TAMPA, Fla. (AP)It looked as if the Atlanta Falcons’ chances to end the NFL’s longest active road losing streak literally slipped away from Desmond Ridder’s fingers in the fourth quarter.
Then, the second-year quarterback showed why the Falcons feel they have their quarterback of the future, connecting with another young budding star, Kyle Pitts, on a 39-yard pass play in the final minute to set up a game-winning field goal that not only ended an eight-game road skid but lifted the Falcons (4-3) into first place in the NFC South.
A week after throwing three interceptions during an eight-point loss to Washington, Ridder fumbled three times in the red zone. The last of the miscues cost him a 12-yard touchdown run that would have put Atlanta up 10 points with less than four minutes to go.
“At the end of the day, I just have to do a better job of taking care of the ball.” Ridder said.
Ridder’s fumble on a sack stopped the Falcons from going ahead at the half, and he lost another fumble in the third quarter inside the Bucs 1.
“There’s no magical potion to fix fumbles.” Ridder said. “It’s just strapping up and knowing that you’ve got to protect the football. That’s what this game is about, protecting the football. The ball is the key, The ball is the issue. At the end of the day from me and everyone else but obviously me today. I’ve got to just do a better job of that.”
Ridder went 19 of 25 for 250 yards without an interception. He launched the game-winning drive after Tampa Bay’s Chase McLaughin kicked a 36-yard field goal to make it 13-13 with less than a minute remaining.
“We don’t worry about the outside noise,” Atlanta wide receiver Scotty Miller said. “We all believe in Des, We believe he’s our guy. Obviously there’s things to clean up, but there’s things everyone has got to clean up.”
Miller, a former Bucs’ player, had one catch for 46 yards that came during a second-quarter drive that ended with a 24-yard field goal by Koo.
“We still got the win,” Miller said. “And imagine if we play a little cleaner.”
The Falcons played most of the game without rookie running back Bijan Robinson, who felt ill during pregame drills and played sparingly. He had just one carry for 3 yards.
Tyler Allgeier and Cordarrelle Patterson shared the rushing workload as the Falcons finished with 156 yards rushing to complement Ridder’s passing.
Atlanta won on the road for the first time since a 27-23 victory at Seattle on Sept. 25, 2022.
“It was a great team win,” Ridder said. “Offense, defense, special teams. we were never out of it. Never out of the fight. Come back to win. Always stay calm, cool, collective no matter what happened.”
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