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Atlanta Falcons Team Report


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Atlanta Falcons Team Report

The bye week could not have come at a better time for the Falcons.

While they are the league's only undefeated team and are 6-0 to start the season for the first time in franchise history, they have some glaring issues — and they know it.

After letting middle linebacker and tackling machine Curtis Lofton leave in free agency, the Falcons have a leaky run defense. Also, with the shift to an all-out passing attack, they no longer can run the ball effectively.

The Raiders entered Sunday's game as the league's worst rushing team, but they gashed the Falcons for 149 yards on the ground and would have been over 200 yards if a couple of runs were not nullified by penalties.

The Falcons could muster only 45 yards rushing, and 15 of those came on a scramble by quarterback Matt Ryan.

"We're looking at something beyond just winning right now," running back Michael Turner said. "We're trying to be special, and special teams don't play like that."

The Falcons are clearly a pass-first team now, but they know they'll need to run the ball at some point in the season.

Turner had 11 rushes for 33 yards against the Raiders, and he has just one 100-yard game this season.

"I'm not sure why it's going like this," Turner said. "It's great to be 6-0 and everything, but we can't just assume we're always going to be able to get an interception or a last-minute field goal every time. At some point, we're going to have to run the ball. We've got to be able to knock it in (the end zone)."


—With the Falcons' 23-20 victory over the Raiders on Sunday, Atlanta coach Mike Smith tied Dan Reeves for the most wins in franchise history (49).

Smith, who has guided to the Falcons to four consecutive winning seasons and the playoffs in three of the past four seasons, tried to deflect any attention about the milestone.

"No, it's not my victory," Smith said. "It's the Atlanta Falcons' victory. There are lots of guys and lots of people in that locker room that aren't here that have contributed to wins. It's all about the Atlanta Falcons. My focus is on one thing, and that's to try and make our football team the best that we can be."

Reeves posted a 49-59-1 record and took the franchise to its only Super Bowl


Since being named the Falcons' head coach in 2008, Smith has climbed the franchise's coaching chart quickly, amassing a 49-21 record.

The players were not able to recognize the accomplishment.

"Smitty slipped out of here before we had an opportunity," safety William Moore said. "He broke the team down and got out of here, but we'll get him when we get back."

—On the final drive against the Raiders, the Falcons wanted to throw some deep passes, but the Raiders had wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones double-covered with safeties.

"We wanted to get a chunk, and they were not allowing us to do it," Smith said. "The coverage told us to check it down. We did a nice job of checking it down. We had two timeouts, so we felt like we have a chance to use the entire field at some point in time, and we were able to do that two times. The crucial completion was the one to Tony Gonzalez to set the 55-yard field goal."

—Smith was elated to see Asante Samuel streaking up the sideline with his first interception as an Falcon. However, he was not too happy with all of the celebrating.

"That's what he's known for, intercepting the ball," Smith said. "He's a ball hawk, and he's an athletic guy that can return it. He's got great skills once the ball is in his hands. He understands how to jump routes and play the coverages. When he gets it in his hands, he can do a lot of things."

Samuel read the drop of Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer.

"It was a three-step drop," Samuel said. "(William Moore) gave me the wrong coverage, so I just said ... I'm just going to do my thing. I read the three-step drop, and he threw the little out on me, and I picked it off and went to the house."

Samuel made a nice cutback move on Palmer at the 22-yard line.

"I got kind of scared," Samuel said. "I thought he was going to catch me, but he didn't get me. Shout out to my blockers who helped me get in the end zone. ... I was out of gas."

—The offensive line gave up just one sack but did allow nine quarterback hits.

The protection was solid on most throws but was a factor in Ryan's third interception when a linebacker — ex-Georgia Tech standout Philip Wheeler — was not picked up by a back.

—The Falcons' inability to run the ball in short-yardage situation was exposed when Atlanta couldn't run it in from the 2-yard line against the Raiders.

After an incomplete pass, Michael Turner picked up a yard and Jason Snelling was dropped for 1 yard loss.



—CB Asante Samuel picked a perfect time to get his first interception with the Falcons. He returned it 79 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to give Atlanta a 20-13 lead.

—WLB Sean Weatherspoon and CB Dunta Robinson tied for the team lead with nine tackles.

—LB Stephen Nicholas, who was coming off an ankle injury, played only on special teams.

—LB Mike Peterson played in the base defense for Stephen Nicholas and made one tackle.

—MLB Akeem Dent took over for Stephen Nicholas in the nickel defense and finished with eight tackles.


—RB Antone Smith (hamstring) did not play against the Raiders. He should aided by the bye week.

—TE Michael Palmer suffered a shoulder injury against the Chargers, and he has not played in the past three games. The Falcons are hoping that he can return for the next game against the Eagles on Oct. 28.

—FB Lousaka Polite returned to action from a hamstring injury.

—LB Stephen Nicholas (ankle) was active but only played on special teams against the Raiders.


PASSING OFFENSE: C-plus — Matt Ryan had his worst game of the season. He completed 24 of 37 passes for 249 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. His passer rating of 59.4 was his lowest since he posted a 50.6 mark in a 17-10 loss at Houston on Dec. 4, 2011. However, he completed five of six passes in the game-winning drive. Julio Jones (15.8 yards per catch), Roddy White (12.0) and Tony Gonzalez (10.5) averaged more than 10 yards per catch. White's 4-yard touchdown catch was his fourth of the season and 49th of his career. He currently ranks third on the club's all-time receiving touchdowns list behind Terance Mathis (57) and Andre Rison (56).

RUSHING OFFENSE: F — The Falcons have their power rushing game in moth balls somewhere. They had 15 rushes for 45 yards, and Ryan had the longest gain, 15 yards.

PASS DEFENSE: C — DE John Abraham and DT Jonathan Babineaux had strong games. Abraham had five tackles, three sacks, two quarterback hits and a forced fumble. "John Abraham had a monster game," coach Mike Smith said. Babineaux had five tackles, three tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Asante Samuel had a pick-six against Carson Palmer, but the defense gave up 353 passing yards.

RUSH DEFENSE: F — The Raiders, who entered the game last in the league in rushing, ran for 149 yards and averaged 4.7 yards per carry. Oakland also had two long runs by Darren McFadden nullified by penalties. The Falcons are not stout against the run, and that eventually could cost them a game. It is clear that letting Curtis Lofton go in free agency has hurt the run defense.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A — Matt Bryant's 55-yard field goal was his second game-winner this season. The kick was the second longest of his career and his longest as a Falcon. It was his 14th game-winning kick. Since joining the Falcons in 2009, Bryant has connected on 21 of 28 field-goal attempts from 40 yards or deeper, including all five of his game-winners. Matt Bosher had excellent hang time on his punts and averaged 52.8 yards on four attempts.

COACHING: C-minus — The Falcons managed to get a win while playing some sub-standard football. The tackling was shoddy, Ryan tossed three interceptions, and the rushing attack remained missing. With all of that, the Falcons still found a way to become the league's only undefeated team. If you discount pure luck, then coaching has to be factor.

Edited by Guvmintcheeze
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Akeem Dent is garbage.

I also think Nolan will be able to scheme things a hair different when Peters comes back and we hve an ox in the middle who can hold the point better.

Abe has been awesome, but I do worry about him holding up with playing more snaps this season than in recent years.

I would love to see A. Smith actually in the running game when he is healthy, but I doubt it will happen. Getting him in the screen game could do great things to supplement the lack of running game. The team needs to do something, because right now they are playing the pass only and pinning their ears back going after MR2.

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I love how its always stated, :" if it werent for the penalties, the could have had over 200 yards".. Well if it was not for the holding penalties, the defender may have stopped them for negative yardage, or forced a fumble...or . if . Thats the point of calling the penalty..

as my old high school coach always said, If an if were a 5th, we'd all be drunk!

Goes back to the Broncos game when the analyst said that if the Broncos would have had 5 more minute, they would have won the game......

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The Falcons will be better after the bye in all three phases. The new cooordinators now have a feel for what they are working with and film of 6wks to look at and critique their schemes a little to make our team better. This team did a lot of good things in the first three weeks to work from and some good and bad things the last three works to work from. Nolan said it best when he said that he still would not know what he had on defense until about five to six weeks into th season because they held a lot of stuff back in the preseason. Now that we are six weeks in I believe he has a feel for everyone now more on a personal level and him and Smitty will tweak everything out accordingly. I exspect the same thing from keotter.

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