Atlanta coach Mike Smith spoke highly of the Falcons' defense. Without its solid performance, Matt Ryan may not have had an opportunity to lead his latest game-winning drive.
The Falcons (10-1) held off Tampa Bay 24-23 Sunday, overcoming two turnovers by their star quarterback in part because the Buccaneers settled for a pair of field goals rather than touchdowns after Ryan threw a second-quarter interception and lost a fumble on a fourth-quarter sack.
''I thought our defense did an outstanding job again. They were put in some tough situations after turnovers,'' Smith said, adding that limiting Bucs rookie Doug Martin to 50 yards rushing on 21 carries was a key to the game as well.
''We knew it was going to be one of our `musts,' and I thought we did a nice job,'' Smith added. ''I thought we played the run extremely well, controlled the line of scrimmage. That is an outstanding running back.''
Ryan completed his first 10 passes and finished 26 of 32 for 353 yards and one touchdo...