for this game

Falcons keep playoff push alive with win over Bucs

Dec 15, 2008 - 12:30 AM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Michael Turner and the Atlanta Falcons showed that they are not ready to give up on their Cinderella season just yet.

Jason Elam nailed a 34-yard field goal with 4:04 remaining in overtime and Turner set a franchise record with a 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter to lead the Falcons to a 13-10 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a defensive struggle at the Georgia Dome on Sunday afternoon.

Matt Ryan completed 15-of-23 passes for 206 yards and two interceptions and Roddy White caught four passes for 61 yards for the surprising Falcons, who improved to 9-5 on the season.

"That was fun," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "It was a really exciting football game. Winning a game like this is all part of a process. I'm very proud of the men in the locker room and their resiliency."

Brian Griese completed 26-of-36 passes for 269 yards with a touchdown and an interception in place of the injured Jeff Garcia. Antonio Bryant caught eight passes for 108 yards and a touchdown for Tampa Bay, which fell to 9-5 on the season.

"It was a tough loss," Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden said. "We tried to make some plays, but we just didn't hit today."

Few expected the Falcons to do much of anything this season as it was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the once-downtrodden club.

But new GM Thomas Dimitroff drafted wisely and first-year coach Mike Smith turned the reigns over to Ryan, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2008 draft and the Falcons turned into one of the feel-good stories in the NFL.

"(Winning this one) helps out a whole lot," White said. "We have to win our next two games to get (into the playoffs)."

Atlanta led by three until the final seconds of the contest before Brian Clark blocked Matt Koenan's punt, which was recovered by Sabby Piscitelli at the Falcons 22.

After missing 53-yard field goal moments earlier, Buccaneers kicker Matt Bryant was given a chance at redemption, nailing a 38-yard field goal with 44 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime.

John Abraham thwarted Tampa Bay's first drive, sacking Griese on 3rd-and-8 to knock the Buccaneers back to their own 24 and forcing a punt.

"John had some game-changing plays throughout the game," Smith said. "John Abraham is a having a Pro-Bowl year. When we needed him to come and make a big play, he was able to do that."

Atlanta took over at their 29 and marched down the field. Turner - who finished with 152 yards on 32 carries - lead the way, rushing for 35 yards on the drive, including a 17-yard scamper to take the ball down to the Tampa Bay 18.

The Falcons penetrated to the 16 before Elam nailed the game winning field goal and now Atlanta's playoff hopes look much brighter.

"We wanted to stay alive," Turner said. "It was a playoff atmosphere. It was do or die for us. I just wanted to do my part to help the team win."

After a lost 2007 campaign marred by the antics of former franchise Quarterback Mike Vick, the electricity finally returned back to Georgia Dome on Sunday. The crowd returned in its role as twelfth man, causing a number of false start penalties on the Tampa Bay offense.

Even Smith was riled up for this one, jawing with Bryant on the Atlanta sideline after the Falcons coach thought he spent too much time there.

"Antonio was on our sideline and I politely asked him to go back over to his sideline," Smith said to the laughter in the Atlanta media room.

Tampa Bay wishes that Turner was more polite. Turner shined on Sunday, putting the memory of his season-worst 42 yard performance in the first matchup between the two clubs in the rear view mirror.

The 26-year-old, who until this season was stuck behind LaDainian Tomlinson in the San Diego Chargers' backfield, has been one of the most prolific runners in the NFL this season, entering Sunday second behind Minnesota's Adrian Peterson with 1,269 yards.

It was just another 100-yard day for Turner in this one as he moved into the Falcons record book.

Turner capped a nine-play, 72-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run to give Atlanta a 10-0 lead with 1:01 remaining in the first. The score was the 15th rushing touchdown of the season, surpassing Jamaal Anderson's single-season mark set in the 1998 campaign.

"It's great," said Turner, who surpassed the century mark in rushing for the seventh time this season. "I didn't plan on coming here and breaking records. I just want to do my part. The numbers will take care of themselves."

Tampa Bay drew the contest to 10-7 when Griese found Bryant with a 20-yard TD pass with 11 seconds left in the first half.

But it was the Buccaneer's failure to convert on third down that sealed their fate. Griese and the Bucs converted just 3-of-14 third down opportunities.

"We didn't make enough plays," Griese said. "We shot ourselves in the foot on offense. We weren't very good on third downs. In a close game like that, things like that make a difference."

Elam opened the scoring with a 26-yard field goal for Atlanta, which improved to 6-1 at home this season.






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    Buccaneers 10, Falcons 13  FinalDec 15 12:49 AM


  • NFL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH
    --- --- --- ---
    TAMPA BAY 0 7 0 3
    ATLANTA 10 0 0 0
    OT TOTAL
    --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 0 10
    ATLANTA 3 13 FINAL IN OVERTIME
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: ATL - FG, JASON ELAM 26 YD, 8:10. Drive: 7
    plays, 26 yards

    Dec 14 4:14 PM


  • NFL
    FG ATL
    JASON ELAM 34 YD
    TAMPA BAY 10
    ATLANTA 13 4:04 LEFT, 1ST OT

    Buccaneers 10, Falcons 13  OT - 4:04Dec 14 4:14 PM
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    END, 4TH QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 0 7 0 3 10
    ATLANTA 10 0 0 0 10 GOING INTO OVERTIME
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: ATL - FG, JASON ELAM 26 YD, 8:10. Drive: 7
    plays, 26 yards in 3:40. Key plays:
    Douglas 13-yard punt return to
    Tampa Bay 34; Ryan 23-yard pass to
    Jenkins on 3rd-and-10 to Tampa B

    Dec 14 3:56 PM
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    FG TAM
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    TAMPA BAY 10
    ATLANTA 10 0:44 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Buccaneers 10, Falcons 10  4th - 0:44Dec 14 3:51 PM
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    END, 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 0 7 0 7
    ATLANTA 10 0 0 10 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: ATL - FG, JASON ELAM 26 YD, 8:10. Drive: 7
    plays, 26 yards in 3:40. Key plays:
    Douglas 13-yard punt return to
    Tampa Bay 34; Ryan 23-yard pass to
    Jenkins on 3rd-and-10 to Tampa Bay
    11.

    Dec 14 3:11 PM


  • NFL
    HALFTIME 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 0 7 7
    ATLANTA 10 0 10 HALFTIME
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: ATL - FG, JASON ELAM 26 YD, 8:10. Drive: 7
    plays, 26 yards in 3:40. Key plays:
    Douglas 13-yard punt return to
    Tampa Bay 34; Ryan 23-yard pass to
    Jenkins on 3rd-and-10 to Tampa Bay
    11. ATL

    Dec 14 2:26 PM


  • NFL
    TD TAM
    ANTONIO BRYANT 20 YD PASS FROM BRIAN GRIESE
    (MATT BRYANT KICK)
    TAMPA BAY 7
    ATLANTA 10 0:11 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Buccaneers 7, Falcons 10  2nd - 0:11Dec 14 2:24 PM


  • NFL
    END, 1ST QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    TAMPA BAY 0 0
    ATLANTA 10 10 END, 1ST QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: ATL - FG, JASON ELAM 26 YD, 8:10. Drive: 7
    plays, 26 yards in 3:40. Key plays:
    Douglas 13-yard punt return to
    Tampa Bay 34; Ryan 23-yard pass to
    Jenkins on 3rd-and-10 to Tampa Bay
    11.

    Dec 14 1:41 PM


  • NFL
    TD ATL
    MICHAEL TURNER 1 YD RUN
    (JASON ELAM KICK)
    TAMPA BAY 0
    ATLANTA 10 1:01 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Buccaneers 0, Falcons 10  1st - 1:01Dec 14 1:36 PM


  • NFL
    FG ATL
    JASON ELAM 26 YD
    TAMPA BAY 0
    ATLANTA 3 6:50 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Buccaneers 0, Falcons 3  1st - 6:50Dec 14 1:18 PM
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