ATLANTA — Chris Redman threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Roddy White with 23 seconds remaining, and the Atlanta Falcons pulled out a 20-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday after losing offensive stars Matt Ryan and Michael Turner to injuries.
The Falcons (6-5) were in deep trouble after Jason Elam missed another field goal try, this one from 43 yards, and the Bucs (1-10) drove into Atlanta territory.
But Connor Barth just missed on a 51-yard try with 2:30 left, giving the Falcons one more chance. Redman, who took over after Ryan injured his right big toe on Atlanta's first series, calmly directed a 59-yard drive that may have saved the season.
On fourth-and-goal at the 5, Redman hit White on a slant coming off the middle while cornerback Derrick Roberson made a futile swipe at the ball.
A blocked punt by Corey Lynch set up Josh Freeman's 8-yard touchdown pass to Carnell Williams early in the third quarter, putting the Bucs ahead 17-10.
The lead almost held up against the Falcons, who lost Turner in the third quarter. Atlanta's top runner apparently reinjured his right ankle, a problem that kept him out of the previous game.
Redman, who started for Atlanta in 2007 after Michael Vick was suspended, had played only a couple of plays in two years since Ryan's arrival.
But with the second-year quarterback watching from the sideline in street clothes, a special shoe on his right foot, Redman led a comeback win in a game the Falcons absolutely had to have for their NFC playoff hopes after losing four of five.
Redman completed four passes to Tony Gonzalez for 34 yards, and the Falcons got a big break when Roberson was called for holding on an incomplete pass to the other side of the field.
Still, Tampa Bay was one stop away from just its second win after Redman threw three straight incomplete passes from the 5. On the final try, White hauled in the pass and was mobbed by teammates Gonzalez and Eric Weems.
On the Tampa Bay sideline, coach Raheem Morris kneeled down in disbelief. The embattled Morris had taken over defensive playcalling duties earlier in the week after demoting coordinator Jim Bates. The move nearly paid immediate dividends. Instead, the Bucs had another crushing loss in a season filled with them.
Despite being sacked five times, Redman completed 23 of 41 for 243 yards, also flipping a quick pass to Jerious Norwood that was little more than a handoff but wound up being a 22-yard touchdown, giving the Falcons an early 10-0 lead.
The Bucs fought back to tie the game before halftime. Josh Freeman went deep down the left sideline to Antonio Bryant, who leaped up to snatch the ball away from Falcons cornerback Tye Hill, then rolled into the end zone when he realized he hadn't been touched for a 42-yard touchdown. Barth booted a 39-yard field goal with 20 seconds remaining in the half.
Freeman, coming off a four-turnover performance in a 31-point loss to New Orleans, bounced back nicely in his fourth career start. He was 20 of 29 for 250 yards and didn't have any turnovers, managing to recover a fumble that was his only major mistake.