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Falcons Team Report


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Falcons Team Report

Yahoo! Sports - 5 hours, 2 minutes ago

Inside Slant

Notes, Quotes

Strategy and Personnel

The Falcons opened the game against the Chargers with a 10-play, 80-yard drive. They didn't bother running the ball but two times for five yards.

Later, in a 17-play, 96-yard drive, the Falcons elected to travel by air again. There were only three runs called and picked up 7 yards.

While the passing attack under new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has flourished, the Falcons have struggled to run the ball early.

In wins over Kansas City and Denver, running back Michael Turner had rushed for just 74 yards on 28 carries.

But with the Falcons trying to salt away the Chargers game, they may have found their rushing attack.

Turner finally got rolling in the second half of the 27-3 victory. He had a couple of big runs, including a 25-yarder, as the Falcons protected their lead. He finished with 80 yards on 14 carries.

Turner capped the scoring with a 7-yard touchdown run.

"We knew coming into the game that we had to keep scoring when we had the ball because you didn't know when they were going to start letting loose," Turner said. "(Antonio) Gates, Malcolm Floyd and everybody else, they have some weapons on offense. They can come back with ease. We just wanted to keep pushing them and keep putting the pressure on them."

Turner was elated that the running game did finally account for some positive yards.

"We want to be an elite team and we want to get the offense rolling," Turner said. "We can't put all of the pressure on Matt (Ryan). We have to give him some help."

Notes, Quotes

Tight end Tony Gonzalez didn't do a goal-post dunk following his second-quarter touchdown catch against the Chargers, choosing instead to celebrate with a fade-away jump shot over the crossbar.

"That was after a (17)-play drive and I wasn't going to do the Vernon Davis thing and get stuck up there," said Gonzalez, referring to the 49ers tight end who was rejected by the crossbar in a botched dunk attempt two weeks ago against Green Bay.

It was Gonzalez's 98th career touchdown catch.

Like Tony Gonzalez needed any extra motivation, but he received it in the form of the Gameday program previewing the Falcons and Chargers game in San Diego.

"I see the cover and it says, 'Antonio Gates is the standard by which all tight ends are measured,'" said Gonzalez. "That gets me going a little bit and makes me want to go out there and play the best I can."

Gonzalez and Gates don't meet face-to-face as often as they did when Gonzalez was playing in the AFC West for Kansas City, but the competition remains spirited between two of the best players ever to play the position.

"We're a whole lot different as to how we influence the game," said Gates. "I'm more of a down the field guy, red zone. Tony's liable to have 15 catches for 70 yards. He's always catching the ball."

Gonzalez caught a game-high nine passes for 91 yards and one touchdown. Gates managed three receptions for 22 yards.

Strategy and Personnel

Player Notes

-FS Thomas DeCoud notched two interceptions and one fumble recovery in Sunday's win at San Diego.

DE John Abraham sacked San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers on the final play of the first half, giving him 114.0 career sacks and sole possession of 15th place on the NFL's all-time sacks list. He is the league's active sack leader and his 60.5 sacks as a Falcon rank second in team history behind Claude Humphries, who posted 94.5 sacks between 1968-78.

RB Michael Turner's 7-yard touchdown run was his 52nd as a Falcon, which is a franchise record.

WR Julio Jones had five catches for 67 yards and one touchdown.

WR Roddy White had five catches for 55 yards.

QB Matt Ryan completed 75 percent (30 of 40) of his pass attempts against the Chargers.

Injury Impact

CB Christopher Owens is going through the concussion protocol and did not play against the Chargers.

RB Antone Smith (hamstring) didn't play against the Chargers. He's close to returning to practice.

WR Julio Jones suffered a hand injury on the first play of the game, but returned to the action.

TE Michael Palmer suffered a shoulder injury and did not return against the Chargers.

Report Card Vs


Passing Offense:

A—Matt Ryan directed touchdown drives of 10 and 17 plays. Ryan completed 75 percent of his passes. He moved the action around to eight different receivers, but saw his franchise-record streak of 272 pass attempts without throwing an interception snapped. Luke McCown made his Atlanta debut. Running back Jacquizz Rodgers had a nice blitz pickup on Julio Jones' touchdown grab.

Rushing Offense:

B-—Michael Turner finished strong and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. Jacquizz Rodgers averaged 3.2 yards per carry. "He ran the ball very well," Falcons coach Mike Smith said of Turner. "His shoulders were downfield and he was more aggressive as he attacked the line of scrimmage."

Rush Deense:

B—Akeem Dent (three), Stephen Nicholas (six) and Sean Weatherspoon (five) combined for 14 tackles. Weatherspoon forced a fumble that helped to get the blowout started. They held San Diego running back Ryan Mathews to 44 yards rushing on 10 carries.

Pass Defense:

A—Defensive end John Abraham had the only sack, but the unit was buzzing around San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers for most of the game. Thomas DeCoud put on a coverage clinic on San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates. He finished with two interceptions, three passes defense and had one fumble recovery. He's playing at a Pro Bowl level.

Special Teams:

B-minus—Dominique Franks provided two good drive starts with punt returns of 12 and 22 yards. Josh Harris had a bad snap on an extra point attempt. Matt Bosher averaged 44.6 yards on five punts and placed two down inside the Chargers' 20-yard line.


A—New coordinator Dirk Koetter (offense) and Mike Nolan (defense) are the early MVP candidates for the team. Both units are blending together well, while they still have strides to make. The running game showed signs of life for the first time this season and the run defense stiffened against the Chargers. Smith has compiled a 46-21 record in four-plus seasons as Falcons head coach. Sunday's win against the Chargers tied him with Leeman Bennett who posted a 46-41 record between 1977 and 1982. Smith trails only Dan Reeves who went 49-59-1 from 1997-03.


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The more we pass the easier it will be to run...

A thing that is not noticed by the board is how **** good Turner is in pass protection, when he clips a rusher out of the backfield that guy isn't doing anything that play...

He helps Matt in that way a lot.

Boom! Just ask Ray Lewis!

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The more we pass the easier it will be to run...

A thing that is not noticed by the board is how **** good Turner is in pass protection, when he clips a rusher out of the backfield that guy isn't doing anything that play...

He helps Matt in that way a lot.

Very true. I liked that play when Turner knocked out Ray Lewis last year. But we aren't paying Turner big money to pass block.

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