FALCONS: 5 things we learned from the Carolina win

Falcons Cheerleaders sported Throwback cheer outfits for the Carolina game. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC).

SPIRIT FINGERS!!!: Falcons Cheerleaders sported Throwback outfits for the Carolina game. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC).

SEATTLE OF THE SOUTH - We’re closing in on the record for consecutive days of rain. Five down, 35 to go. Who’s out there getting the Ark ready?

The Falcons post-game locker room was bizarre. I have to attend coach Mike Smith’s interview, but one longtime and legendary national reporter asked me why so many players leave so quickly after the game.

For the guys who were left, all of the talk was about how poorly they played.

No doubt, coach Mike Smith came into the room and likely lit into the team for some downright shiftlessness! The

Falcons cheerleaders were ready for the Throwback game. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC).

Falcons cheerleaders did some high-stepping for the Throwback game. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC).

penalties by Harvey Dahl, Justin Blalock and the offsides by tight end Tony Gonzalez could not have made him happy. There was Michael Turner’s fumble inside the red zone.  There was a weak arm tackle attempt by Chris Houston.

“I felt that we battled through a number of things the entire football game,” Smith said. “We had some miscues. We had some good plays.”

But in the end, he didn’t seem too happy with the victory. Guess he knows that in order to beat the very good teams in the league, you can’t make so many minor mistakes.

“We’ve got a lot of things that we can improve on,” Smith said.

Here are five things we learned from the victory:

  1. BLITZ BONUS: The Falcons have been working on being more aggressive. Their blitzes are starting to get to the quarterback. Linebacker Stephen Nicholas got his first sack of the season and third of his career. Safety Thomas DeCoud and Nicholas also had quarterback hurries.
  2. SNELLING’S A WEAPON: When Jerious Norwood left the game with a “Head” injury  — Don’t know why they don’t like saying “Concussion” – Jason Snelling came in and ran the ball hard. Every time he’s gotten a chance to play, he’s been up to the task. Because of his strong play, the Falcons won’t have to rush Norwood, who was running pretty hard himself, back into the action.
  3. ELAM’S FINE: Jason Elam, the legendary kicker was listed on the injury report with a hamstring and was coming of a rare bad game where he missed two field goal attempts and an extra point. He didn’t have any field goal attempts, but was striking the ball well on his extra points, where he was four of four.
  4. The 60s/70s era Go-Go Boots were a hit. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

    The 60s/70s era Go-Go Boots were a hit. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

    GONZALEZ IS GREAT: His best catch on Sunday was the one with the linebacker draped all over him. Followed closely be the one that was challenged and ruled a reception at the 10-yard line. He’s a force in the redzone. He got Jason Snelling open for his touchdown when he took two defenders with him into the end zone.

    5. POWER BALL: The Falcons couldn’t run the clock out with just 2:37 left after Chris Houston’s big interception. They want to have a running identity. That’s when you need to grind out 10 yards to secure the victory. If the offense powers the ball at the Panthers, then they would not have needed to sweat out the Hail Mary pass.

  5. NEXT UP:  Atlanta (2-0) vs. New England (1-1). Will the Falcons be favored? They Patriots have looked shaky in Tom Brady’s return.  If Buffalo’s Leodis McKelvin (of Waycross and Troy State) had taken a knee in the endzone in Week One, the Pats would be 0-2.

HERE’S MY FANTASY TEAM: Don’t have time to draft, so got into one of those auto-draft, public leagues on a website. Here’s my team. The Auto-drafter GM did pretty good. Haven’t check, but with Brees, I think I won this week.


QB Drew Brees, New Orleans

WR Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona

WR Mark Clayton, Baltimore

WR Percy Harvin, Minnesota

RB Thomas Jones, New York Jets

RB Joseph Addai, Indianapolis

TE Kevin Boss, New York Giants

K Stephen Gostkowski, New England

DEF Baltimore


WR Anthony Gonzalez, Indianapolis (have to cut him, he’s hurt)

WR Braylon Edwards Cleveland

TR Vernon Davis, San Francisco

QB Brady Quinn, Cleveland

RB Willie Parker, Pittsburgh

PK Josh Brown, St. Louis

114 comments Add your comment


September 21st, 2009
9:29 am


September 21st, 2009
9:29 am

Season ticket holder

September 21st, 2009
9:30 am

The other thing we learned this week: If Arthur Blank wants an open air stadium, then he better be out of his box and getting wet like the rest of us when it rains. I love the DOME!

An Observation

September 21st, 2009
9:37 am

Great Blog!!! The cheerleader pics are a nice added bonus. I’m excited about the Falcons chances against the Patriots next week. We all know now that the NE Pats can be beaten and beaten at home (I agree that Buffalo should have won that first game).

GO FALCONS!!!! BTW…like the five lessons learned summary format following each game.

The Claw

September 21st, 2009
9:43 am

You left out one very important thing we learned: prevent defenses don’t prevent anything, except maybe a victory. Brady will pick that thing apart this week. I thought the point was to make them throw it underneath and hopefully in the middle of the field so the clock will wind down. Giving up 10-15 yard sideline patterns is a receipe for disaster. Yes?

ant banks

September 21st, 2009
9:44 am

the last play of the game would have changed the whole “5 things that we learned…” when you are tryin’ to defend a HAIL MARY do not bat the ball up so that the offensive team can get it!!!


September 21st, 2009
10:06 am

I learned that history repeats itself. Grimes CANNOT hack it and needs to go away. And probably take Houston with him.

Blue Fender

September 21st, 2009
10:13 am

You are correct, ant banks. Why did Grimes bat the ball back in the field of play? Finneran looked like he was going to intercept the ball. Although I was impressed by Grimes leaping ability (he out jumped Finneran, who is 8″ taller), he needs a lesson on defending the hail mary.

Good win. GO FALCONS!


September 21st, 2009
10:14 am

I think we learned that Decoud and Nicholas are not the weak links on the defense, as has been thought(by me).


September 21st, 2009
10:41 am

We need to officially change our everyday uniforms to the one’s we wore on Sunday. They were bad a$$.

DP in NC

September 21st, 2009
10:55 am

Oh yeah…the Ark’s almost ready.

D Money

September 21st, 2009
10:57 am

Hopefully Peria Jerry will be okay and not have to miss much time. We really need to stay healthy on the defensive side of the ball. Maybe Trey Lewis will be able to step up and I’m expecting to see Tye Hill get in on some plays. We’ll be lucky if Wes Welker is out next week too.


September 21st, 2009
11:11 am

Unless the D can figure out how to get alot more pressure than they did this week, Brady will get 500 yards passing. When is Ryan going to get a chance to show off that new arm strength? I keep waiting for a completed bomb, nyet. Are receivers not getting open deep or is he just being careful?


September 21st, 2009
11:27 am

Houston needs to be Benched.
He is Horrible..
Not only did he get burned constantly..but why didn’t he knock the ball down when it was 4th down..Pad his Stats? And who taught him how to tackle?
We can’t draft a corner soon enough..


September 21st, 2009
11:28 am

Mr. Ledbetter

Why Parker in reserve over McGahee, or some other full time back?


September 21st, 2009
11:29 am

Enter your comments here
Smitty should not only be unhappy with Houston over his arm tackle, but his overall play. Steve Smith was open any time he lined up against Houston. And the interception to the end should have been batted down, not caught. It was fourth down! Think!

Someone please explain to me

September 21st, 2009
11:29 am

Why at every home game I go to people walk around the concession area when the national anthem is playing. I know the hear it playing. How freaking disrespectful people are… Take your damn hat off and stand still for a minute and a half. SICK OF IT

I know that’s off topic but it needs to be said.

Falcons 2-0 baby!


September 21st, 2009
11:34 am

Am I the only one that thinks that this team is just a couple of correctable mistakes away from being something special?

Someone please explain to me

September 21st, 2009
11:34 am


September 21st, 2009
11:36 am

Matt Ryan looked horrible. Do you all miss Vick now?


September 21st, 2009
11:37 am

The quality of officiating was just abysmal. They made bad calls all around so it was fair anyway but for 4 red flags to be thrown and those calls overturned… also the rule that had just been explained the week before on the Louis Murphy TD they blew that judgement call they also had two officials in place to judge a Steve Smith catch that he only got one foot down on… then they call people back to the field to check the clock AGAIN after the game was over. Numerous numerous mistakes… just an awful game for the striped men no matter whom you pulled for.

As for the Falcons… man it is great to see a team that is not doomed by some bad football early or some mistakes. They play hard. Peterson and Williams have been huge acquisitions already. Ryan was SHARP even though he’s still got some work to do on placement and that bad pick early… He is fantastic. Turner still made 100 yards and a TD even though they played great run defense. This team has options and answers and it is really fun to be a Falcons fan right now.

Free Mike Vick

September 21st, 2009
11:38 am

Matt Ryan looked horrible. Do you all miss Vick now? You should!


September 21st, 2009
11:39 am

Wasn’t it Peele who had the offsides? Just woudln’t want TonyG getting blame for any mistakes, when he seems to never make one.


September 21st, 2009
11:39 am

Horrible spots all day too.


September 21st, 2009
11:43 am

We do not know how to handle winners in this town. We had no defense coming into this season and we now have a defense. We have one of the best QBs, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends in the business. Had a bad day for us Sunday and won the game.

Stating the obvious

September 21st, 2009
11:45 am

We need to draft defense, defense, defense for the next couple of years. Not that they didn’t play ok but our offense seems pretty set for a while.


September 21st, 2009
11:51 am

Yes, I agree that the string of airhead penalties will make for a New England defeat. I did remember no turnovers and just a few penalties against the Dolphins….that type of game we could beat the Pats. We shall see. GO FALCONS. Will be interesting to see how they do away from the dome.

"Mr. Falcon"

September 21st, 2009
11:52 am

6. Jamal Anderson is a bust. He is intellectually challenged, lazy, slow physically, and untalented.

Osama Bin Laden

September 21st, 2009
11:54 am

Why you american complain about being at concession stand during national anthem? They should replace it with some sort of Chevron or Exxon jingle.


September 21st, 2009
12:15 pm

Anyone else see the highligts of Andre’ Johnson running wide open all day long against the Titans? Roddy White needs to watch to see how a PREMIER WR gets open. He demanded #1 money, yet the WRs he compared his contract to have much more speed and ability to seperate from the DB.

True Falcon Fan

September 21st, 2009
12:19 pm

Why in the hell would you post your fantasy team (that has NO Falcons on it) in the same blog about the 5 things we learned from the Panthers game?

F-105 Thunderchief

September 21st, 2009
12:19 pm

On topic, it’s surprising to hear of so much gloom-and-doom in a winning lockerroom. While it’s true, they let Carolina fly down the field at times, they did do enough good things to win. Hope they’re hungry to get better and win, win, win.

Panthers Fan

September 21st, 2009
12:19 pm

Ryan looked horrible. What a wasted draft pick.


September 21st, 2009
12:22 pm

I’m a Falcon fan out in Texas. Can’t wait for the boys to get here and whip the Cowboys in this new Palace. Roll on Falcons!!

angry banker

September 21st, 2009
12:24 pm

Mr. Falcon – I was hoping this was going to be he season J Anderson broke out… looks like Bierman’s break out season! Not to mention C Davis is STILL a better DE. I think its time to cut bait, especially considering the high expectations we have for sidberry.

JG – I hate to continue bashing my D, but yeah, Houston looked bad, highlighted by the non-tackle for the touchdown. hes probably our fastest CB, but the worst in coverage and the worst in tackling. All I could think was “Chevis Jackson or Chris Owens would’ve made that tackle”. I wonder why we dont put ol Chevis Jackson in a CB on the goal line? Hes out tallest and most physical CB.

did anyone notice our prevent defense featured Curtis Lofton as the deep back? I wonder why. is that normal? Why not put in another Safety if you’re going to play him 30/40 years back from the line of scrimmage? I noticed they put in Finneran on Defense a few times – made some good plays. Love that guy.

Rodson Leftwich

September 21st, 2009
12:24 pm

I predicting a 6-10 record if the defense keeps this up. No pressure on the QB. He had ALL day back there. This is NOT a championship defense. Period. Poor pass rush and poor DB’s is not a recipe for success.

10 Things at the Dome yesterday

September 21st, 2009
12:25 pm


1. Jamaal Anderson
2. Fans who walk and talk and ignore the national anthem (you know who you are).
3. Fans in section 123 who sat on their hands the entire 2nd half.
4. Officiating
5. The fact that we couldn’t get that needed first down on our last possession.
6. The fact that Carolina actually could have tied the game up with time running out.
7. The Carolina Panthers (goes without saying).
8. The weird old dude in our row that kept making the “Ehhhhhhhhhhh” sound like he was Little John or something. I wanted to shoot myself.
9. The other Old dude in my row that tried to steal my flags that were under my seat when I went to the bathroom.
10. The Prevent D we slid into on the last Carolina drive.


September 21st, 2009
12:29 pm

Mr. Falcon, I agree, lets get rid of Jamal Anderson. They’ll do better by letting me stand there to distract the defensive line.


September 21st, 2009
12:39 pm

On the topic of that hail mary pass: Has Brent Grimes landed yet? The dude out-jumped Finneran!


September 21st, 2009
12:47 pm



It is painfully obvious that our DBs are the weak links on this team!!!!!

Szűrös Csíkszentmihályi

September 21st, 2009
12:48 pm

What is the status of Peria Jerry’s injury?


September 21st, 2009
12:53 pm

I have heard of Jerry being a girl, but I didnt know she played for the Falcons. I hope she doesnt beak a nail next…

Big Mac

September 21st, 2009
1:08 pm

I STILL Am NOT Happy With The So Called “Play Safe” Second- Half Of Falcons Football!!
Some Refer To This As “Ball-Control” When Trying To Protect A Lead! It ALMOST Exploded
In Their Collective Faces!! We Scored At Will In The 1st Half..Why Not Continue The Same
In The 2nd Half??..Lets See How Many Points We Can Put Up!! Lets Play “Smash-Mouth”
Football !! “Matty Ice” Was Just Getting His “Groove” And We Take The Ball Out Of His Hands..
We Have YET To Throw The Ball DOWN-FIELD..40 Yards Or More..Whats Up With That??


September 21st, 2009
1:16 pm

We learned what we always knew. BVG is garbage and needs an imagination. The best defensive teams keep offensive lines thinking and on there toes. I am so tired of seeing our linebackers lining up 6 yeas off the line of scrimmage and rushing 4 lineman. This guy has to be more intelligent than he’s letting on. Just prove it to us already!


September 21st, 2009
1:20 pm

as of right now the vegas line for next week is new england +4.5 , remember in years past the coach would be excited with a win, I’m happy to see smitty not just happy with the win but demand more, but I trust the top brass. what’s amazing is that ryan could’ve thrown to tony all day and with sucess about everyplay, we just gotta get that killer instinct, go birds.

DJ Sniper

September 21st, 2009
1:21 pm

Can somebody explain to me why Jamaal Anderson is still starting? According to the stat sheet at nfl.com, he has not made one single tackle in the first two games. I was really hoping that he would finally put things together and come out like gangbusters this season, but so far, nothing. I say let the Beer Man move into the starting spot and open up more playing time for Chauncy Davis and Lawrence Sidbury. #98 is just taking up space.


September 21st, 2009
1:30 pm

5 things I learned.

1) Red helmets with black jerseys looks better in pics than it actually looks on the field.
2) Julius Pepper looks old, fat, and slow; no wonder no one wanted to take him in the offseason.
3) The Panthers are better than I thought. They run the ball and defend the run very well. I wouldn’t make the mistake of counting them out just yet. This is still a 3 team race as the Saints have no D.
4) New England is a classic trap game. Good franchises rebound from poor play. The Pats are the definition of good franchise. The Falcons will get their A game on Sunday.
5) The Panthers would have won if it were not for John Fox’s poor clock management skills.
a) Fox wasted almost 40 seconds at the end of the first half when they had a chance at a makeable field goal. Instead they threw the ball away on an attempted Hail Mary.
b) Why did Fox go for it on 4th down late in the 4th quarter? Fox had all 3 of his timeouts, the 2 minute warning, and his defense had just stopped us. Kick the field goal, kick deep, cover the kick return and flip field position, don’t allow us to take back momentum with a turnover on downs, and keep the pressure on our offense.
***If Fox takes and makes those two earlier field goals, then the Panthers are only down 2 during their final drive. That means they don’t have to drive the length of the field and could have taken a makeable field goal at the end of the game for the win. ***

Gray Mule

September 21st, 2009
1:38 pm

We proved, once again:

The Falcons can’t cover or stop the Panther’s Smith.
He’s a Falcon killer. Always has been and nothing’s changed.
I fault the QB and not Smith for that late game pick.

Our younger, faster defense is an improvement but it’s still
a work in progress. QB pressure was there, although sometimes
just a bit late and the downfield coverage wasn’t really tight.

Explosive offense early. Then, either they adjusted and stopped
a lot of what we were doing or we changed and quit trying to explode.

Falcond did just enough to win – - – at home. It got kinda scary
late in the game.

Gray Mule


September 21st, 2009
1:47 pm

Does it seem like we’re protecting the defense by running & short passes. Trying to keep them off the field. By my count we’ve only made two throws downfield in two games.


September 21st, 2009
1:59 pm

Man I’m amazed by all the negative comments. This was a good victory against a fired up team. Carolina played very well. The Falcons remind me of the 2001 Patriots – this was a very Bellichekish win. The New Pats meet the old ones next week. 20-13 Falcons.