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Falcons beat Bucs, 45-24, clinch NFC's No. 5 seed

By Charles Odum

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Jan. 1 2012 5:31 p.m. MST

Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner (33) runs alone up the sideline for a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012, in Atlanta.

John Bazemore, Associated Press

ATLANTA — Julio Jones caught two touchdown passes in a span of 26 seconds, Michael Turner ran for two scores and the Atlanta Falcons used a team-record 42 first-half points to cruise to a 45-24 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday to clinch the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs.

The Falcons (10-6) and Detroit (10-6) are the NFC wild-cards. Atlanta, which beat Detroit on Oct. 23, won the tiebreaker with the Lions for the more favorable seeding. The Falcons will play at the winner of Sunday night's Dallas-New York Giants game in the first round of the playoffs.

Josh Freeman threw two interceptions and lost a fumble in the first half as the Buccaneers (4-12) closed their season with their 10th straight loss, leaving the status of coach Raheem Morris in doubt.

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