Rewind: Ryan’s precision passing pays off

Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards is all smiles walking on to the field after defeating his former team, the Vikings, 24-14 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards is all smiles walking on to the field after defeating his former team, the Vikings, 24-14 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

The game that was

 

The Falcons, for the second outing in a row, did not show the requisite killer-instinct of a championship level team. They built a big lead against the Vikings and then let them hang around before pulling out a harder-than-necessary 24-14 victory.

What we learned

1. The short passing game works. To combat Minnesota’s strong front seven, the Falcons worked their short passing attack and Matt Ryan was lethal. He completed 27 of 34 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns. The Falcons sprinkled in a little of their no-huddle attack to set tempo. Ryan spread the ball around to seven different receivers and would have had his third straight 300-yard game if Julio Jones would have hauled down a long pass and not have interfered with a defender.

2. The goal-line defense is stout. The defense responded when pressed against the wall after Percy Harvin’s record-breaking 104 yard return. It was the longest non-scoring play in league history. Owens had enough energy left after chasing down Harvin to sack Christian Ponder on first down. Safety Thomas DeCoud and middle linebacker Curtis Lofton were credited with stops on second and third down before Sean Weatherspoon shot a gap and dropped Minnesota running back Toby Gerhart short of the goal line.

3. Roddy White rounding into Pro Bowl form. For the second game a row, the Falcons moved White around and ran mostly out of three wide receiver sets with one back and a tight end. He was targeted 13 times and caught 10 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown. On one play that the Falcons ran a lot last season, White went in motion and came storming out of the backfield and into the flat. Ryan passed to White while he was on the move. White turned the play up field for a big gain.

Injury report

Cornerback Kelvin Hayden (dislocated toe) did not play because of injury. Cornerback Brent Grimes (knee) started the game, but left in the second quarter, while cornerback Dunta Robinson left the game, but returned to the action. Linebacker Stephen Nicholas (thigh) left the game in the third quarter and did not return. Wide receiver Roddy White (shoulder) left the game, but returned. No other injuries were reported by the Falcons.

The numbers game

4

The defense came up with four sacks, one short of their season-high of five in the opener against Chicago. Weatherspoon, Owens and defensive end Lawrence Sidbury (two) provided the sack attack.

10

Weatherspoon led the defense with a team-high 10 tackles, including a potential game-saver on a fourth-and-goal from the 1 in the fourth quarter.

50.4

Punter Matt Bosher’s averaged on five punts.

174

Tight end Tony Gonzalez caught nine passes for 69 yards. He has caught at least one pass in 174 straight games.

79

White has caught a pass in 79 straight games.

Sound bite

“When you get up, you definitely want to keep your foot on their throats.”

–Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon on the Falcons lack of a killer’s instinct.

Loose ends

Harry Douglas’ 27-yard touchdown catch was the Falcons longest play from scrimmage. . . Running back Michael Turner was held to 60 yards on 19 carries. . . The Falcons did not create a turnover for the second time in their last three games. . . Atlanta’s defense held the Vikings to 64 yards rushing on 24 carries. The Falcons are allowing 83.5 rushing yards per game, which ranks second in the league behind San Francisco (75.5).

What’s next

The Falcons (7-4) will face the Houston Texans (8-3) at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Reliant Stadium. This will be just the third meeting between the two teams. The series is tied at 1-1.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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185 comments Add your comment

PMC

November 28th, 2011
9:51 am

I’ve noticed that they are really working the middle of the field a lot more in the last couple of games. It is helping Ryan to play to his strengths.

Season Ticker Holder

November 28th, 2011
9:52 am

FL Falcon

November 28th, 2011
9:53 am

Season Ticker Holder

November 28th, 2011
9:59 am

The Falcons should continue to play to Matt Ryan’s ability to throw accurate short passes. Also, the defense need to stay in the attack mode when the falcons have the lead. Allowing weak opponents to comeback will eventually cost the falcons a game.

CGD..

November 28th, 2011
10:00 am

Big game tonight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

CGD..

November 28th, 2011
10:01 am

Owens gets the Gameball for sure!

CGD..

November 28th, 2011
10:05 am

Lets see Ryan’s accuracy against a contender?

Wasn’t his QBR in the pitiful 40’s against Greenbays 30th ranked passing defense?

His game is fools gold..The Meltdowns coming…..Playoffs?

mountain_jim

November 28th, 2011
10:12 am

(from last blog)
Now that we know that Mike Smith decides when to run no-huddle and when to let Mularkey call the plays, it’s all on Smith.
Some one needs to get him on record as to why he keeps trying to throw leads away in the 3rd quarter. Look at stats for all games this season, we are outscored in the 3rd by many points.

This is on Smith. DLed will not address this, but Jeff already has. Mark was supporting going conservative with the lead in the in-game blog after the first 2 to uncreative and ineffective dive plays up the middle to start the 3rd, where-as I told him in the blog this was going to come back and bite us as it has all season long.

Falcons came a few plays from losing that game, and it would have been Smith’s fault for going so conservative and taking the play-calling out of Ryan’s hands. Again!

In consistent BloGGer

November 28th, 2011
10:15 am

I still think they are too in consistent.

CGD..

November 28th, 2011
10:17 am

Bobby Cox Jr…..

Trainwreck

November 28th, 2011
10:28 am

Hey a win is a win

CGD..

November 28th, 2011
10:46 am

A struggle to beat an 2-9 team? Think winning a playoff game with this staff and Ryan are going to be easier your delusional…..

CGD..

November 28th, 2011
10:52 am

Up next 8-3 Houston on the road! Uh Oh! I would not be surprised if the Falcons lose this one.

Houston by 3?

D man

November 28th, 2011
10:57 am

I predicted a 12 & 4 record at the beginning of the season. After we started 2 & 3 I had some doubts but now with our remaining schedule, 12 & 4 isn’t out of reach. We have won 5 out of 6 and are on a roll. This team still isn’t clicking but things look like they are slowly coming together and we will peak near the end of the playoffs and do well. We will be favored in 4 out of the last 5 games. We will beat the Saints in NO for payback. Should have won in ATL. One week at a time. Houston is down to the 3rd string QB. Time to pressure the QB and catch those intercetions… Go FALCONS!!! :)

Samantha

November 28th, 2011
11:09 am

Matt Ryan is horrible. He is NOT a good quarterback. It’s amazing to me how the Failcons fans are so excited because they won the game yesterday. Beating the Vikings is not a big deal. Everybody knows that they are not doing well this season! The fact still remains that they lost to the New Orleans Saints 2 weeks ago and they will lose to them again on Dec. 26th! hahahahahahaha! :)

DC Falcon (Rupe)

November 28th, 2011
11:09 am

@ mountain_jim
Good observation. Better performance in the third quarter of games is going to be necessary going down the stretch. It’s a sign that the staff needs to do a better job with half time offensive adjustments.

If they get that fixed……..watch out for GREAT RESULTS.

Samantha

November 28th, 2011
11:10 am

Trust…Houston will beat the FAILcons hands down! hahahahahaha! GEAUX SAINTS! :)

P B Orr

November 28th, 2011
11:15 am

I’m sick of hearing “the team isn’t clicking”. The team was clicking like a basement full of crickets yesterday. The Vikings are a good team that has had a lot of bad bounces and injury problems. Coming into the game, the led or were tied at the half in 6 of 10 games. It’s the NFL, any team can beat any other team. The Vikings had no turnovers, only a few penalties, stuffed the run, and in general played a creditable game. Even so, the Falcons won with relative ease. I think this was the best victory of the season and all the whiners complaining that we are not the 11-0 Packers are just wasting their time watching football.

double b

November 28th, 2011
11:19 am

cgd wtf do u do, do u get paid to hate on atlanta sports, u must be really good at what u do to be so critical

double b

November 28th, 2011
11:21 am

Samantha–we have a team not just a qb unlike the aints u had ur time to shine now move on–dec 26th is goin to be a rough one for u

PMC

November 28th, 2011
11:36 am

Matt Ryan was freaking AWESOME last sunday 3TD’s 24 of 36 for 270 yards.

What's Important

November 28th, 2011
11:49 am

Samantha, when you learn something about football you can speak. Until then, go play in your sandbox.

Supes

November 28th, 2011
11:50 am

I see Samantha the TROLL is out early…I suggest you worry about your own team…they’ll have their hands full with the New York Giants tonight!

Supes

November 28th, 2011
11:52 am

One more thing…the Falcons aren’t losing to THE TYLER YATES Houston Texans this Sunday. Yes the same Tyler Yates who couldn’t beat ACC powerhouses on regular basis (if you are wondering who he is…mid tier college QB)

CGD..

November 28th, 2011
11:55 am

double d, (like d’s not b’s lol!), just being real…

They have to start winning the money games to prove they are real contenders not pretenders..

That is all…

old man

November 28th, 2011
12:07 pm

Samantha:

Wiggle your nose, work some magic, and say something intelligent. For Chrisake, Ryan has a 128 rating and haters are still on here peddling their horse manure. What’s his QB rating when we play elite teams? It’s lower, Einstein. What’s his QB rating in the no-huddle, when he’s calling the plays? I would love to see that figure. It’s got to be astronomical.

The coaches need to stop justifying their pay and do what’s best for the team–let the Ryan run no-huddle all the time–100%. (By the way, if in the no-huddle system we can work in extra quick “flash” audibles that allow us to snap on the first count within seconds of coming to the line, there would be mass confusion in opposing defenses.) Let Ryan figure it all out on the field. Heck, give him an “off” switch for the audio in his helmet. When he is at the line, staring down the defense, calling the audibles, it’s almost like icing a field goal kicker. The defense is put into a real guessing game, and lately they have been guessing wrong.

When you think about it, you have maybe a total of 20 minutes of actual play in a 3 hour game. Take out 45 minutes for halftime and commercials, and the down time between plays accounts for almost 2 hours, so why waste that time? The no-huddle allows us to maximize what we get out of those two hours. It lets Ryan check out the defense for several seconds, pick a play, change the play, freeze the personnel on the field for the defense, and psychologically tells the defense that we are in complete control of what happens on each play. Our QB does not excel at everything, but he does excel at this, so we need to make the no-huddle our default system.

Karl

November 28th, 2011
12:07 pm

I think we should give the Saints fans a break – they have proven time and time again that this is the most important thing in their lives. They have so little else, let’s at least give them something to cheer about:)

old man

November 28th, 2011
12:08 pm

Oh, Samantha’s a Saints fan. If I had known, I would not have bothered with my last post. Sorry, guys.

PMC

November 28th, 2011
12:12 pm

Samantha’s still shocked and the stink coming off that loss to the St Louis Lambs.

The Saint’s wet the bed with the best of them.

Birdman Dave

November 28th, 2011
12:17 pm

Still think Owens was responsible for two Viking scores. We would be better off to play ten instead of eleven!

Truth Hurts

November 28th, 2011
12:18 pm

@Samantha EAD

D man

November 28th, 2011
12:20 pm

Falcons will dominate the Saints in December.

Michael M.

November 28th, 2011
12:23 pm

Said it many times saying again…………I take Matt Ryan over any other Quarterback in the NFL !

Years from now you all will see why !

Very big game tonight for either of the two Teams playing! Really don’t matter which team wins because either way its……..advantage to the Falcons !

Take this one on the chin Aints Fanatics ! Maybe both QB’s will get sacked and sacked again til someone clobbers both of them and they tote em off the field on a gurney !

Put that in your pipe and smoke on it !

mountain_jim

November 28th, 2011
12:29 pm

Mike Smith should be asked to address this:

Falcons have been outscored in the 3rd quarter in 8 out of 11 games, by a net difference for all 11 games of 59 points. Only against the Colts and Tenn did the falcons outscore opponents in the 3rd.

It’s time to wake up and stop sitting on leads running up the middle on 1st and 2nd downs in the 3rd, and stop calling such obvious running plays when running. Earlier yesterday,the draws and counters to Turner were working well. In the 3rd though, Mularkey gets control and goes back to running straight dives up the middle to kill the first 2 drives and combined with the defense going passing kills all the momentum.

If Minn had had the sense to challange that non-TD they might have won that game, and torpedoed the season’s playoff chances.

mountain_jim

November 28th, 2011
12:30 pm

going passive – meant to say

Sterling

November 28th, 2011
12:35 pm

i wouldnt say a 10 point lead is struggling. @CGD go 2 H E L L

DJ Sniper

November 28th, 2011
12:40 pm

Let’s not forget that the Viking played the Packers very close in their first meeting of the season.

As for us, Smitty needs to realize that when you dominate an opponent in the first half, you keep your foot on their necks in the second half and don’t let them come up for air. I’ve been highly cricital of Mike Mularkey’s play calling, but now we know that Smitty is responsible for whether or not Matt Ryan goes into the no huddle. The onus is on him to keep things flowing.

Michael M.

November 28th, 2011
12:49 pm

Atlanta never struggled in that game except on offense in the 3rd quarter..either Atlanta was coasting in the 3rd quarter or the Vikings saw something that their defense picked up on and shut Atlanta down for awhile but into the 4th all was well.
These Teams with losing records now will most likely play all out against Atlanta for they will have nothing to lose except to knock Atlanta out of a playoff shot. Same can be said for any team with a shot in the playoffs. No Team out there with a winning record is off the hot seat the rest of this year.
A team with a losing record can pull out all the stops and go for it on 4th down on their on 20 to get a yard for a first down and to move the chains because if they lose they have nothing really to lose , but just a chance of knocking a team out of a shot at the playoffs.
No easy games left for Atlanta,New Orleans or anyone else !

double b

November 28th, 2011
12:54 pm

been a fan of the falcons a long time and at least we r competitive and have a shot each year with this crew, cgd u just hate and hate nothing but negativivty here a positve fact for u which im sure u will be able to MISCONSTRUE in some way, but the pass defense might not be there quite yet but the run d is # 2 in the league and sam baker has been replaced by someone who is getn it done, matt ryan is becoming better and better and the dropped passes happen but that can be fixed i’ve seen the best drop passes, but ill take douglas and gonzalez and white and julio just as a bonus, its not like they didnt beat the saints and ravens last year and should have beaten the aints this year but they will have another shot, not everyones greenbay, but once they get in anything can happen its sports

Michael M.

November 28th, 2011
1:00 pm

Well Said ! ! ! ! !

CGD…the greyhound bus is waiting for yah ! ouchhhhhh !

Steve

November 28th, 2011
1:04 pm

Falcons owe this victory to Owens. Chasing down Harbin saved Atlanta the victory.

DKN

November 28th, 2011
1:05 pm

D Led

Please elaborate more “The Falcons, for the second outing in a row, did not show the requisite killer-instinct of a championship level team.”

The Packers are undefeated and have only beaten 3 teams by more than 14 points.

The Falcons covered the point spread easliy and are fine. This is the NFL……

NATIVEBIRD

November 28th, 2011
1:07 pm

Good win for the Falcons! I thought our offense looked good for the most part. Turner needs to run to daylight more than he does. Mularkey is doing a better job of getting Quizz and Snelling involved. Also, he is calling a more UNPREDICTABLE game. Please keep it up. Julio looked rusty. Let’s keep trying to get the ball to him, we will need him down the stretch.

OK, Chris Owens. YOU BETTER BE GLAD YOU WERE ABLE TO GET HARVIN! You were responsible for at least ONE touchdown if not both of them!!! Knock the ball down, intercept it, but don’t miss it and let the receiver catch it for a Touchdown on you AGAIN! At least I saw your team mates get in your face and chew you out. You gotta make that play! On the second TD, the TV announcer said, “I don’t know how Chris Owens does not get to the ball, …… definitely should have intercepted that ball!” I have always said thaat Owens is great for run support and special teams, but his cover skills are horrible. We can’t have those type mistakes in close games and expect to win. CO STILL SCARES ME……. I hope Grimes is OK and Hayden can come back.

The other problem that we have is that Franks isn’t any better from what I saw yesterday. He made some mental errors on special teams, but at least he didn’t give up any big plays, unless he was out of place on the first touchdown. We need CB help! BVG called some bonehead formations that I think ALSO contributed to the first touchdown.

I am glad that we won but I worry about our secondary and our DC’s capacity to put the right people on the field and make the right calls.

goodgod

November 28th, 2011
1:07 pm

the falcon play well against struggling teams then collape like melty ryan when a contender is on the other side. our qb can lead us to the playoff but that’s all. no wonder we don’t repect around the lead. yes matt is leathal throwing those short passes, he is after all, the king of the short passes and the guru of the three and out. superbowl, forget it.

Keith

November 28th, 2011
1:08 pm

wow I can’t believe the haters on here, Mountian Jim, that WAS not a TD, Harvins progress was stopped the whistle had blown, which caused the defense to relax which allowed Harvin to reach the endzone. SInce you mentioned blown calls how about the NO CALL the ref’s did not make on the punt when the vik’s pushed Owens into the ball? it’s all part of the game unforunately they miss some and they get some wrong. bottom line the Falcons won UGLY. correct me if I’m worng but it seem the Packers were able to win “UGLY” last year and finally put the process togehter just before the playoffs!! soooo quit-yer-bitchin this team is playing better and yes they should win in Houston!! go Falcons

mke

November 28th, 2011
1:25 pm

That was a big win against a team that has won two games all season. As long as we play teams with losing records we should be fine.

CGD..

November 28th, 2011
1:27 pm

double b, not hating just not impressed with these pretenders from the Coaching staff to the QB to the Swiss cheese Secondary…….

Thanks Mike, back @ cha! lol

6 weeks ta go…….

This is the number thats loud and clear: 2-5 last 7 against the contenders…

That is all..

FalconsGirl

November 28th, 2011
1:29 pm

I’m just happy Chris Owens made up for all the crap he has pulled all season long! As for tonight goes, I’m a Giants fan!! #BEATTHEAINTS

Samuel

November 28th, 2011
1:30 pm

Ryan threw a couple of accurate deep ball passes, but unfortunately Roddy and Julio didn’t come up with them. Chris Owens should of had an interception, he’s got to make that play. But- he was able to redeems himself by makings plays that really counted. I thought the offensive line played well especially Svitek, it will be hard for Baker to get his job back. Julio must have been a decoy because Ryan never went back to him after the interference call. Over all solid game, but the Falcons still haven’t put the complete game together. Hopefully it can start against the Texans….

CGD..

November 28th, 2011
1:31 pm

Owens gets the game ball! He saved a win…