“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 rout 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.
Rainey scored on first-half runs of 43 and 3 yards, then caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Mike Glennon in the third quarter to help the Bucs (2-8) win for the second consecutive time following an 0-8 start.
Matt Ryan threw two touchdown passes, but also was sacked three times by Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy and had one of two interceptions returned 37 yards for a touchdown 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 in a row 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.”
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.