 unanswered. Down by seven and under two minutes, Matt Ryan tried to put together a drive to at least tie the game. After a 19-yard pass to Jacob Tamme, he threw four incomplete passes, two of which hit the hands of Julio Jones and Mohamad Sanu. The fourth was tipped by the Tampa Bay defense for a turnover on downs.

Ryan was able to find Jones for a 25-yard touchdown earlier in the game, and then connected with Sanu for the two-point conversion to make it a 10-point game late in the third quarter. 

Sanu had a touchdown catch of his own in the first quarter on a 5-yard pass. He had five catches for 80 yards, including a 59-yard catch that set up the Falcons first field goal.

Matt Bryant was 3-for-3 on field goals, and he kicked one with under five minutes to go to put the Falcons within a touchdown.

Jones was unable to break away from Tampa Bay's defense, led by former Atlanta Falcons head coach and now Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith. Jones finished with four catches for 66 yards.

Jones left the game briefly in the second half with an ankle injury but was able to return. He was limping on the offense's final drive. 

Ryan was 27-of-39 for 334 yards and two touchdowns.

The Falcons will travel to the west coast to begin a difficult stretch of their schedule, beginning with the Oakland Raiders.

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