Elam's status with Falcons shaky

ATLANTA -- There was no doubt about whom the most relieved person was at the Georgia Dome on Sunday when backup quarterback Chris Redman hit Roddy White in the end zone from 5 yards out for the winning touchdown on a fourth-down pass with 23 seconds remaining.

The person in question wears No. 1 for the Falcons and he graduated from Brookwood.

"They saved me," said Jason Elam, who put Atlanta in the position of needing a TD rather chip-shot field goal after missing from 43 yards out six minutes earlier.

The Falcons' playoff hopes and Elam's job status remain shaky, though, despite the 20-17 victory over woeful Tampa Bay.

Atlanta (6-5) goes into this Sunday's home game against Philadelphia with quarterback Matt Ryan out and knowing that a victory over the Eagles may be needed to keep the team's wild-card hopes alive.

Will Elam still be the Falcons' kicker? Some thought he wouldn't even be around for the Tampa Bay game.

Atlanta brought in four kickers for workouts last week, including former Collins Hill and Georgia standout Brandon Coutu.

"I know what the situation is," said Elam, who met with Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff last week. "I can't keep missing kicks. I have to be more consistent."

One of the most accurate kickers in NFL history previously, the 39-year-old Elam has missed seven times this season after just two misses in his first year with the Falcons. He even missed an extra point.

The longtime Denver standout connected on field goals from 45 and 37 yards out against Tampa Bay, running his second-best NFL streak to points in 263 consecutive games. But all the attention was on his late miss after costly failures the two previous weeks in losses to Carolina and the New York Giants.

"It's been very frustrating," Elam said. "I can't remember the last time I left the field feeling good about my performance."

On the miss, the snap by fill-in Bryan Pittman was low and holder Michael Koenen struggled to get the ball placed properly. But Elam took full blame for the miss.

"I didn't notice the snap. My timing was fine," he insisted. "It's my responsibility to get the ball between the uprights.

"I felt really good on the first two kicks. But I knew I'd missed that one."

Elam admitted prior to the Tampa Bay game that "I'm probably down to my last miss. Another miss and I'm probably done. I understand that."

Coach Mike Smith insisted last week that he still had confidence in Elam, a three-time Pro Bowl pick who has scored at least 100 points in 16 straight seasons, kicked 23-game-winning field goals and tied the NFL record with a 63-yarder.

After the narrow victory over the 1-10 Bucs, Smith was noncommittal about Elam's status. But he seemed to come to Elam's defense.

"There is a snap, there is a hold and there is a kick," the coach said. "... Jason kicked the ball down the middle on two of his opportunities when the operation was clean."