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Falcons Team Report


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Falcons Team Report

Yahoo! Sports - Oct 2, 2:30 am EDT

Inside Slant

Notes, Quotes

Strategy and Personnel

When he's backed into a corner and needs to make something happen, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan turns to wide receiver Roddy White.

In his latest fourth-quarter comeback, Ryan launched a 59-yard bomb to White to get the Falcons off the 1-yard line and into field-goal range. Two plays later, Matt Bryant trotted out onto the field and made a 40-yard field goal for a breathless 30-28 victory over Carolina on Sunday to improve to 4-0 for just the third time in franchise history and the first time since 2004. The franchise has never opened the season at 5-0.

It was remarkable that Ryan had time to throw long. Carolina's pass rush had been relentless, sacking Ryan a career-high seven times and accumulating 12 quarterback hits.

"He came into the huddle and said, 'Block it up so that we can make a big play,'" White said. "Those guys are focused. They did a **** of a job."

White, who had eight catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns, used some crafty route-running to get open.

"They were trying to keep everything in front of them, but the guy kind of missed a jam when I went out there," White said. "I got behind those guys."

White also sensed that Ryan was coming his way.

"He told me to go get it," White said. "So I knew he was throwing it to me."

The Falcons were elated to pull out another close game with Ryan at the helm.

"It was a good lesson to learn," White said. "A lot of these games are going to be close. When you get an opportunity to move on as team, you do it and you carry a lot of confidence with you."

With the win, the Falcons opened a four game lead over the defending NFC South champion New Orleans Saints (0-4), and hold a three game leader over Tampa Bay (1-3) and Carolina (1-3).

Notes, Quotes

Cornerback Christopher Owens has been cleared from the league's concussion protocol program and will return to practice on Wednesday, head coach Mike Smith said on Monday.

Owens suffered a concussion in the Denver game on Sept. 17. He's missed the games against San Diego and Carolina.

Against San Diego, Dominique Franks took over at nickel back, but Robert McClain played the position against Carolina.

"We let those guys compete over the last couple of weeks and we felt like Robert had a really good week of practice," Smith said. "We felt like we wanted to get him an opportunity to play in the nickel. I thought that he handled it for the first time fairly well."

McClain played 35 of 64 defensive snaps (55 percent) against the Panthers and finished with three tackles.

Owens will have to win his spot back from McClain.

"So we'll have some competition going on at the nickel back position as we prepare for the game this week," Smith said.

Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux was proud of his linemate John Abraham, who registered his 115th sack and came up with a key forced fumble.

Abraham's forced fumble on Cam Newton knocked the ball back one yard and ended up getting the ball back for the offense.

"That's what our defense is made of," Babineaux said. "We have to stop the offense no matter what part of the game it is. That's our job. We stepped up today on the third-and-1 and made them punt the ball."

Carolina scored first and the Falcons found themselves behind for the first time this season.

"I think we came out too relaxed," Babineaux said. "As the game went on, we stepped up and did our responsibilities and tried to make it a game. It was a division opponent. We knew they were going to come in and give us a great challenge."

Tight end Tony Gonzalez had a big play, hauling in a 7-yard gain on the play following White's 59-yard gain. With no timeouts, it was vital that he get out of bounds to stop the clock.

"I've been around a long time," Gonzalez said. "I knew what had to be done. We had no timeouts left. You have to make a play and make a break for the sidelines."

The Falcons posted two scoring drives that took less than four plays, including a pair of long touchdown passes from quarterback Matt Ryan.

This season, the Falcons have unveiled a potent quick-strike offense, scoring 35 points on five scoring drives of four plays or less.

Strategy & Personnel

Player Notes

LB Sean Weatherspoon had a sack against Carolina QB Cam Newton. Weatherspoon has sacked Newton in two consecutive games and has posted seven sacks in his three-year career.

RB Michael Turner had his first 100-yard rushing game of the season and amassed 171 total yards against Carolina, including his first career touchdown reception on a 60-yard score.

Injury Impact

CB Christopher Owens has been dismissed from the concussion protocol program and is set to return to practice on Wednesday.

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

WR Julio Jones suffered a hand injury on the first play of the game, but returned to action. He appeared to be slowed by the injury against the Panthers.

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

FB Lousaka Polite suffered a hamstring injury against the Chargers and did not play against the Panthers.

Report Card Vs

. PANTHERS

Passing Offense:

A—Matt Ryan completed 25 of 40 passes for 369 yards and three touchdowns. He finished with a passer rating of 107.2 and the Falcons improved to 27-0 when he has a passer rating of more than 100. Roddy White put on a pass-catching clinic, as he caught eight passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns. His big 59-yarder over Haruki Nakamura to kick-start the final drive was key. Gonzalez (five for 51) was solid as Julio Jones was used primarily as a decoy as his hand heals.

Rushing Offense:

B-minus—Michael Turner powered his way to 103 yards on just 13 carries. He had some vintage Turner power runs and Jacquizz Rodgers chipped in with six rushes for 18 yards. Turner had his first career touchdown reception as he accounted for 171 total yards.

Pass Defense:

C-plus—The defensive line did not adequately put Carolina's Cam Newton under duress. They had three sacks and just three quarterback hits. They'll have to ramp up the pass rush in the coming weeks. Safeties Thomas DeCoud and William Moore had their toughest games of the season. Abraham saved Asante Samuel from getting into s scuffle with Steve Smith, when he just picked Samuel up and carried him away. Smith was held to three catches for 52 yards. Also, Robert McClain made his debut as the nickel back, replacing Dominique Franks.

Rush Deense:

B—They were stout against Carolina's zone-read dives as defensive end John Abraham had five tackles and tackle Jonathan Babineaux had three. Ray Edwards recovered a fumble and had three tackles. The linebackers did most of the heavy lifting against the run. Stephen Nicholas led the team with eight tackles. Akeem Dent and Sean Weatherspoon both had four tackles. Both Nicholas and Weatherspoon had some nice open-field tackles on Cam Newton.

Special Teams:

A—Matt Bryant's game-winner was his ninth kick in a row. Franks nearly broke another punt return for a touchdown, but was tripped up by Jason Phillips after an 18-yard return. Matt Bosher averaged 42.4 yards on five punts and placed two inside the Panthers' 20-yard line.

Coaching:

B—The Falcons were running the ball down the Panthers' throat on their second drive of the game, but started to pass inside the red zone and ended up tossing an interception. The call to get the field goal to cut it to 28-27 was an astute move. It paid off with the later field goal for the win. Smith's sideline decorum was lacking on the last play of the game, when he went into a tirade and bumped into defensive line coach Ray Hamilton when they only had 10 men on the field.

http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/teams/atl/report

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Lol wut. Run D a B and Run O a B-?

Pass O: B+, connected on deep ball and screens but still had drops, not to mention got sacked a bunch.

Run O: A-, best of the season by far, gave us a whole other dimension.

Pass D: B, kept Cam very well in check.

Run D: C, still sucks but had a couple big stops.

Special Teams: B+, Bryant and kickoffs ruled but Franks had a couple serious miscues, like at the end of the game.

Coaching: C, Bad all around, luckily we pulled it out so I upped it from a C-.

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Yeah, I thought that our rushing deserved a solid B - I don't think that a B- was giving us props where props is due.

I'm hoping that we get better on our protection(s) for this Sunday. Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are solid linebackers and could really do some damage.

If I'm not mistaken those two are out for the season. Redskins defense is horrible.

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Lol wut. Run D a B and Run O a B-?

Pass O: B+, connected on deep ball and screens but still had drops, not to mention got sacked a bunch.

Run O: A-, best of the season by far, gave us a whole other dimension.

Pass D: B, kept Cam very well in check.

Run D: C, still sucks but had a couple big stops.

Special Teams: B+, Bryant and kickoffs ruled but Franks had a couple serious miscues, like at the end of the game.

Coaching: C, Bad all around, luckily we pulled it out so I upped it from a C-.

A little harsh on coaching. Smith had the presence of mind to call a phantom timeout to get 11 on the field. We won our challenge to overturn Steve Smith's catch. They kicked the FG when most others thought that was signing our death certificate.

I'd give it a B for coaching.

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Lol wut. Run D a B and Run O a B-?

Pass O: B+, connected on deep ball and screens but still had drops, not to mention got sacked a bunch.

Run O: A-, best of the season by far, gave us a whole other dimension.

Pass D: B, kept Cam very well in check.

Run D: C, still sucks but had a couple big stops.

Special Teams: B+, Bryant and kickoffs ruled but Franks had a couple serious miscues, like at the end of the game.

Coaching: C, Bad all around, luckily we pulled it out so I upped it from a C-.

I like your grades a LOT better. I couldn't believe their grades for our pass D and run D... seemed backward.

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Franks did not do anything wrong on the last punt. You stand at the ten yard line and if the punt goes over your head you let it go. If the ball goes on the end zone you wouldn't say he did anything wrong. It's an unlucky bounce of the ball.

Hmm. I thought he was around the fifteen or twenty and let it go over his head.

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