Rainey, Bucs win again, top slumping Falcons 41-28

Bobby Rainey’s never lacked confidence in himself. All he wants
is an opportunity to show he can play in the NFL.

”That’s my motivation, when people tell me what I can and
cannot do,” the diminutive running back said Sunday after rushing
for 163 yards and scoring three touchdowns to help the Tampa Bay
Buccaneers dominate the Atlanta Falcons 41-28.

Picked up on the waiver wire last month, Rainey is playing for
his third team in less than two seasons. This performance came six
days after he carried the ball for the first time with Bucs and
played a key role in helping them get their first win.

”To come back and do it again today was huge,” Rainey
said.

The 5-foot-8, 212-pounder whose lack of size hurt his chances of
being drafted is making his mark while filling in for the injured
Doug Martin and Mike James.

Rainey scored on first-half runs of 43 and 3 yards, then caught
a 4-yard TD pass from Mike Glennon in the third quarter to help the
Bucs (2-8) win for the second straight time following an 0-8
start.

The previous week, he rushed for 45 yards and scored the
go-ahead touchdown in a 22-19 victory over Miami. He began the
season as a kick returner and backup running back with the
Cleveland Browns.

”He’s stepped up. We put a lot on his plate, but he’s handled
it well,” receiver Vincent Jackson said.

”He’s being very coachable. He’s taking in everything that’s
being asked of him, doing a great job in the passing game as well,
picking up blocks,” he said. ”I see the kid being successful the
rest of this year. We put guys in position to be successful. Hats
off to our coaches for working with him, putting the time in so he
can go out there and compete.”

Matt Ryan threw an 80-yard TD pass to Harry Douglas, extending
his streak of consecutive games with at least one touchdown to 16
games. He threw a 6-yarder to Roddy White in the fourth quarter,
but also was sacked three times by Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy and had
one of two interceptions returned 37 yards for a TD by linebacker
Mason Foster.

The Falcons (2-8), who went a NFC-best 13-3 and finished one
victory shy of the Super Bowl last season, have lost four straight
by a combined score of 135-61.

”It’s embarrassing, the way we came out and performed as a
team. I mean all of us,” Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez said.
”It’s all of us. (I’m) getting tired of it. It’s all of us. That’s
the thing about it. It’s going to take all of us to get out of
it.”

Falcons owner Arthur Blank said he still has confidence in coach
Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff.

”I absolutely do. And, they’ve earned it over the past five
years,” Blank said. ”It’s a tough business. We’ve had a lot of
injuries, and issues on top of the injuries. These guys are proven
leaders and proven by success. … They’ll do the work that has to
be done with my full support.”

Glennon completed 20 of 23 passes for 231 yards, two touchdowns
and no interceptions. Jackson caught a 3-yard TD pass and finished
with 10 receptions for 165 yards.

Rainey entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with Baltimore
after leaving Western Kentucky as the Hilltoppers’ career rushing
leader. He was released once, re-signed to the Ravens’ practice
squad and eventually wound up on the active roster before suffering
a season-ending knee injury.

Baltimore went on to win the Super Bowl, and Rainey received a
championship ring despite not appearing in a regular-season game as
a rookie.

”I think preparation meets opportunity. … He’s not lucky.
This guy worked his tail off, he trained to do all the right
things, and here come his chance and he’s ready for it,” Bucs
coach Greg Schiano said. ”So good for us, good for him.”

The Bucs opened the season with eight straight losses, with four
of the setbacks coming in the final two minutes of regulation or
overtime. They beat Miami to become the last team in the league to
win this season, and played again Sunday with a confidence that’s
been building since an overtime loss at Seattle two weeks ago.

Ryan completed 19 of 36 passes for 254 yards. He was replaced by
Dominique Davis midway through the fourth quarter, but re-entered
the game after the backup limped off the field with an injury.

The Falcons trailed 41-13 before Antone Smith scored on a
50-yard run and Ryan threw his TD pass to White.

NOTES: Foster, who left the game in the second half with a
concussion, became the first Bucs linebacker since Derrick Brooks
in 2002 to return two interceptions for TDs in the same season. …
The Falcons rushed for 152 yards, most of it in the fourth quarter.
Besides his 50-yard TD burst, Smith gained 38 on his only other
carry. … Douglass had six receptions for 134 yards for
Atlanta.