ATLANTA - Michael Turner kept battering the Buccaneers. John Abraham ran right through them.
With those two dominating Tampa Bay, the Atlanta Falcons managed to overcome their mistakes.
Turner ran for 152 yards, Abraham had three sacks, and the Falcons finished off a sloppy performance with Jason Elam's 34-yard field goal in overtime yesterday, pulling out a crucial 13-10 victory over the Buccaneers to tighten up the NFC playoff race.
Atlanta and Tampa Bay are 9-5 and in the lead in the NFC's wild-card chase. (Both trail Carolina in the NFC South.)
Minnesota is 9-5 after a victory over Arizona yesterday and Dallas is 9-5 after upsetting the New York Giants, 20-8, last night. Chicago is 8-6 after Thursday night's overtime victory over New Orleans.
"To win a game like this, when you're not hitting on all cylinders, is huge," said Mike Smith, Atlanta's rookie coach.
Two guys deserved the bulk of the credit. Turner carried a career-high 32 times, including a couple of big runs on the winning drive. Abraham kept coming at Tampa Bay from all directions, including a possession-ending sack in overtime that caused Bucs tackle Jeremy Trueblood to throw up his hands in frustration.
On Abraham's first sack, he shoved a Tampa Bay lineman into Brian Griese. On the second, he crawled under tackle Donald Penn to get at the fill-in quarterback.
"This will be a fun game to sit down and watch on film," said Abraham, who had his third three-sack game of the season, giving him 151/2 total.
Atlanta twice turned it over near the Tampa Bay end zone and had a huge breakdown on special teams late in the fourth quarter, allowing the Bucs to block a punt that set up Matt Bryant's tying field goal with 48 seconds left in regulation.
But the Falcons stuffed Tampa Bay's only possession of overtime, then drove 55 yards for Elam's winning kick.