The No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft led the third game-winning drive of his career Sunday, using his arm and -- surprise -- his legs to beat the reeling Atlanta Falcons 23-19 and keep the surging Bucs in the middle of the race for a NFC playoff berth.
"Our guys kind of refused to lose," coach Lovie Smith said.
With Winston leading the way, the Bucs believe anything is possible with four games remaining in the season.
"As we see it, the playoffs started and we feel like we have to win out," Smith said. "There's no doubt in that locker room We believe we can do it."
Winston, coming off being named NFL offensive rookie of the month for November, threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans with 1:39 remaining to put Tampa Bay ahead for good.
And while 2013 Heisman Trophy wasn't known for his running ability in college at Florida State, he's proving to be an effective ball carrier as a pro. He scored his fourth rushing TD on a 5-yard run in the first quarter, then scrambled up the middle of the field 20 yards on third-and-19 to extend the game-winning drive.
"I don't like judging myself on individual things. But as a team, we're coming around," Winston said. "It's living testimony that you can do anything you put your mind to. If you want it badly enough, you can get it."
Lavonte David sealed the fourth victory in six games for the Bucs (6-6), intercepting Matt Ryan's pass intended for Julio Jones on the first play of Atlanta's final possession. The Falcons (6-6) have lost five straight, six of seven overall, after starting the season 5-0.
"That's as tough as it gets for us," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. "The finish was at hand. For us, finishing is about doing right longer, and we didn't get that done."
Winston completed 18 of 27 passes for 227 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
But it was his timely run and ability to break three tackles and gain another 10 yards after appearing to be stopped at the Atlanta 33 that typified what the rookie has meant to Tampa Bay, which has overcome a slow start to contend for a playoff berth.
"He's a ball player," Smith said, when asked if he's surprised that Winston is a good a runner as he's been. "For you that know him, it's not like we are totally surprised that he would come through with a big play like that. ... In times like that we need one of our best players to step up and make a big play. He did it."
Doug Martin rushed for 95 yards and one TD for Tampa Bay, which drove 80 yards in 12 plays to take the lead for good. Evans finished with five receptions for 61 yards.
Meanwhile, Ryan was 30-of-45 for 269 yards, including a 5-yard TD throw to Nick Williams that put the Falcons up 19-16 early in the fourth quarter. His interception was Atlanta's only turnover of the game.
"It's obviously a disappointing loss. We had opportunities, I thought, throughout the game to score more points," Ryan said. "We didn't come away with enough touchdowns. At the end of the game, obviously, you don't what to turn it over on the first play of the drive. That was disappointing as well."
Shayne Graham kicked four field goals, two of them in the final 1:01 of the opening half to give the Falcons a 9-6 halftime lead. Jones had eight catches for 93 yards, going over 100 receptions in a season for the second straight year. The league's receiving leader has 102 for 1,338 yards through 12 games.
Tampa Bay spent the season series between the NFC South rivals for the first time since 2007. ... Falcons RB Devonta Freeman played after sitting out the previous week with a concussion. He rushed for 47 yards on 14 carries and had 10 receptions for 56 yards. ... The Bucs played without three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who sat out after injuring his left hand injury last week against Indianapolis. ... Former Bucs QB Doug Williams was inducted into the team's Ring of Honor during a halftime ceremony.
Why Orlovsky isn't pinning Saints' woes on Brees
Dan Orlovsky says Drew Brees looks like the same player he's been for the past few years but that the Saints' offense doesn't have enough firepower to hang with the NFL's better offenses.
Add it to the list: Herro Ball joins iconic sports frenzies
Linsanity and Minshew Mania walked so Herro Ball could run. The Miami Heat's supremely confident rookie, Tyler Herro, is the latest star on a long list of athletes who inspired outright frenzies during the past decade.
Biggest Week 4 injury questions for all 32 NFL teams: What's next for Michael Thomas, George Kittle and others
Thomas and Kittle could be nearing a return, but the status of others such as Julio Jones is still unclear. NFL Nation reporters have the latest updates.
Las Vegas Raiders' Derek Carr says players 'felt terrible' about mask issue
Quarterback Derek Carr said Raiders players "weren't trying to be careless or reckless" when they removed their masks at a charity event Monday night.
New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas returns to practice on limited basis
After missing the past two games with a high ankle sprain suffered in the season opener, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday.
Patrick Mahomes: Chiefs' Travis Kelce won't be babysitting
A day after revealing on social media that he and fiancée Brittany Matthews are expecting a baby, the K.C. QB threw a little shade at his tight end.