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Redemption for the O-Line


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Redemption for the O-Line;One week after struggling against the Steelers' defense, the Falcons

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Jeff Haws; For the AJC , The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Updated Sep 21, 2010 6:59 AM ET

The offensive linemen heard the whispers last week. After the Steelers held the Falcons to 58 rushing yards, there was no shortage of people willing to make them the scapegoat for the offensive issues in the season-opening loss.

Expect a different tone now.

"Sometimes you go out there and things are just clicking," tackle Tyson Clabo said after the Falcons collected 221 rushing yards against Arizona. "The thing is, last week they were ready to trade all five of us in and get a brand new offensive line. This week everybody's going to be talking about how good we are. So you have to take everything with a grain of salt. It's a long year."

It would be even longer if the offense had continued to scuffle along, unable to post numbers or score points. At least some of those struggles the previous week can be attributed to the offensive line's inability to open holes against the Steelers' front seven.

Against the Cardinals, though, everything came together. There were huge holes all day for Michael Turner and Jason Snelling, the latter taking over the featured back role after Turner left the game in the first half with a groin injury.

Snelling and Turner combined for 204 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries, with both repeatedly getting downfield before being touched.

It's no coincidence that quarterback Matt Ryan (21 of 32, 225 yards, 3 TDs) and the passing game woke up at the same time the running game got going.

"I think it gives you a great chance to win when you can run the ball like that and protect the quarterback," center Todd McClure said. "Hopefully, this is something we can build off of. Hopefully, this won't be the most yards we'll rush for this season."

They did that Sunday, helping the offense put up 41 points and allowing one sack to go along with the impressive rushing stats.

The front-line dominance really showed on the Falcons' final touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. All Ryan did was hand it off to either Snelling or fullback Ovie Mughelli 11 times during an 80-yard march that ended with Snelling's second touchdown run and a 41-7 Falcons lead.

"That's where you want to be," McClure said. "That's what this game's all about, to be able to run the ball when they know you're going to run it. They can line up to stop it; it's just a test of wills."

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