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Falcons’ last-minute win over Bucs could be season defining

There are moments every NFL season that could be deemed as defining for playoff contenders.

The Falcons had one of those moments in Week 12.

Atlanta lost Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and two starting offensive linemen on Sunday, but found a way to come from behind in the closing minutes to knock off division rival Tampa Bay, 20-17. Chris Redman completed 23-of-41 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns while subbing for Ryan (who hurt his foot early in the first quarter and never returned), and also found Roddy White on a 4th and goal from the 5-yard line to lift Atlanta to victory.

Outside of two separate 18-yard runs by Turner and Jerious Norwood, the Falcons had no running game, which made things tougher on Redman. It also didn’t help that starting left tackle Sam Baker and starting right guard Harvey Dahl left the game due to injuries and the Bucs revved up the pressure. Tampa produced six sacks on the day and harassed Redman for the majority of the game.

But with the game on the line, Redman was excellent. With 2:30 left on the clock and zero timeouts, he led the Falcons 59 yards for the game-winning score by taking what the Bucs gave them and methodically marching down the field. On the crucial fourth down attempt, Redman threw a bullet to White, who made an incredible catch in between defenders to secure the catch.

The Falcons have a ton of injuries, can’t defend the pass, need a new kicker (Jason Elam is horrible) and have two daunting home games against the Eagles and Saints over the next two weeks, but if they can build off the momentum they seized today, then they’ll make the playoffs. One could argue that they should have beaten a bad Tampa team by more than three points at home. But considering they were playing with several backups (including Redman), the only thing that matters is that they produced a victory. And with winnable games against the Jets, Bills and Bucs down the stretch, if they can find a way to beat either the Eagles or Saints over the next two weeks then a 10-win season is a possibility.

Speaking of Tampa, Josh Freeman (20-of-29 for 250 yards, 2 TDs) played very well and the defense responded to Morris calling the plays for the first time this season. But Morris’ decision to attempt a long field goal late in the fourth quarter set the Falcons up with prime field position to mount their comeback. Had Morris decided to punt, the Falcons would have had to drive the length of the field with no timeouts. Hindsight is always 20/20, but the decision to attempt the field goal doomed the Bucs.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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