TAMPA, Fla. — It's good to be 2-0 with a franchise-best 10-game winning streak and an NFL-record run of prolific scoring performances in victories.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers insist, however, that they still haven't played anywhere near their potential after pulling away in the fourth quarter to rout the Atlanta Falcons 48-25 on Sunday in the NFC South Division opener for both teams.
"I think we've got a lot to learn from," Bucs coach Bruce Arians said. "It's always better to learn from winning. I like the way we finished the game."
Tom Brady threw for 276 yards and five touchdowns, and Mike Edwards returned two of the defense's three interceptions for touchdowns as the reigning Super Bowl champions scored 30-plus points in a victory for a league-record ninth straight time.
Brady has some context for this level of success: The 44-year-old quarterback was also part of the New England Patriots teams that scored at least 30 in eight straight wins in 2007 and 2010.
"We were a little loose with the ball," he said of Sunday's performance. "Some penalties at different times that knocked us out of some scoring drives. Some missed throws and missed reads. I certainly wish I had made a few better throws."
Brady completed 24 of 38 passes without an interception but was sacked three times, losing a fumble on one of them.
There was also this from the seven-time Super Bowl winner, though: "But it's good to get the win. 2-0. There's a lot to build on."
Brady improved to 9-0 lifetime against the Falcons (0-2), who have lost seven in a row dating to last season, with three of those setbacks coming against the Bucs, who have outscored their rivals 124-62 over the past 10 quarters of those outings.
Tampa Bay tight end Rob Gronkowski caught a pair of touchdown passes for the third straight game, including the Super Bowl, as he and Brady continued to climb the career list for regular-season touchdowns by a passing duo with 88 — one behind Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates for second place. Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison are first with 112.
Mike Evans scored on receptions of 3 yards and 1 yard, the latter set up by Shaquil Barrett's third-quarter interception of Matt Ryan. The veteran Falcons quarterback fell to 0-6 against teams led by Brady, who rallied New England from a 28-3 deficit to beat Atlanta in overtime at Super Bowl LI.
Ryan, who tossed touchdown passes to Calvin Ridley and Cordarrelle Patterson before running for a 2-point conversion to trim an 18-point deficit to 28-25 late in the third, threw a pair of interceptions that Edwards returned 31 and 15 yards for fourth-quarter scores to break the game open.
"These guys kept coming back, back, back," Atlanta first-year coach Arthur Smith said. "It's a shame. You get in there, it's a three-point game, and then it ends the way it does.
"When the score got out of hand, a lot of that was on the offense, right? You can almost put four of those touchdowns (on the offense) — two of them for sure, pick-sixes. Everybody feels sick when you see that box score, but there were some positives."
Ryan was 35-of-46 passing for 300 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
"Got it to a three-point game, and we had some momentum, really did. Credit to them, they changed the tide," Ryan said. "They did a good job in the fourth quarter putting us away. I think there's things we can improve, there's a lot of things we can correct."
Ryan completed passes to 10 players. Ridley had seven catches for 63 yards, and rookie tight end Kyle Pitts, the No. 4 overall draft pick, had 73 yards on five catches.
"This is a message for our guys, our young guys," Ryan said. "It could be frustrating, but it's a wasted opportunity if we don't learn from it and we don't correct it. Experience is great for everyone."
Since trailing the Falcons 17-0 at halftime of their Week 15 meeting in Atlanta last December, Brady has thrown for 11 touchdowns against one interception in guiding the Bucs to three victories in a series in which Tampa Bay has won four of the past five meetings.
Gronkowski, who spent nine seasons with Brady in New England before coming out of retirement to rejoin his longtime teammate with the Bucs last year, scored on receptions of 20 yards and 1 yard in the first half.
Brady's fifth touchdown pass, a 12-yarder to Chris Godwin with just more than nine minutes remaining, put the Bucs over 30 points for a ninth straight game.