The Atlanta Falcons needed to win today to keep pace in the NFC wild card race, and that became a tall order when both quarterback Matt Ryan and running back Michael Turner were knocked out of the game.
But despite trailing for most of the third and fourth quarters, the Falcons came back and earned a hard-fought 20-17 victory.
Falcons backup quarterback Chris Redman played very well in place of Ryan, coming off the bench to complete 23 of 41 passes for 243 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Backup running back Jerious Norwood also played well, both before and after Turner got hurt, carrying six times for 22 yards and also scoring a 22-yard receiving touchdown.
The Falcons improved to 6-5, and although they’ve still got a tough climb to the playoffs, the win allowed them to stay just one game behind the 7-4 Eagles and Packers in the NFC wild card race.
The Bucs fell to 1-10, keeping pace with the Rams and Browns in the first overall draft pick sweepstakes. Tampa Bay might be the worst team in the league, but there is some consolation for the Bucs in knowing that if they do get the first pick in the draft, they won’t have to worry about picking a quarterback.
Tampa Bay rookie Josh Freeman had a great game, completing 20 of 29 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns. The Bucs appear to have their quarterback of the future. Now they just need to surround him with some good teammates.