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Patriots control the clock and the Falcons, win 26-10


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The New England Patriots control the clock and the Atlanta Falcons, win 26-10

September 27, 10:57 PM Atlanta Falcons Examiner Daniel Cox

On a rain soaked field in Foxboro, Massachusetts on Sunday the Atlanta Falcons experienced their first slip of the 2009 regular season, losing to the New England Patriots 26-10.

In a game that many close to the league billed as the game of the week, and one of the more important games in recent Atlanta franchise history, the Patriots looked less like the struggling team of the two past weeks and more like the juggernaut that has controlled football for this decade.

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan's stats appear as if his day was worse than it was. His 17 for 28 passing for 199 yards is not up to par with his previous two weeks efforts, but the loss was anything but his fault. Ryan fell victim to a near-perfect game plan from New England, designed to control the ball (New England bested Atlanta's time of possession by almost 20 minutes) for extended drives and take away the Falcons' playmakers.

"I feel like we did a good job of recognizing what they were doing," Ryan said. "We just didn't go out there and make the plays. Again, I think it comes down to personnel. Their personnel did a better job than we did today and we need to improve on that during the bye week."

Atlanta running back Michael Turner's damage was minimized. The Patriots held him to 56 yards on 15 rushing attempts and held the entire Falcons rushing attack to 58 yards rushing. On a wet day at Gillette Stadium, the running game needed to be the focus and Atlanta couldn't accomplish anything consistent in that area.

On the other hand, New England was able to get the tough yards, rushing for 168, led by Fred Taylor's 105 yards and one touchdown.

The game was close into the fourth quarter, but Atlanta was held to two straight three-and-out possessions, while the Patriots scored on a 36-yard pass from Tom Brady to tight end Chris Baker. That score put the game out of reach, 26-10 with less than eight minutes remaining and also put Brady in the record books, becoming the 27th player in NFL history to achieve 200 touchdown passes. The New England quarterback finished the day 25 of 42 for 277 yards and one touchdown.

Atlanta's hung tough for much of the game, limiting New England to only one touchdown on five trips inside the red zone. But clock management and the Falcons' ineffectiveness on third down conversions (two of nine for 22%) could not keep the offense on the field long enough to do much damage. Despite the adverse situations, Smith believed his team continued with a strong effort.

"I learned that our guys played hard," Smith said. "We did not quit. Those guys were battling. Battling through adversity. Battling through a lot of things. Again, that's a good football team in a hostile environment. That's the first time we've played outside. It's our first road game of the season. We'll learn a lot from this."

Turner scored his second touchdown of the season in the second quarter when he broke into the end zone on a two-yard run to tie the game at 10-10. Atlanta would never score again, but was putting together a nice drive (six plays with four first downs) before Turner fumbled the football on a strong tackle from safety Brandon McGowan with four minutes remaining in the half.

"The DB slid underneath," Turner said of the fumble. "I had the ball with two hands; he hit it right on. It's just one of those things, but I've got to hang on to it."

Safety James Sanders recovered and New England drove to a field goal to bring the score to 13-10, leaving Atlanta with only 20 seconds remaining in the half.

Despite the knowledge that pressuring Brady would be the best way to slow down New England's offense, Atlanta was unable to come away with any sacks of the four-time Pro Bowler. The effort was there, but Brady used the play action to put Atlanta's rushers on their heels, giving him more time to make his reads. Falcons defensive end John Abraham felt he got close to Brady a few times, but the pass rush in general lacked.

"They did a great job with the play action," Abraham said. "Also when they had a chance to run the ball they did a good job running it. Fred Taylor came in and played real well. Play action was kind of sticking us on our blocks. A few times we knew it was play action, but we didn't play it well. They did a great job with play action."

Atlanta leaves New England heading into a bye week. They'll spend Week 4 off, regrouping before they return to the road for a matchup with the San Francisco 49ers on October 11. They return to Atlanta for the Chicago Bears on October 18.

Game Notes: Wide Receiver Michael Jenkins had five catches for 78 yards; Tight end Tony Gonzalez had one catch for 16 yards; Receiver Roddy White had four catches for 24 yards and two costly drops; Linebacker Curtis Lofton led the team with 13 tackles; Cornerback Brian Williams was second with seven tackles; New England wide receiver Randy Moss had 10 receptions for 116 yards.


Tom Brady bunch has the last laugh against Falcons

September 28, 7:58 AM Atlanta Sports Examiner Mike Tierney

Only in New England does its NFL team win by 16 freakin' points and the reaction is: Well, that was a little better, but our Patriots have a long way to go. Hey, where's my clam chowder? Had the Falcons beaten the Pats Sunday, they'd have come home to a ticker-tape parade. Instead, it was 26-10 for (Tom) Brady's Bunch as the home team hogged the ball for two-thirds of the game.

The Pats' offense was (1.) run the ball (2.) throw to the human telephone pole Randy Moss. The Falcons' mini-cornerbacks did an admirable job on the towering Moss, who nonetheless reeled in 10 catches and drew a couple of interference flags.

Though Brady has not returned to pre-injury form from 2007, this was not an opportune time to play the Pats. They were coming off a great-escape win and a humbling loss. The natives were growing as restless as Boston Tea Party protesters. It was the sort of scenario in which esteemed franchises nearly always win.

The Falcons' Matt Ryan hardly disgraced himself in his homecoming. He just didn't get enough snaps -- only 45, as many passes as Brady flung -- to establish a rhythm.

Of larger concern was the lack of a pass rush. Brady threw 45 times without a sack in the second straight game when the opposing QB did not get his jersey dirty. A bye week awaits to figure that one out.


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Thought the following sentences from the last article fairly well summed-up the Patriots offensive game strategy:

"The Pats' offense was (1.) run the ball (2.) throw to the human telephone pole Randy Moss. The Falcons' mini-cornerbacks did an admirable job on the towering Moss, who nonetheless reeled in 10 catches and drew a couple of interference flags."

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