Jump to content

Ground assault powers Falcons in 41-7 rout of Cardinals


Recommended Posts

Ground assault powers Falcons in 41-7 rout of Cardinals

By D. Orlando Ledbetter

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Falcons did not take too well to folks who might question their commitment to power football. Held to 58 rushing yards in their opener in Pittsburgh and particularly ripped fo not going for a short fourth-and-1 late in the game, the Falcons on Sunday wanted to prove they still have some major muscle in the run game. This was not good news for the Arizona Cardinals, who got pushed, shoved and kicked around the Georgia Dome in a 41-7 shellacking for Atlanta's home-opener.

Pushed into service, reserve running back Jason Snelling paid a huge dividend after running backs Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood left the game with injuries. Snelling finished with 129 yards on 24 carries and two rushing touchdowns, his bruising drives into the pile breaking down Arizona'sr highly respected 3-4 defense. He also caught five passes for 57 yards and another score.

The Falcons improved to 1-1 while Arizona dropped to 1-1.

"You have to prepare like you're going to be the starter,"Snelling said. "Otherwise you are selling yourself short.

Thanks to his big effort, the Falcons go into their showdown with NFC South rival and defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans next weekend with some steam.

And they gave the Saints some game film to think about. After failing to score a touchdown in the opener, the offensive line set the tone early on a game-opening 70-yard touchdown drive. Right tackle Tyson Clabo gave Arizona's stand-out tackle Darnell Dockett all he could handle, which set the tone. His linemates kept up the high energy. The Falcons wound up scoring four times in their first five possessions.

"It was just a mindset," center Todd McClure said. "A lot of people after that game last week kind of doubted us and didn't know if we had it anymore. We played with that little chip on our shoulders."

Turner suffered a groin injury in second quarter. He was later cleared to return, but with Snelling dishing out the pain, there was no need to risk Turner. He finished with 75 yards on nine carries.

"I don't think it was significant," Falcons coach Mike Smith said of Turner's injury.

Norwood's prognosis was not as clear. He went down on the opening kick-off return, tackled by two Cardinals and injuring his lower leg. He was carted from the field and did not return.

It was a familiar role for Snelling, who filled in for Turner and Norwood last season. It was Snelling's 147 rushing yards in the season finale against Tampa Bay that clinched the franchise's first back-to-back winning seasons.

"You have to be prepared for your opportunity," Snelling said. "When you get your chance, you have to make plays. When a guy goes down, they are not expecting a let-down. They want you to get in there and perform."

After being blanketed by the Steelers a week ago, the Falcons racked up 221 yards on 45 carries against the Cardinals, good for a robust 4.9 average per carry.

"In the NFL, holes are not too big," Snelling said. "But they were pushing the line of scrimmage, they were pushing guys back and there were creases. When you get a crease from a lineman, the running back has to do the rest."

With Snelling holding up his part, the Falcons went out to a 24-7 halftime lead. They added a Brian Finneran touchdown catch and a Matt Bryant field goal in the third quarter. Quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 225 yards and three scores without an interception.

But the day's message was spelled out on the ground and leading 34-7 with 9:46 left to play, the Falcons wanted to put together one last drive to run out the clock. One more time, they mauled the Cardinals with an 11-play, 80-yard drive that took up 6 minutes, 41 seconds.

Snelling ran for 54 yards in the drive, including a 30-yarder and a 7-yard touchdown run. Even fullback Ovie Mughelli got in on the act with five more carries for 16 yards.

"I'd hate to be a defensive guy late in the game and see 44 [Mughelli] coming at me with the ball," McClure said.

Just like old times.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...