Is this the best team in the NFL?

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Is this the best team in the NFL?

From Comcast SportsNetTAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- No one has led more late game-winning drives during the past five seasons than Matt Ryan, and the Atlanta Falcons quarterback did it again with his fifth one this season.Matty Ice threw for 353 yards and overcame two critical turnovers to stop Tampa Bay's four-game winning streak with a 24-23 victory on Sunday.The Falcons (10-1) are tied with the Houston Texans for the NFL's best record, and Ryan had plenty of help in withstanding a challenge from the up-and-coming Buccaneers (6-5)."They are playing with a lot of confidence," said Ryan, who has won seven of his past eight starts against the Bucs. "It's always been a tough place for us to come play. They play with great effort, and I think they have a good football team."Ryan teamed with Julio Jones on an 80-yard TD midway through the third quarter, but the Falcons found themselves trailing 23-17 after the Bucs marched for a touchdown, then used a sack-fumble to set up a field goal that left Atlanta needing another strong finish from their quarterback.Ryan obliged by a leading a six-play, 64-yard march that Michael Turner finished with a 3-yard TD run that put the NFC South leaders ahead for good with 7:55 remaining.Connor Barth missed a 56-yard goal for Tampa Bay (6-5) in the closing minutes, and the winning streak that's helped the Bucs climb back into playoff contention following a slow start ended when Josh Freeman's desperation pass fell incomplete in the end zone on the final play."The last drive, that's something we've done before this season," Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez said. "I really think that's a positive for us to be able to come up with plays like that when we have to like that. ... I'm really happy with the way we responded."It's getting to be a way of life. Ryan has also led late marches to beat Carolina, Washington, Oakland and Arizona this season and has put together 21 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime since entering the league in 2008 -- four of them against the division rival Bucs.The Falcons won't have long to celebrate this one. The host the New Orleans Saints Thursday night in a rematch of the only game they've lost."Ten-and-1 is great, but I'll tell you what I've said since the beginning of the season: We're just jockeying for position," Gonzalez said. "We just want to put ourselves in the best position, playing the best football. Right around this time is when you want to start gelling as a team and take it on into the playoffs because that's the most important thing."The win stopped the Bucs, who've won five or seven following a 1-3 start, from tightening the NFC South standings. Turner also scored a fourth-quarter TD that helped the Falcons overcome six turnovers to beat Arizona 23-19 last week.Doug Martin scored on a pair of 1-yard run for the Bucs, however the rookie who began the day leading the NFL in total yards from scrimmage was limited to 50 yards rushing on 21 carries.Barth kicked field goals of 22, 42, and 48 yards, the latter giving the Bucs their six-point lead after cornerback E.J. Biggers sacked Ryan to force a fumble. Ryan threw a second-quarter interception -- his sixth pick in two weeks -- that led Barth's field goal that made it 10-10 at the half.Ryan completed 26 of 32 passes, including four straight on the drive that Turner finished with his TD run. Jacquizz Rodgers had a 5-yard TD run in the first quarter, and Jones finished with six receptions for 147 yards despite playing on a sore right ankle that limited him in practice.Ryan started the game with 10 straight completions before Ronde Barber's interception and 28-yard return to the Atlanta 31 led to Barth's first field goal.The Falcons drove to the Tampa Bay 4 in the closing seconds of the half, but wasted an opportunity to regain the lead when Matt Bryant hooked a 22-yard field-goal attempt wide left as time expired. The Atlanta kicker missed a 48-yarder with 8 seconds left, giving the Bucs one more chance to pull out what would have been their first signature victory under first-year coach Greg Schiano."It was a hard-fought game by both teams, a very physical game," Schiano said. "But I do think missed opportunities were a big part of it. There were some chances both offensively and defensively, and in the kicking game."Freeman finished 19 of 30 for 256 yards, and Vincent Jackson had five catches for 96 yards. A big factor in the loss, though, was Atlanta's held the Bucs to field goals after each of Ryan's turnovers, once after Tampa Bay had 1st-and-goal at the Atlanta 3."I thought our defense did an outstanding job again. They were put in some tough situations after turnovers," Falcons coach Mike Smith said, adding that slowing Martin was one of the keys 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."NOTES:Falcons starting cornerbacks Asante Samuel (shoulder) and Dunta Robinson (head) left the game with injuries in the third quarter. ... Barber, who made his 210th straight start to tie Jim Otto for the seventh-most consecutive starts in NFL history, has 47 career interceptions. ... Martin has 1,050 yards rushing yards, eighth-most in a season by a Tampa Bay running back. ...Gonzalez had five receptions for 62 yards, and Roddy White had six for 57 yards for Atlanta.

Warriors rookie McCaw starts vs Nets with Durant ruled out

Warriors rookie McCaw starts vs Nets with Durant ruled out

OAKLAND -- With Kevin Durant out of the Warriors lineup Saturday night with swelling in his left pinky finger, rookie wing Pat McCaw will start at forward against Brooklyn at Oracle Arena.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr made the announcement two hours before tipoff.

As for Durant, the contusion in his left pinky finger, sustained Thursday, is still in the healing process.

“Kevin’s hand is still a little swollen,” Kerr said. “It’s not anything we want to mess around with. We’ve got a long trip coming up, a lot of games. It made sense to give him the night off. We’ll have tomorrow off, flying in to Philadelphia. So hopefully the next couple days it’ll calm down and be fine. It’s kind of a day-to-day thing.”

The decision to start McCaw -- who often competes with Ian Clark for playing time -- was based mostly on how he matches up against the Nets.

“They both have my trust and my confidence,” Kerr said. “Both of them are very effective. It’s depending what we need. If we need ball movement and cutting, I’m more likely to go to Ian. He’s a great back-cutter and he gives our offense flow and he’ll make spot-up shots. If we need some size defensively, we’ll go to Patrick. They’ve both been effective. I wouldn’t say either one is ahead of the other. They’re both going to play.”

New acquisitions shine as Quakes end preseason with win over USL's Republic

New acquisitions shine as Quakes end preseason with win over USL's Republic

The San Jose Earthquakes concluded their 2017 preseason campaign with a 4-1 win against Sacramento Republic FC at Avaya Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Shea Salinas, Simon Dawkins, Jahmir Hyka and Danny Hoesen each scored for the Earthquakes in the victory to give San Jose a 6-1-2 record in preseason play.

In the 14th minute, Salinas gave the Earthquakes a 1-0 advantage when he one-timed Tommy Thompson's cross into the back of the net. In the buildup to the goal, Nick Lima threw the ball in and found fellow Homegrown player Thompson on the right side of the six-yard box. With one touch, Thompson crossed the ball to Salinas who made no mistake with his finish.

Republic FC equalized the match in the 54th minute with a penalty from Sammy Ochoa after Anibal Godoy was called for a handball in the box.

The Earthquakes regained the lead in the 66th minute when Dawkins sent a powerful low shot into the bottom left corner of Sacramento's goal from the top of the 18-yard box after receiving a through pass from Darwin Ceren.

After entering the match at halftime, Hyka made the game 3-1 in the 79th minute, finishing Godoy's cross with one touch.

Hoesen concluded the scoring for the Quakes in first minute of stoppage time after he dribbled past the Sacramento defense and sent the ball across the goal into the bottom right corner to make the final score 4-1.

"It was good," said Quakes defender and second-ever Homegrown signing Nick Lima, who started Saturday. "It was obviously our first time in the preseason in the stadium. It was good to get out there with our starters and I think we finished the way we wanted to. There's obviously a lot of improvement that we need to do, but now we have a week just to focus on Montreal. That was the ultimate goal from the beginning of preseason to get ready for that game and I think we took a step in the right direction."

The Earthquakes will start the 2017 MLS Regular Season next Saturday, March 4, at 6:45 p.m. against the Montreal Impact.

Earthquakes media services.