Rewind: Falcons got back to power football

Falcons lineman Sam Baker blocks Carolina's Charles Johnson, giving Matt Ryan time to pass. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons lineman Sam Baker blocks Carolina's Charles Johnson, giving Matt Ryan time to pass. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH — In Cam Newton’s homecoming as a professional, the Falcons intercepted three passes and finished strong to post a 31-17 victory over the Carolina Panthers. The win, coupled with Tampa Bay’s victory over New Orleans, leaves the defending NFC South champions one game out of first place.

What we learned

1. The run game still works: The Falcons put on a power-running display with 35 runs for 166 yards and three touchdowns. Michael Turner led the way with a season-high 139 yards on 27 carries (5.1 per rush). The Falcons keyed on working the outside creases of the Carolina defense and cut Turner loose on some toss sweeps. He ran with authority, barreling over defenders as he finished all of his runs strong.

2. Harry Douglas can make the big catch: Douglas, the fourth-year wide receiver, started for the injured Julio Jones and was a few missed connections away from having a mega-game. He had a favorable matchup against Carolina cornerback Captain Munnerlyn and the Falcons tried to get him the ball four times. He got open deep twice, but the passes were overthrown. He caught the other two passes thrown his way, including a 34-yarder on third-and-12 to keep the game-winning drive alive. Douglas normally plays the slot, but had to move outside. Falcons coach Mike Smith credited the offensive staff with getting Douglas ready for the position switch.

3. Pass protection is still a concern: The offensive line gave up one sack and five quarterback hits. They have given up just two sacks in the last three games, but Ryan is still getting hit too often. For the season, they have yielded 15 sacks and 40 quarterback hits.  Turner did his part in pass protection, picking up a blitzing cornerback in the second half.

Injury report

No new injuries were announced during the game. Wide receiver Julio Jones (hamstring), cornerback Christopher Owens (concussion) and safety James Sanders (hamstring) were inactive because of injuries. The Falcons are hoping to get all three players back for the Detroit game.

The numbers game

25 — The Falcons have forced at least one turnover in each of their last 25 games, the NFL’s longest streak. They have 12 takeaways through six games.

3 — Ryan’s one-yard touchdown run was the third rushing touchdown of his career.

8 — Safety Thomas DeCoud led the defense with a team-high eight tackles.

67 — The Panthers converted on 8 of 12 (67 percent) of their third down opportunities.

43 –Punter Matt Bosher averaged 43 yards on three punts and placed two punts inside the 20-yard line.

Sound bite

“Cam Newton is a superstar.”

–Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez on Carolina’s rookie quarterback.

Loose ends

Ryan pushed his home record to 22-3 at the Georgia Dome. . . The Falcons played penalty-free football in the second half. They had four penalties for 57 yards in the first half. Safety William Moore (pass interference), left tackle Sam Baker (holding), wide receiver Roddy White (unnecessary roughness) and defensive end John Abraham (roughing the passer) committed the penalties. . . After dropping two interceptions in the season-opener against Chicago, safety Thomas DeCoud now has an interception in three of the last four games. His three interceptions ties his career-high set in 2009.

What’s next

Atlanta (3-3) travels to play the upstart Detroit Lions (5-1) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Ford Field. This will be the 34th meeting. Detroit holds a 23-10 edge in the series. In the last meeting on Sept. 7, 2008, Ryan, in his first NFL game, threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins on his first pass in the league and went on to lead the Falcons to a 34-21 victory.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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95 comments Add your comment

Cal

October 17th, 2011
12:11 pm

I’m still a little concern about the very looooose zone,and what happens when a team commit 9, 10 players in the box, can we connect to our WR’s. I think it’s going to be important to really plan well for the Lions on both sides of the ball.

run the ball

October 17th, 2011
12:12 pm

run the ball

October 17th, 2011
12:12 pm

@#@$! second

run the ball

October 17th, 2011
12:13 pm

We’re just a pretty good football team. Nothing to really get excited about. Just pretty good.

Cal

October 17th, 2011
12:14 pm

Is there any particular reason the defense doesn’t play a lot of Cover 2 vs. the very relaxed Zone defense?

CGD..

October 17th, 2011
12:17 pm

pretty good @ beating a 1-5 squad? lol

Hollywould

October 17th, 2011
12:21 pm

Good 2nd half running the ball. I see where the 9ers ran it down Detroit’s throat. Need to do the same
but can we please throw in a screen?

#1SaintsFan

October 17th, 2011
12:21 pm

Congrats Falcons:
I said I would come back and “eat my words” if you guys won and you did, So congrats,,Enjoy the win!.Our boys clearly has some problems to fix and I think we will!!

CGD..

October 17th, 2011
12:23 pm

Non playoff team big deal..Lets continue to see how the Falcons match up when they hool up against playoff bound teams.. So far not so good? But 10 games left…Then they the playoffs..PLAYOFFS?

CGD..

October 17th, 2011
12:23 pm

CGD..

October 17th, 2011
12:25 pm

will meet in^.C’mon CGD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ivan

October 17th, 2011
12:26 pm

I know it’s hard to believe, but not every team in the league is like the Packers. You have to beat the 1-5 teams too.

Cal

October 17th, 2011
12:29 pm

We will not be able to run against the lions like we did Carolina unless we are able to back up the Linebackers with some quick short throws. I think if they plan some quick short slants to the slot receiver Harry Douglas), and outside WR’s it’ll open up. Also because of their ferocious D-line and our subpar O-line we’re going to need some screens to Rodgers. They should also consider putting Kerry Mieir in the slot a couple of times to complete some 8 to 10 yard inside curl routes to give a new look to the Lions Defense.

CGD..

October 17th, 2011
12:29 pm

The Falcons will never be like the Packers..Just freaking sad…………..

But thats okay..Theres always the Hawks?

Ivan

October 17th, 2011
12:30 pm

SaintsFan,

I actually think the Saints win that game had it not been for the fluke injury to Payton. It would have been a different game had he been calling the plays in the 2nd half.

CGD..

October 17th, 2011
12:31 pm

Its time for Mularkey to step up his game big time…

CGD..

October 17th, 2011
12:33 pm

Football coaches evey where take notice. Always pay attention to the action on the field when a play is being run so you dont get hurt out there on the sidlines! Those jokers are huge!

Cal

October 17th, 2011
12:42 pm

Mularkey didn’t step up his game, they didn’t do much. The Offense just ran the ball and completed only 15 passes. That’s not going to work against the Lions. Murlarkey is going to have to have a plan to keep them in the game and another plan for when they adapt after the half.

Preston Thompson

October 17th, 2011
12:44 pm

Give Mularkey credit if he’s the one that call the plays in the second half. Finally they didn’t curl up in the fetal position and give up the game. The first time I can remember the Falcons called plays as though they wanted to win instead of not lose. I know it was a 1-5 team but this is about the Falcons. I was impressed and after how many years?

lowdownjj

October 17th, 2011
12:51 pm

I love the fact that we got back to smash mouth football on offense. I am worried that it wont contnue once Julio gets back. We are a run first team. Yesterday proved that once again. I still don’t like the soft zone on D. I would love to see more of an attacking defense. When we got aggresive with the rush(blitz) and pressed up on the recievers the results were great. RUN BURNER RUN

Cal

October 17th, 2011
12:56 pm

They didn’t do nothing special or different and yes us playing a 1-5 does matter. Mularkey has yet to plan a game and make ajustments in the second half after the D coordinators on the opposing team make their ajustments. He has not even attempted a play that utilizes all his weapons or put them on the fill at one time. They need more four wide sets with the running back staying in the backfield to block, with the option to run a delay or screen. The WR’s have to run 3 short routs and 1 long route.

LDawg

October 17th, 2011
12:58 pm

That soft zone crap ain’t gonna work against Stafford – not by a longshot. We will be picked apart!

Cal

October 17th, 2011
1:00 pm

Julio is not the problem, play calling is the problem. He was drafted not just for speed but for his run blocking ability to, that’s what he did in Alabama. A coordinator knows how to use him even if you have a run first pass second team.

Cal

October 17th, 2011
1:01 pm

Oh yeah, We haven’t been able to run against the good teams we played. Do you ever wonder why?

nathan

October 17th, 2011
1:11 pm

Congrats on the wins, Falcons!

Hey, can we bring back the 80s throwback unis, red hat/shirt, gray pants? Thanks!

drmaryb .(*_*).

October 17th, 2011
1:25 pm

Just Win Baby!

“pretty good @ beating a 1-5 squad? lol” -CGD-
___________________

Am I missing something here? Didn’t the 1-5 team board a plane and a bus with a game plawn drawn up to beat the Falcons yesterday?

Would this knuckle head suggest that we not defend the turf and draw up some losing plays purposefully?
_________________

I just don’t get it? Last time I checked, Aren’t you supposed to win the games that you are supposed to win, (all home games and split on the road to be considered a winning ball club? Or does that only apply to the NBA?
(she smirks)

JayCool 4DABirds

October 17th, 2011
1:30 pm

You guys sound like some haters. The Falcons play calling has never been the problem as much of failure to execute. The Falcons executed the game plan really well Sunday and that’s why they got a win. Detroit’s offense is not all that hot, especially if you take away a few big plays that Stafford and Megatron connected on. They are a big play offense just like Carolina, stop the big play and you can beat them. Their DL is superb but that’s about where there defense stops. Remember teams have been scoring on them all along but just surrendering the lead to very deep pass plays to Megatron.

YES

October 17th, 2011
1:45 pm

Falcons smacked that stupid freaking doo rag right off of Scam!!!!!

YES

October 17th, 2011
1:46 pm

What happened Scam? How come you didn’t run to the crowd looking for your look at me, me, me adulation after all your interceptions and sacks?

Jerry Glanville

October 17th, 2011
1:48 pm

I HATE the soft zone defense!
Who in the world lives by the” let’s give up 8-12 yards per play and try and not give up 30-40 yards?”
We have the talent to be an aggressive style defensive unit

Just sayin……………….

Go Falcons!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SirReal

October 17th, 2011
1:52 pm

Needed the win. Still say we have a lot of work to do. I HATE these schemes on 3rd down….i mean it’s like the D NEVER gets off the field. Now I see why we run a time management offense. We wanna do the explosive, attacking scheme but with this D, you do better sometimes keeping them off the field. Smitty whats up with YOUR defense b/c at this point I cant just blame BVG anymore when you are supposed to be a defensive minded coach.

YES

October 17th, 2011
1:58 pm

Matt Ryan showed class on how you act after scoring a touchdown…unlike Scam.

YES

October 17th, 2011
2:01 pm

Scam fans are probably same sick fans of #7

YES

October 17th, 2011
2:02 pm

Any computers missing from the dome after Scam was there?

Falcon James

October 17th, 2011
2:08 pm

it aint bad enought that roddy be dropping balls all year, been known for hurting the falcon with his mouth, but then yesterday, gave a cheap shot after the play on the opposits side of the field!!!! Who he think he his, Mike Tyson?

guess who's doing better!!

October 17th, 2011
2:19 pm

AJ Green is having phenomenal year in Cincy….the catches he’s making are even more spectacular than his amazing ones at UGA….definitely best rookie out there…
Didn’t it used to take at least a couple years for a receiver to develop in this league, like Roddy for instance? rookie qb’s and receivers the past few years are putting that myth to rest….proves you can and must get a player that can make an impact in his 1st season.

You know that's right

October 17th, 2011
2:26 pm

Now comes Matt Stafford…..love ya, but you’re gonna be the enemy this week….hint, hint MV fans, that’s how you treat a player you’re a fan of when he plays your so called team…like an enemy for that game…MV fans are so stupid.

Stepchild

October 17th, 2011
2:41 pm

Most MV fans were never real Falcon fans.

Ivan

October 17th, 2011
2:42 pm

“Cal

October 17th, 2011
12:42 pm
Mularkey didn’t step up his game, they didn’t do much. The Offense just ran the ball and completed only 15 passes. That’s not going to work against the Lions.
Cal

October 17th, 2011
12:42 pm
Mularkey didn’t step up his game, they didn’t do much. The Offense just ran the ball and completed only 15 passes. That’s not going to work against the Lions.”

Yea. It will. Ask Frank Gore.

Tell it like it is.

October 17th, 2011
2:45 pm

Hey,The NFL is a passing leage! You have to throw the pass,or defend the pass!

Michael M.

October 17th, 2011
2:49 pm

If Atlanta takes what they did yesterday into Detroit the Motor City will be de-motorized ! Carolina has a good football team. Their record may be bad but they have been in all their games except late in the second half of yesterdays game.
The Lions have been a cinderella team so far this year…are they really that good ? 49ers exposed them yesterday but the 49ers are playing good too this year. A few more weeks will settle down the NFL and who is who this Season.
GB better look over their shoulders cause other Teams are right behind them tapping on their shoulders !
As for Atlanta, was a Super Win yesterday with a whole Team involved effort ! If they continue playing this way they have as good as a shot as anyone to their own fate this year !
Aints HC needs to learn to get outta the way and not stand there like a tree……look like a bowling ball pin going down yesterday..still laughin here !

newkid

October 17th, 2011
2:49 pm

Wasn’t it ‘Dirty Harry’ who said a man has gotta know his limitations? Apparently Matt Ryan listened and learned (as well he should). To a casual observer it seems obvious he doesn’t hold his arm strength in high esteem, consequently he opts for 5-15 yard routes rather than electing to air it out a la Rodgers, Romo, et al. That bodes for fewer mistakes in the passing game, but far fewer big passing plays. When there are big plays in the passing game, they’ll likely come from ‘run-after-catch’ (RAC) opportunities. For a team without a real break away threat in the running game, we shouldn’t expect very many come-from-behind victories during the remainder of the season. This also makes for somewhat boring football from the home side. Nevertheless, in tribute to Al Davis, ‘just win baby’.

Bear

October 17th, 2011
2:55 pm

If Turner can keep doing what he did yesterday we can get on a roll and win a lot more games. Peters INT was the best play all day.

Michael M.

October 17th, 2011
2:57 pm

I love boring Football when it has a W for your home Team……………Coach Smitty was seen at local Gym taking Boxing lessons for upcoming bout with Lions head coach next Sunday in Detroit.

Michael M.

October 17th, 2011
2:59 pm

Smart play by Corey hanging on to the ball with both hands it was a game changer !

Tell it like it is.

October 17th, 2011
3:05 pm

Teams that are winning games like Detroit,and Greenbay are pass happy teams,they use the run spairingly to keep pressure of the QB,to be able to beat these teams,you have to have a balanced attack.Same thing applies to the Patroits

yeahsure

October 17th, 2011
3:06 pm

Ok. We got back to playing power football. Nice job. But we haven’t answered the question of… can we move the football when teams stack the box and stop the run. It seems like we took 2 steps back, then 2 steps forward to where we were before.

MM needs to find a way to incorporate Julio, Roddy, Gonzo, Quizz, and HD into the gameplan. We still haven’t played a balanced complete game yet. If/when that happens, we will be dangerous.

SteveO

October 17th, 2011
3:08 pm

Getting McClure back has helped the run blocking schemes ……I think we passed blocked better last year because we used more 2 tightend sets which gave us an extra blocker….but now with all the “spread offense” crap, and so called explosive plays tried, ryan is taking more 5 and 7 step drops and holding the ball longer…thus the hits and sacks…..why change from what got you 13 wins last year……but we will not go anywhere until we get some leadership on defense…they look like a chinese fire drill at times….we have no “calming force” on defence….someone with more than just atheletic ability….maybe some brains!!

Michael M.

October 17th, 2011
3:11 pm

Falcons have a tough 4 game stretch just ahead
1- Lions
2-Colts
3-Aints
4-Titans
Every one of them is a must win to get in first place in NFC South

Tell it like it is.

October 17th, 2011
3:20 pm

We have got to up our play in order to stay with the Saints and Bucs.Its vital that we streach the field,and get the runing game going,and the defence has got to play like yesterday,for us to have a chance for the NFC south title.