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.