Archive for October, 2011

Video: Falcons handle Panthers

The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter breaks down the Falcons 31-17 win over the Panthers with the Charlotte Obersver’s Joe Person in Atlanta on Sunday.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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GAME STORY: Falcons 31, Panthers 17

On a key third-and 12, Atlanta's Harry Douglas gets past the Panthers' Captain Munnerlyn for a 34--yard gain and a first down on the go-ahead drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Matt Ryan. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

On a key third-and 12, Atlanta's Harry Douglas gets past the Panthers' Captain Munnerlyn for a 34–yard gain and a first down on the go-ahead drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Matt Ryan. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

No one was popping champagne bottles  in the Falcons’ locker room after this one.

But in pivotal situation, the Falcons were in a celebratory mood after a morale-boosting 31-17 victory over rookie sensation Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

“I felt we got back on track,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said after watching his team string together 17 unanswered, fourth-quarter points to steam past the Panthers.

The Falcons improved to 3-3 and play the upstart Detroit Lions (5-1) next week; the Panthers dropped to 1-5.

“It’s a huge win for us,” cornerback Dunta Robinson said. “It was big for our morale. It was big for our confidence as a football team.”

The Panthers led 17-14 going into the fourth quarter and appeared …

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Q&A: Mike Smith believes Falcons are ‘back on track’

Falcons head coach Mike Smith and Panthers quarterback Cam Newton greet each other at mid-field during pregame warmups. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons head coach Mike Smith and Panthers quarterback Cam Newton greet each other at mid-field during pregame warmups. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons coach Mike Smith was clearly proud of his team after their 31-17 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at the Georgia Dome. He pronounced that they were “back on track” after the NFC South victory.

Here’s what he had to say after the game:

OPENING STATEMENT:  I felt we got back on track today in terms of our preparation this week. It was a very solid week of preparation. Especially in the second half of the ball game, we did what we feel like is our DNA that we want to do and that is to control both sides of the line of scrimmage, both offensively and defensively. We had some trouble in the first half, getting off on third down. In the second half, the final four drives of the ballgame ended in three-and-outs or interceptions and that’s the way you want to end a game. I felt like we were fairly solid across the …

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Deion Sanders honored at halftime

By Chris Vivlamore 

The Georgia Dome is still Deion Sanders’ house.

 

Deion Sander's Ring of Honor helmet from last season. He's getting his Hall of Fame ring today. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)

Deion Sander's Ring of Honor helmet from last season. He's getting his Hall of Fame ring today. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)

“It is that,” the newly inducted member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame said before Sunday’s Falcons-Panthers game.

Sanders has received his Hall of Fame ring during a halftime ceremony. He was inducted in Canton in August.

Sanders said he will always consider Atlanta home after the Falcons selected the cornerback with the fifth overall pick in the 1989 NFL draft out of Florida State.

“It was the first time in my life I had ever been chosen and I’m thankful for it,” Sanders said.

The outspoken Sanders played five seasons for the Falcons where he was a three-time Pro Bowl starter. His career began when he returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown in his first NFL game, against the Los Angeles Rams at Fulton County Stadium. He would sign as a free agent with San Francisco …

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INACTIVES: John Abraham will play vs. Panthers

Harry Douglas will start today against Carolina in place of Julio Jones, who's out with a hamstring injury. Curtis Compton/Ccompton@ajc.com

Harry Douglas will start today against Carolina in place of Julio Jones, who's out with a hamstring injury. Curtis Compton/Ccompton@ajc.com

The Falcons will have defensive end John Abraham, the second active sack leader in the NFL, against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers at 1 p.m. today at the Georgia Dome.

Abraham, who’s battling through a groin injury, missed last week’s game against Green Bay.  He was limited in practice on Friday and was given a 50-50 chance to play against the Panthers.

Abraham, coming off an All-Pro season, is tied with defensive end Lawrence Sidbury for the team lead in sacks with two.

Also, the offensive line is at full strength. Center Todd McClure (knee) and guard Garrett Reynolds (ankle) are active for the game.

Wide receiver Julio Jones (hamstring) and cornerback Christopher Owens (concussion) will not play against the Panthers. Safety James Sanders (hamstring) was also declared inactive. Wide receiver Harry Douglas (11 catches for 80 yards)

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3 key matchups: Panthers vs. Falcons

 

Atlanta Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes intercepts Ravens quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

Atlanta Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes intercepts Ravens quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

Panthers WR Steve Smith vs. Falcons CBs Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson: Grimes has been targeted on 26 passes this season, and teams have completed 14 (53.8 percent). Robinson has been targeted 27 times with 21 completions (77.7 percent). Both will be assigned to Smith when he appears on their side of the field. Grimes plays on the left and Robinson on the right. Smith is off to a great start. He has 27 catches for a NFC-leading 609 yards. The Falcons likely will bracket Smith with a safety and cornerback, depending on the down and distance.

Panthers QB Cam Newton vs. Falcons LB Stephen Nicholas: The Falcons had to play containment against Michael Vick earlier this season and used Nicholas mainly and Sean Weatherspoon at times. Newton has 40 rushes for 160 yards and has scored five rushing touchdowns. Nicholas returned to action against Green Bay on Sunday …

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Injury report: Abraham returns to practice, 50-50 for game

FLOWERY BRANCH – The Falcons might have their top defender to help contain

Maybe these two guys -- John Abraham and Ray Edwards -- will give Cam Newton a special "welcome" to the NFL. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Maybe these two guys — John Abraham and Ray Edwards — will give Cam Newton a special "welcome" to the NFL. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

 Carolina rookie sensation Cam Newton on Sunday.

All-Pro defensive end John Abraham (groin) returned to practice on Friday and was given a 50-50 chance of playing by the team. He was limited in practice and listed as questionable on the team’s injury report. He did not play last week against Green Bay with the injury that was initially diagnosed as a hip injury. He’s tied with defensive end Lawrence Sidbury for the team lead in sacks with two.

Also, the offensive line could be at full strength. Center Todd McClure (knee) and guard Garrett Reynolds (ankle) returned to practice and were both listed as questionable.

Wide receiver Julio Jones (hamstring) and cornerback Christopher Owens (concussion) will not play against he Panthers. Safety James Sanders (hamstring) …

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Video: Playboy Playmate Pilar Lastra’s fantasy tips

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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Mike Smith breaks down the Panthers

Head coach Mike Smith helps with the scouting report on the Panthers. (Curtis Compton/ Ccompton@ajc.com)

Head coach Mike Smith helps with the scouting report on the Panthers. (Curtis Compton/ Ccompton@ajc.com)

FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons coach Mike Smith breaks down the Panthers for us:

Q: How much of Carolina’s offensive scheme comes from (offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski’s) days in San Diego and how much from his Cleveland days?

A: I think that there’s actually Cleveland and San Diego, but there’s also some Auburn-tinge to it as well in terms of that they run the read option, the read plays that their quarterback is familiar with. It’s been a challenge this week in terms of our preparation. It’s something that you don’t normally see and it’s very hard to simulate. But we’ve worked through it these three days and we look forward to going out there and trying to defend our turf.

Q: Carolina’s has been hit hard at linebacker, how’s the trio of Dan Conner (MLB), Jason Williams (WLB) and James Anderson (SLB) playing?

A: They lost the two players that you mentioned (Jon Beason …

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Injury report: 3 starters return to practice

 

The Atlanta Falcons cheerleaders proudly show off their pink tops in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

The Atlanta Falcons cheerleaders proudly show off their pink tops in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH – The Falcons had three starters return to practice and signaled that All-Pro wide receiver Roddy White has recovered from his thigh injury on Thursday.

Center Todd McClure (right knee), tight end Tony Gonzalez (elbow) and safety William Moore (left shoulder) all returned to practice and were limited. They are expected to play against Carolina at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

White, who’s been battling his injury all season, fully participated in practice for the first time in three weeks. He will be needed because Julio Jones (hamstring) has already been announced “out” of the Carolina game.

Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (knee) and defensive end Cliff Matthews (knee) were both limited in practice.

In addition to Jones, defensive end John Abraham (groin), cornerback Christopher Owens (concussion) and safety

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