The game that was
The Falcons had a chance to rout the Titans, but four drives stalled inside the 20-yard line and two late touchdowns by Tennessee kept things close. Bouncing back from a tough loss to New Orleans, the Falcons held on for a 23-17 victory.
What we learned
1. The no-huddle offense is potent. The Falcons opened the game in their no-huddle offense. After driving 56 yards in five plays, they elected to stay in attack mode. They used Michael Turner as a single running back with wide receivers RoddyWhite, Harry Douglas and Eric Weems, and tight end Tony Gonzalez. With quarterback Matt Ryan calling the plays at the line of scrimmage, they got their blocking assignments correct and dictated some of Tennessee’s pass defenses.
2. Running back Michael Turner is a battering ram. Turner had his fifth 100-yard game of the season and set the tone early with his physical runs. He plowed over a number of Titans, including safety Michael Griffin, who was steamrolled twice. Turner’s bruising runs inspired the offense. Turner has 200 carries for 888 yards and eight touchdowns, and is closing in on his third 1,000-yard season.
3. Run defense is stout. A week after rushing for 130 yards, Tennessee running back Chris Johnson, the former NFL rushing champ, was held to just 13 yards on 12 carries. The defense has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 14 consecutive games, including the playoffs; that dates back to the 13th game of last season, when Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart ran for 133 yards. The Falcons have allowed just four 100-yard rushers over their last 39 games since New England’s Fred Taylor ran for 105 yards in 2009. The Falcons defense has allowed 85.4 yards per game, which ranks second in the league. San Francisco leads the league at 73.9 yards per game.
Cornerback Kelvin Hayden (right foot) left the game with under four minutes to play in the second quarter and did not return. No other injuries were reported by the Falcons.
The numbers game
The Falcons offense generated 432 yards of total offense — 316 passing and 116 rushing — against the Titans. It was their second-highest total of the season. The Falcons had 432 total yards against the Colts on Nov. 6 and 481 yards against the Saints on Nov. 13.
Cornerback Christopher Owens led the defense with a team-high seven tackles.
Tennessee converted on 8 of 14 (57 percent) third-down attempts and also on a fourth-down-and-17 play in the fourth quarter.
In 41 games with the team, Gonzalez has 19 touchdown receptions, which ranks third in team history behind Alge Crumpler (35) and Jim Mitchell (28).
“Obviously, it was a good rebound from last week. I thought everybody prepared really well and put that game behind us.”
– Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan on winning after a tough overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints.
The Falcons enjoyed a 13-minute, 58-second advantage in time of possession. … After not getting a turnover against the Saints to end their streak of 27 games, Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson intercepted a pass in the first quarter. It was his first interception of the season.
The Falcons (6-4) will face the Minnesota Vikings (2-8) at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog