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With home-field advantage set in NFC playoffs, Falcons fall flat in 22-17 loss to Buccaneers

  • 2cd840b3ba993324250f6a706700b286.jpg

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Williams (19), left celebrates his touch-down catch with Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Tiquan Underwood (11) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)The Associated Press

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    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Williams (19) makes a touch-down catch during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)The Associated Press

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    Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner (33) reacts with Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Harry Douglas (83) after Turner ran for a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)The Associated Press

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    Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner (33) carries Tampa Bay Buccaneers free safety Ronde Barber (20) into the end zone during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)The Associated Press

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    Atlanta Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel (22) reacts to an interception he made against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)The Associated Press

The Falcons couldn't follow through with their plan to gain momentum for the playoffs as Josh Freeman threw a touchdown pass to Mike Williams, Doug Martin ran for 141 yards and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat Atlanta 22-17 on Sunday.

The Falcons (13-3) had little to play for as they already have home-field advantage through the NFC playoffs. Coach Mike Smith said he wanted to "finish the regular season the right way," and he stayed with his starters through the game.

The danger to Smith's strategy was losing a top starter to an injury. Defensive end John Abraham, Atlanta's best pass rusher, left with an apparent left ankle injury in the fourth quarter. Abraham couldn't put his weight on the ankle as he was helped off the field.

Starting cornerback Dunta Robinson suffered a head injury in the first quarter and did not return.

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