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Atlanta Falcons Team Report

The Falcons will take a much-improved secondary into their second matchup against Carolina and quarterback Jake Delhomme.

In their first game in Week 4 on Sept. 28, Delhomme and veteran wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad put on an air show in the 24-9 Panthers' victory.

Muhammad caught eight passes for 147 yards, and Steve Smith got in on the act with a 56-yard touchdown reception.

In all, Delhomme completed 20 of 29 passes for 294 yards. Muhammad worked over left cornerback Brent Grimes, who was making just his fourth start.

Grimes has since been injured and replaced in the lineup by Domonique Foxworth. Grimes was inactive last week against Denver.

The Falcons expanded their use of a variety of zone defense and have mixed in some man-to-man coverage. They are also utilizing more blitz packages to get pressure.

The Falcons showed they could take away a deep passing game against New Orleans, but Denver's Jay Cutler came in and worked the ball underneath.

"They were dinking and dunking us all day long," linebacker Keith Brooking said.

Stopping the long pass plays had been a focus of the Falcons' defense since getting scorched by Carolina. But Denver did get a key 47-yard pass play on their winning touchdown drive.

"Until that play we did a good job of minimizing their explosive plays," Falcons safety Lawyer Milloy said, referring to plays of 20 or more yards. "Everything we saw on tape, the run after the catch, deep balls, stuff like that we were ready for."

Against the Saints, Chris Houston, Chevis Jackson and Erik Coleman all got interceptions to counteract New Orleans' deep threat. But nobody could come up with a big play in the final minutes against the Broncos.

"Our secondary, I think we're getting better and better each week," Milloy said. "The scoreboard, the outcome didn't show that today. It's coming along."

NOTES, QUOTES

—QB Matt Ryan was deployed a little differently against Denver. The Falcons ran him on a naked bootleg on third-and-1, and he picked up nine yards.

On one play, he lined up at wide receiver out to the right while Jerious Norwood took a direct snap in the Falcons version of the Wildcat formation. Norwood lost three yards on a sweep, but Ryan went downfield and blocked cornerback Josh Bell.

—QB Matt Ryan had completed 104 passes this year at the Georgia Dome without being intercepted before throwing an interception to Dre Bly in the third quarter against Denver.

"You have to be smart and make better decisions," Ryan said. "That led to points, so anytime you have a turnover as a quarterback and it leads to points, it's frustrating."

Ryan completed 20-of-33 passes for 250 yards but watched his streak of games with a touchdown pass end at five in a row. The interception was his sixth on the season, to go with 11 touchdown passes.

—The Falcons did not give up any sacks for the second consecutive game. They have not given up a sack in five games this season.

—In the first meeting with Carolina, the Falcons were held to 118 yards rushing on 23 carries. It was one of two games this season that they did not score a rushing touchdown.

"In this league, you have to have a short-term memory when it comes to losing," center Todd McClure said. "(Carolina) is a big game for us. Hopefully, we can get out there and get this thing headed back in the right direction."

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES

—MLB Curtis Lofton continues to play well. He had six tackles, one tackle for a loss. He was also called on for special teams duties and had two tackles.

—WR Michael Jenkins caught five passes for 55 yards against Denver. He has 29 catches for 450 yards.

—RB Michael Turner has 228 carries for 971 yards. Before this season, Turner had 228 carries in four seasons with San Diego for 1,257 yards. Turner has had at least 25 carries in five of the last season games.

—QB Matt Ryan had a quarterback passing rating of 71.5 against Denver. It was his fourth worst game of the season. He had lower ratings against Philadelphia (68.1), Carolina (60.8) and Tampa Bay (29.6).

—WR Brian Finneran had a season-high four catches for 44 yards. All four of his catches converted third-down tries. After missing the past two seasons, he has 13 catches for 109 yards.

REPORT CARD vs. BRONCOS

PASSING OFFENSE: C — QB Matt Ryan faced relentless blitzes on third down had mixed results. On one play, he recognized the unblocked blitzer and floated a ball to Roddy White who turned it into a 37-yard gain. In the same situation later in the game, Ryan threw off his back foot and was intercepted by Dre Bly. Ryan also missed a wide-open Brian Finneran in the end zone and was late delivering a pass to White in the end zone that he dropped. It would have been a difficult catch, but White thought he should have caught it. Ryan didn't have any touchdown passes for just the third time this season. The Rookie did spread his 20 passes around to six receivers.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D — The Falcons planned on running the ball at will against the 27th ranked rush defense in the league. But the Broncos pulled out their bag of tricks to stop the run. They were stunting and twisting to defeat the Falcons blocking schemes. They used their speed to get to the outside and deny Jerious Norwood the perimeter. RB Michael Turner was held under 100 yards for the second consecutive game. He has cracked the 100-yard barrier in just one of the past five games. Norwood had five carries for 18 yards and was well below his season average of 5.7 yards per carry.

PASS DEFENSE: C — The Falcons were determined to take away the deep pass from Jay Cutler and his fleet of dazzling receivers. So the Broncos adjusted to take the underneath routes the Falcons left open. When Denver needed a big play, Cutler hooked up with Brandon Marshall, who got inside of Chris Houston for a 47-yard gain for their only play of 20 yards or longer. After getting three interceptions and knocking down 15 passes against the Saints, the Falcons didn't have an interception and knocked down only two passes. Defensive end John Abraham was held sackless. Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux got the only sack. They held Cutler, who was coming for a 447-yard passing game, to 216 yards passing but gave up a 9-yard, game-winning touchdown pass to tight end Daniel Graham with under six minutes to play.

RUSH DEFENSE: C — The Broncos, using a makeshift backfield, ran for 124 yards on 25 carries. Fullback Peyton Hillis played tailback, and middle linebacker Spencer Larsen did double duty and started at fullback. Hillis was steady with 44 yards on 10 carries. P.J. Pope came off the bench to add 35 yards on just four carries. Tatum Bell, who was working at his cell phone business in a Denver mall at the beginning of the week, came on to run seven times for 34 yards. It's never good when four of your top five tacklers are defensive backs. The Falcons did stop wide receiver Eddie Royal on two reverses.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B — Kicker Jason Elam continues his steady kicking although he suffered a hip injury last week. He made both of his field goals, from 46 and 36 yards. The kickoff coverage unit had a rough day as Eddie Royal got loose on a 58-yard return.

COACHING: D — Denver head coach Mike Shanahan brought his "A" game from a play-calling standpoint. He kept head coach Mike Smith and defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder off balance all day. The Falcons prepared for deep passes, but Shanahan called for short passes. The Broncos dinked and dunked the ball down the field for a touchdown on their first drive of the game and did the same thing for a touchdown drive on their first possession after halftime. Shanahan also used three running backs to generate enough of a rushing attack to allow Cutler some time when he was ready to drop the ball off short. This was the first game that Falcons players said they were caught off guard.

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yeah, the rat outcoached Smitty....this time.

And you know what? For all the talk of Ryan being a rookie and this being a rebuilding season, no one talks much about the fact that the Falcons coaching staff is new to working together, and mostly that Mike Smith is a rookie HC. He's got a learning curve as well.

So yeah, he was outcoached - this time! ;)

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Atlanta Falcons Team Report

The Falcons will take a much-improved secondary into their second matchup against Carolina and quarterback Jake Delhomme.

In their first game in Week 4 on Sept. 28, Delhomme and veteran wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad put on an air show in the 24-9 Panthers' victory.

Muhammad caught eight passes for 147 yards, and Steve Smith got in on the act with a 56-yard touchdown reception.

"I can't wait to get to Atlanta and match up against that little midget CB they put on me last time!" said Muhammad.

When told that he would be up against Dominique Foxworth this Sunday, Muhammad replied (under his breath), "Sh-t!"

:lol::lol:

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And you know what? For all the talk of Ryan being a rookie and this being a rebuilding season, no one talks much about the fact that the Falcons coaching staff is new to working together, and mostly that Mike Smith is a rookie HC. He's got a learning curve as well.

So yeah, he was outcoached - this time! ;)

Not necessarily. If Roddy makes that catch, we win. We played hard all game. They just made one more play than we did. I'm not sure that constitutes being outcoached. The game was back and forth in the second half. In the first half, we owned. Denver made adjustments and believe it or not, they have a potent offense. We held a potent O from beating us deep.

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