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Douglas shows old form on deep ball against Panthers

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Douglas shows old form on deep ball against Panthers

CHARLOTTE -- For Falcons wide receiver Harry Douglas, it's been a long, hard road back from his 2009 season-ending knee injury.

He's played all season, but hasn't been as effective as he was as a rookie in 2008.

The Falcons were elated to see Douglas get open deep on a 46-yard catch in the first quarter, aiding a second scoring drive that enabled them to take an early 14-0 lead and an eventual 31-10 victory over Carolina.

It was Douglas' longest gain of the season. He had a 34-yard reception against San Francisco on Sept. 26 for his previous best.

"We knew that on third down and 2 to 5 that the majority of time they play man coverage," Douglas said. "Me and Matt (Ryan) worked all week on throwing routes and getting extra routes in so that me and him would be on the same page."

As soon as the defensive back tried to jump in Douglas' face, the Falcons' receiver scooted around him and got separation.

"I knew that it was going to be a big gainer," Douglas said. "Matt put the ball in the right spot and I just went down there and caught it."

Douglas missed last season after suffering a knee injury in training camp. He has 20 catches for 265 yards and a touchdown this season.

"Actually, the last [two to three] weeks, I've been really feeling like myself," Douglas said. "I'm feeling 100 percent again."

Wide receiver Roddy White, who finished with eight catches for 79 yards against Carolina, believes Douglas could provide an added spark to the offense down the stretch.

"We need Harry," White said. "He's such an explosive player in this offense. We need him to get going, and today they hit one."

Ryan appreciated Douglas' route.

"Harry adds another dimension to our offense," Ryan said. "He left me some room on the sidelines for that ball to fade out and separate from that defender."

Run defense battered

Carolina running back Jonathan Stewart surpassed the 100-yard mark on his 42-yard run in the third quarter. He finished with 133 yards on 18 carries.

Overall the Panthers rushed 28 times for 212 yards, and Carolina running back Mike Goodson scored on a nifty 13-yard run in the third quarter.

The Falcons' run defense had been stingy until Tampa Bay's LeGarrette Blount rushed for 103 yards a week ago. Before Blount's outburst, they had gone nine games without allowing a 100-yard rusher.

"We definitely know that people are going to see this game and see how many yards they had rushing and try to work on that," defensive end John Abraham said.

Turnovers set pace

The Falcons used a turnover to fuel their fast start: cornerback Dunta Robinson recovered a Stewart fumble on Carolina's first play from scrimmage.

"I just saw the ball and it pop up straight up," Robinson said. "I just grabbed it and held it as tight as I could."

Linebacker Mike Peterson, who caused the fumble, also came up with an interception with 6:14 left in the fourth quarter.

"Stephen Nicholas was able to get his hands on it," Peterson said. "He's not known for catching it. His hands are pretty bad. He can do all of the tipping and I'll do all of the catching."

The Falcons converted both turnovers into touchdowns.

The forced fumble was the team's seventh of the season, and was Peterson’s second.

The Falcons have scored 84 points off 24 turnovers; they entered the game ranked sixth in the NFC with 70 points on 22 takeaways.

Johnson, Smith pull duty

Backup Running back Jason Snelling, who has a hamstring injury and didn’t practice last week, was inactive. Running backs Antone Smith and Gartrell Johnson III were active and served as Michael Turner’s backups.

Johnson had six carries for 8 yards. Smith played on special teams.

In the second quarter on a third-and-4 situation from the Falcons' 45, Johnson took a direct snap out of the shotgun. He gained 4 yards on the play to pick up the first down.

Ryan ties passing mark

Ryan tied his career high with his 22nd touchdown pass of the season in the first quarter. He also threw 22 touchdown passes last season.

Ryan has thrown at least one touchdown in 12 consecutive games.

Since 2008, Ryan’s 60 touchdowns rank fifth in the NFC.


Tony Gonzalez's 4-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter was the 87th of his career, which tied him with Andre Reed for 11th in NFL history. Don Maynard is 10th with 88. Isaac Bruce is ninth with 91 receiving touchdowns. ... Abraham's second sack in the second quarter gave him 100.5 for his career; he became the 25th player in league history with more than 100 sacks. ... Kicker Matt Bryant's 39-yard field goal in the second quarter was his 13th straight of the season. ... Ryan went over 3,000 yards passing in the second quarter on a 12-yard completion to Michael Turner. ... The Falcons are the first NFC team with a 3,000-yard passer (Ryan), 1,000-yard rusher (Turner) and 1,000-yard receiver (White) this season. The Houston Texans (Matt Schaub, Arian Foster, Andre Johnson) are the only other team to accomplish that feat in 2010. ... Since 2008, Turner has 38 rushing touchdowns and ranks second in the NFL behind Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson (39 TDs).

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