By Chris Vivlamore
As the Falcons continue their push toward the playoffs, they need Roddy White.
Their No. 1 receiver, who entered the season with four straight 1,100-plus yard receiving campaigns, has struggled at times. He has been plagued by leg injuries and dropped passes. He had just one 100-yard game in the first nine contests.
He’s starting to put those troubles behind him, especially in the last two games. That’s good news for the Falcons (7-4) as they play meaningful second-half games.
So Roddy, what does it feel like to have back-to-back 100-yard receiving games?
“It means I feel like I’m in a groove and finally starting to put things together,” White said after the Falcons’ 24-14 victory over the Vikings Sunday.
White had 10 receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings. The performance came one week after he caught seven passes for 147 yards against the Titans. The totals give White 830 yards on 64 catches with five games remaining – another 1,000-yard season well within reach.
White’s 6-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter Sunday gave him 41 for his career. It moved him into sole possession of third place on the franchise’s all-time touchdown receptions list.
“It was a perfect play call,” said White who was left wide open when the cornerback covered Harry Douglas and the safety went with Tony Gonzalez. “That’s how we draw it up.”
“We had a little base line by me and Harry [Douglas] was coming out to the flat and the corner chased it. Tony [Gonzalez] was on the inside and the safety jumped to him and I was wide open. That’s how we draw it up.”
White passed Alfred Jenkins (40) on the all-time list. He now trails only Terance Mathis (57) and Andre Rison (56).
White said he was unaware of the milestone.
“I just want to keep playing,” White said. “It’s the second half of the season. It’s time for us to hit our stride. It’s November and December football so you have to go out there and win.”
White had 62 yards in the second half. His final three receptions helped the Falcons put away a Vikings team that had climbed to within three points.
The Vikings scored early in the fourth quarter, taking advantage of a Falcons’ punt miscue, to make it 17-14. On the Falcons’ second drive following the score, they put together a nine-play, 73-yard drive. It culminated in Michael Palmer’s 3-yard touchdown reception. On the drive, White caught passes of 26 and 23 yards. The second came on a third-and-4 from the Vikings’ 30-yard line to keep the drive alive.
“We knew, offensively, it was important for us to execute well on that drive and I thought we converted on some third downs, which was huge,” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “We were effective throwing the football and we responded the way we needed to in order to win the football game.”
White caught a 7-yard reception on third down on the Falcons next drive. The catch, with two minutes remaining, enabled the Falcons to run out the clock.
Entering the game, White had 17 catches on third down with 15 going for first downs. He was fifth in the NFL with 42 first-down receptions.
“It was tough down the stretch,” White said. “They made some plays. We didn’t execute too well on offense until they scored. Then we went down and put a drive together. We just have to be consistent, instead of one drive where we go down and score and then next one we come out flat.”