Falcons rebound with 23-17 victory over Titans

Falcons running back Michael Turner bowls over Tennessee Titans Michael Griffin as he bulls his way through the Titans for a long first down run during 2nd quarter action. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons running back Michael Turner bowls over Tennessee Titans Michael Griffin as he bulls his way through the Titans for a long first down run during 2nd quarter action. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

The Falcons went exclusively with their no-huddle offense most of the game against Tennessee, a departure from how they’ve operated all season.

The move didn’t fix their red-zone woes or eliminate penalties, but it allowed them to build a 17-point lead and hold on for a 23-17 victory over the Titans on Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

The Falcons (6-4) picked up half a game on the idle New Orleans Saints (7-3).

“We came into this ballgame looking to get back on track,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “That was our No. 1 objective, and we got that accomplished.”

The Falcons were coming off a tough 26-23 loss to New Orleans in overtime last week after a controversial call by Smith to go for it on a fourth-and-1 play from the Falcons’ 29-year-old failed.

Under Smith, the Falcons are now 16-3 following a loss during the regular season, including eight consecutive wins in bounce-back games.

“We have a mature locker room,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. “We have guys that understand what it takes to be a professional. In this league, you’re going to have some tough losses and you need to move on from that.”

The Falcons opened the game in their no-huddle offense and stuck with it after Ryan tossed a 17-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tony Gonzalez to end a crisp five-play, 56-yard drive.

“It wasn’t planned,” running back Michael Turner said. “We pretty much just went with it. Everything was working. Coach said they are not stopping it, so why should we stop doing it? It was keeping them off balance. They were trying to make calls to stop the no-huddle, but everything they were doing we had an answer for it.”

All-Pro wide receiver Roddy White had his best game of the season, finishing with seven catches for 147 yards. It was just his second 100-yard game this season; he had 140 yards receiving against Tampa Bay on Sept. 25.

“We fixed some things today,” White said.

Out of the no-huddle, the Falcons used Turner in the backfield, three wide receivers in White, Harry Douglas and Eric Weems, and Gonzalez at tight end. On other plays, Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers were flanked out to the left slot to give a five-receiver look.

“Coming into this week, I thought it was time for me to get a little more [involved] in the offense and make some big plays,” White said. “Today was a good day.”

The Falcons’ pass defense suffered a major blow when veteran nickel back Kelvin Hayden left the game with a right foot injury with under four minutes to play in the second quarter. He was taken to the locker room on a golf cart. Christopher Owens took over for Hayden.

Behind the bruising runs of Turner, the Falcons held a 13-3 lead at halftime.

The Falcons opened the second half with an 80-yard drive that was capped by a 4-yard touchdown run by Turner. White got open for a 43-yard gain. He hauled down a Ryan pass while being covered by Tennessee safety Jordan Babineaux and cornerback Jason McCourty.

After stalling in thered zone, Matt Bryant added a 24-yard field goal to put the Falcons up 23-3. The Falcons were two of six in the red zone against the Titans.

Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker, who came on for the injured Matt Hasselbeck in the third quarter, tossed his first NFL touchdown pass to Nate Washington to make it 23-10.

Washington caught the ball along the right sideline and faked out Owens and safety Thomas DeCoud on his way to the end zone on the 40-yard play.

The Falcons had another promising drive stall in the red zone when Turner fumbled.

Locker, a rookie from Washington, engineered a second touchdown drive, completing it with a 4-yard pass to Washington with 3:06 left to play to make it 23-17. Locker led the Titans on a 14-play drive that covered 84 yards.

The Falcons had their “hands” team on the field and expected an onside kick, but the Titans elected to boot the ball out of the end zone. The Falcons were able to run out the clock to secure the victory.

Turner finished with 100 yards on 21 carries. It was his 24th 100-yard game with the Falcons, tying a team record held by Gerald Riggs set in 1982-88.

A week after posting career highs with 351 yards passing and 52 attempts against the New Orleans Saints, Ryan completed 22 of 32 passes for 316 yards and one touchdown against the Titans

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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123 comments Add your comment

Michael Marr

November 20th, 2011
7:30 pm

Day One Fan

November 20th, 2011
7:31 pm

BVG’s crap soft zone nearly blew this one. An effort of near dominance became a nail biter because. Uhhhh..First?

DavidGilmour

November 20th, 2011
7:31 pm

Love to see Matt Ryan throw the deep ball a couple of times. That long pass to Roddy “greasy fingers” was a great throw and catch.

84BirdsFlyin2High11

November 20th, 2011
7:36 pm

This team has chances to make theses games blowouts just can’t take that next step. Grimes needs to come up with the pick, and we need to find the endzone when we get within the 20!!!!!!!

Michael M.

November 20th, 2011
7:41 pm

Got to love it when a plan comes together ! What Bozo said Ryan can’t throw the deep pass?
I called it 31—-17 but I got to be happy with the 23—-17 Win also.
Go Falcons !

painter

November 20th, 2011
7:41 pm

Now we need nine more.

AL-FalconFan

November 20th, 2011
7:43 pm

HEY MIKE! You don’t have to go for it on 4th down EVERY time! Sometimes, kicking a field goal is the correct call. Against a better team, that could have cost you the game. (Again!)

momoney

November 20th, 2011
7:44 pm

Can’t put a team away, not this year for the birds.

Jake Locker

November 20th, 2011
7:49 pm

After this game they gonna call me ” The Hurt Locker”, but boy I am feeling those hits from them Dirty Birds right now, oooooouchhhhhhhhh ! !

PlanB

November 20th, 2011
7:51 pm

I moved from Gainesville, Ga. to Durham, NC. I have been a Falcon fan for decades. If the Falcons don’t get rid of Chris Owens I will probably not renew my Directv football package. I said when Hayden went down, this game will change drastically. It did. Use Farnks or make trades. Look at what Owens did. NO 21 watch him. He is useless. MS likes hitters. He hits hard after his WR catches the ball if they are close enough. Getting tired of this brand of coaching. Some coaches can get you to the playoffs. Others can get you farther. I’m beginning to think playoffs is as far as these coaches can go.

Matt Ryan

November 20th, 2011
7:52 pm

They don’t call me ole ” Noodle Arm ” for nothing, you guys see that deep Bomb I dropped down on Roddy White for a Catch ?

Dave

November 20th, 2011
7:53 pm

We are now afraid of our shadow. No playoff’’s for a scarecrow

Jersey

November 20th, 2011
7:53 pm

Good win for ATL, only reason for it being this close was due to turners fumble, I think we can win the division, atl got Vikings next week, probably without Petersen. N.o. Has the giants, I still like our chances.

PlanB

November 20th, 2011
7:57 pm

@ Michael M – I’m one bozo. Ever heard that an old blind sow can find an acorn occasionally. And how many completed passes did you see that were thrown a little behind the receivers. I saw plenty.

L. R. Glass, Sr.

November 20th, 2011
8:01 pm

To All You Naysayers; Are you happy now? Ryan called his own game and it was a good one. Oh, by the way: The Falcons DID put the game away when they needed to. A win is a win is a…… you know the rest!

GHunt

November 20th, 2011
8:01 pm

Where is Dominique Franks? Chris Owens is the invisiable cornerback. Both of Jake Locker’s touchdown passes were on Owens. Additionally the fourth and sixteen pass was complete for a first down because he missed the tackle. Owens is target zero anytime he enters the game.
Mike Smith is a scared coach and he seems to make the team play scared when the game is on the line. When will we learn how to put teams away in the fourth quarter?
This win nearly costed me a heart attack.

Michael M.

November 20th, 2011
8:02 pm

I did too all day long on NFL Sunday Ticket…lol

Falcon James

November 20th, 2011
8:05 pm

the falcon barely squeaked another one. turner try to single handed give this game away with the fumble. the started out looking just mediocre, then take they foot off the gas. they no excuse for letting the game get so close. dunta still gave up way too many big play. he got a lucky call on the interception. everybody but the ref could see he drop the ball. then in the 4th quarter, he give up every pass that thrown his way. tired old abe finally got to 3 sack for the season. he be sleeping the whole season. one that that I like is Roddy finally keep his mouth shut. amazing what he can do when stop running that big mouth.

charles

November 20th, 2011
8:06 pm

I think falcons will win the rest of their games except at NO-making us 11-5-may not win the division but will surely get us in the playoffs-and then who knows?

alvin

November 20th, 2011
8:13 pm

what a boring game,we need to put these weak teams away in the second half..Matty Ice had some good throws,thought for aminute Roddy and Weems were going to start ‘who can get the most personal fouls ‘contest going

Michael M.

November 20th, 2011
8:14 pm

Season Stats for Ryan and Turner ——2011

Ryan

219 of 360 atts
2625 yards
15 tds

Turner
200 atts rush
888 yards
8 tds

alvin

November 20th, 2011
8:14 pm

worried about the tiebreakers for playoffs

Bob

November 20th, 2011
8:17 pm

How many fans were there. The Dome looked 1/2 empty on TV.

alvin

November 20th, 2011
8:18 pm

there goes chris owens following the rec into the endzone again

Michael M.

November 20th, 2011
8:19 pm

No easy wins for any teams in contention because everybody playing anyone that has a shot at playoffs or their division Title is up to be knocked off the block with a loss by the opposing Team.

That goes for Atlanta, New Orleans, in the NFC South and whoever is in the game and the hunt in their respective divisions. So much for anyone having a easy run at it the rest of the year!

It ain’t happening out there fellas !

Flubbed Falcon

November 20th, 2011
8:24 pm

Where is the team that was supposed to run the table this year? They tried their best to lose but pulled it out fortunately.

Just saying

November 20th, 2011
8:25 pm

Ugly win? Beautiful win? A win is a win and that’s all that counts…..ugly and beauty count only in beauty contests! Go Falcons…just keep on winning! That will satisfy most of us; most of the time.

FED UP

November 20th, 2011
8:25 pm

boring falcons, weak weak weak, why go to the playoffs and barely staying alive ha ha ha staying alive , please barely , smith needs to take class on coaching and be gone with his whole team

CGD..

November 20th, 2011
8:36 pm

Freaking Rookie almost beat these sorry Falcons….

Had Jake Lockey started the game he’d beat em by two scores at least!

Michael M.

November 20th, 2011
8:36 pm

@ FED UP————-I bet you could ask Carolina or Tampa Bay if they could swap places where Atlanta is right now they would jump on the opportunity before you could finish the sentence. Both played good games today except when Carolina let it get away from them.

CGD..

November 20th, 2011
8:37 pm

Giants 52- Falcons 21… round 1 of the playoffs? Maybe?

Michael M.

November 20th, 2011
8:39 pm

@ CGD————-Pass me that jug you drinking out of man !

CGD..

November 20th, 2011
8:39 pm

GB would beat the FAL-CONS BY 5-6 TD’s right about now…Whew……

veaserva

November 20th, 2011
8:39 pm

If only White could keep his mouth shut and stay focus and play like he did in today in every game .Turner played like a beast but the falcons need Jones to get healthy and back on the field .

CGD..

November 20th, 2011
8:40 pm

That Rookie’s pretty good Michael, you have to admit? come on?

CGD..

November 20th, 2011
8:42 pm

Turner gets the game ball..Great job Turner!

CGD..

November 20th, 2011
8:43 pm

U-G-L-Y…………………………………………………………….Brutal…..

veaserva

November 20th, 2011
8:43 pm

Coach Smith offensives strategy is way to conservative . He always look as if he’s playing not to lose instead of calling plays to finished a team off .

Sam

November 20th, 2011
8:44 pm

Amazing video of a high school senior from Columbia TN who kicks the ball dead straight 75-80 yards in the air. He was successful on 54 of 54 attempts this season….100%. For some crazy reason, he wants to go to Georgia Tech.

Watch for yourself…it is unreal!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_JKwgwFY3g

extremus

November 20th, 2011
8:45 pm

A needed win and, on paper, a fairly dominant game.

Now, here’s my big concern: the Falcons may want to rename themselves the Magicians because I’ve never seen as many big second-half leads disappear as I have the past two seasons. This team BADLY needs a shut-down, run-up-the-score, killer instinct, and they still haven’t found one.

Michael M.

November 20th, 2011
8:46 pm

Look who the Rookie played———–The Falcons——–they have a way of making Rookies look good

SirReal

November 20th, 2011
8:49 pm

A win’s a win. LOTS of work to be done yet. Roddy dropped ANOTHER td this week but set up 1 today too. Douglas was UNDERutilized yet again. The guy’s gonna walk in free agency and become a star. Wait and see. BVG’s soft zones almost blew it again. On the upside, the line kept Ryan pretty clean today. I like this lineup. Sorry Baker. I think you’re done if Svitek keeps Allen doesnt get to Ryan next week. Ryan even threw a pass for more than 20 yards today. He’s good for 1 every 8 games.lol Turner did his thing today also. They’ll clean it all up and get ready for the Vikes next week. 6-4 is better than 5-5. Take it week by week and after 17 weeks you’ll be what your record says you are.

Third down efficiency is overrated

November 20th, 2011
8:49 pm

Final stats: Titans 57%, Falcons 33% on third down…Falcons win. LOL.

Wrecker

November 20th, 2011
8:54 pm

Some dumb comments on here after a good win. Locker played better primarily because he got the ball out early. Falcons had prepared for Hasselbeck, not Locker. They did a good job adjusting to Locker’s mobility when they started faking the rush with a lineman or linebacker, then dropping him back to spy the QB. A couple of missed coverages (I am looking at you, Owens), a couple of missed tackles, and a few mistakes let the Midgets back in the game, but the Falcons shut it down when needed.

I am more concerned with the red zone problems. We do not try to get Quiz on the edges; instead, it is run Snelling or Turner between the tackles. Let’s release Palmer or Gonzalez on a rub and shallow fade or hit a slant to the slot man or wideout.

Michael M.

November 20th, 2011
8:56 pm

How bout the Bucs………….they stayed in that game with GB up to when the Officials had to step in and start throwing the yellow flags to keep drives going for GB. ” The Chosen Ones ” I suppose, but we will see when they take on the Lions again

Greg

November 20th, 2011
8:57 pm

This is to Michael M. With regard to all the people who have left comments on this AJC site saying that Ryan can’t throw the deep ball: they don’t mean he NEVER connects. They just mean he’s VERY POOR at throwing the deep ball. This is obviously true to anyone with eyes. (And his accuracy ain’t that good with short or mid-range passes either. He just isn’t a consistently accurate QB. This is really not a controversial subject.)

Wrecker

November 20th, 2011
9:06 pm

Greg: Ryan clearly is a “rhythm” quarterback who is more accurate in the no-huddle. He had a good game today and hit some good spots, but is still trying to find his consistency when Mularkey is calling the run, run, pass game plan. I still like him better behind center than in the shotgun (helps him get the rhythm with the drop). Better protection has helped him set his feet in his good games this year. Looks like Sam Baker has lost his job permanently. What a waste of a first round draft pick.

painter

November 20th, 2011
9:08 pm

Just did some quick numbers on remaining opponents for playoff hopefuls.

Winning percentage of remaining opponents (current record):

Detroit (7-3) .650
NY Giants (6-3) .580
Chicago (7-3) .525
NO (7-3) .475
Dallas (6-4) .439
Atlanta (6-4) .417

Dallas (6-4) .439

Eric C.

November 20th, 2011
9:08 pm

The deep pass to RW in the 3rd Qt was a thing of beauty…I’ve been a critic of MR’s deep pass ability, but he and RW really connected on that one.

Eric C.

November 20th, 2011
9:09 pm

Painter, excellent…thanks for the info