Texans slow down Falcons’ playoff push, 17-10

Falcons Texans Football

Atlanta recovered the ball after a Falcons defensive tackle Vance Walker (99) grabbed the arm of Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates (13), causing a fumble, in first quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011, in Houston. AP

HOUSTON — The Falcons’ march to the NFL playoffs suffered a setback on Sunday.

Enlarge photo Dave Einsel, AP Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) is grabbed by Houston Texans defensive end Antonio Smith (94) in the second quarter.

T.J. Yates, who played his high school football at Pope High in Marietta, led the Texans to a 17-10 victory over the Falcons before 71,545 fans at Reliant Stadium.

Yates, who made his first NFL start, received ample help from a stout defense and running back Arian Foster. The Falcons chipped in with some overthrown passes, dropped footballs and untimely penalties that helped erase two touchdowns.

“That was not the kind of performance that we want to have, especially at this point in the season,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said.

Yates, a 24-year old rookie, out-played Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who was under duress from Houston’s blitzing 3-4 defense. Yates completed 12 of 25 passes for 188 yards and one touchdown. He had a passer rating of 86.8.

Ryan, who overthrew three long passes and was intercepted twice, has had much better days. He completed 20 of 47 passes for 267 yards and one touchdown. He had a passer rating of 50.6 points.

The Texans improved to 9-3. The Falcons dropped to 7-5, and could find themselves two games behind the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South if the Saints handled the Detroit Lions in the late Sunday night game.

With four games to play, the Falcons will need the Saints to partially collapse in order to defend their NFC South title. Realistically, the Falcons are in a battle for one of the two wildcard slots with Dallas, the New York Giants, Chicago, Detroit and Seattle.

The loss was difficult for the Falcons to accept.

“We feel like this was a game that we should have dominated,” cornerback Dunta Robinson said. “I can honestly say that the only team that beat us this year was the Chicago Bears. The rest of the games, we shot ourselves in the foot, on both sides of the ball.

“If we want to be a dominant football team, we can’t beat ourselves. We are too good of a team to make some of these mistakes.”

With the score tied 10-10, Robinson was one of the culprits.

Linebacker Mike Peterson had intercepted Yates and had an apparent 32-yard touchdown. But, on the other side of the field, Robinson was in a fierce battle for inside position with Houston wide receiver Kevin Walter. Robinson was called for a holding penalty to erase the touchdown.

With a new set of downs, the Texans put together a 19-play drive. Foster capped it with a 1-yard touchdown to put the Texans ahead with just over six minutes to play.

Instead of taking a 17-10 lead on Peterson’s “touchdown” the Falcons were down.

Earlier in the game, on third and 8 from the Falcons 15, Yates was hit by defensive tackle Vance Walker. Safety James Sanders picked up the fumble and returned it for a touchdown. Even though no whistle was blown, players from both teams thought it was an incomplete pass and wandered onto the field, anticipating a Texans’ field goal attempt.

“The ruling on the field was the ball was dislodged from his hand before his hand went forward, so the fumble was ruled,” referee Bill Levy said. None of the players who wandered onto the field interfered with the play. “It was what we call a double foul after a change. What we decided to do is offset those penalties at the spot where the Atlanta player came on the field.”

Defensive end Ray Edwards was announced at the Falcons player who came onto the field, but Levy later announced there were multiple players from each side on the field.

The play was called back and instead of a touchdown, the Falcons were given the ball on their 35. Ryan was intercepted three plays later.

The Falcons started off misfiring.

Ryan missed on deep passes to Roddy White and Julio Jones on their first and third plays from scrimmage. He also was intercepted later on a flea flicker when the Falcons tried to catch the Texans’ safeties creeping up to help in the run game.

Ryan was not pleased with his game. The Texans basically dared him to beat them with some deep passes and he didn’t pull it off.

Smith said the offense played in spurts.

“We had opportunities, specifically early,” Ryan said. “We had some shots designed that were really good. I just missed on them.”

The Texans came up to stop running back Michael Turner and then tried to blitz Ryan into throwing quickly. Turner was held to 44 yards on 14 carries.

White, who had two back-to-back 100-yard games, caught four passes for 51 yards and a touchdowns.

“Our rationale coming into the game was let’s try and hit some of those balls down the field,” Ryan said. “We designed them to get one-on-one matchups with our guys and kind of pushed those safeties off. We just didn’t make enough plays. We didn’t make the plays when we needed to.”

Instead of keeping pace with the Saints and moving to the head of the playoff class, the Falcons find themselves back in the middle of the NFC pack.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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336 comments Add your comment

Michael M.

December 4th, 2011
4:21 pm

Dropped balls and stupid penalties..Falcons deserve to lose against Houston.

jsmuga

December 4th, 2011
4:24 pm

why can’t these receivers catch the ball the most drops in the NFL

BirdFanscout

December 4th, 2011
4:26 pm

Can’t blame Ryan. No one wanted to catch the ball today. TD spent alot on JJ. He has to make that catch at the end of the game!

Hypocrite Hunter

December 4th, 2011
4:27 pm

Boy, that was worth five draft picks.

Texans Slow Down Falcons

December 4th, 2011
4:27 pm

[...] but his pass intend for Julio Jones in the end zone with one second left was incomplete. Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]

go-BRAVOS

December 4th, 2011
4:28 pm

Being a fan of all things ATL/GA is painful. Is GA the place for underachievers or what?? Must be a glutton for punishment.

Pete

December 4th, 2011
4:30 pm

The Falcons are the ultimate pretender. Mike Smith and his “Process” is getting old as they find new ways to beat themselves weekly.
I’d rather watch the Food Channel on TV than to sit thru another humiliating piece of junk as they demonstrate every time they are a “lock”.
Forget ‘em. They’re done.

Steve-O

December 4th, 2011
4:30 pm

Terrible performance by our WR today.

PabloCruz

December 4th, 2011
4:31 pm

With a third string QB and our best receiver hobbled with injury and then out of the game….we still beat the Falcons. They’re not as good as advertised.

SeenThisB4

December 4th, 2011
4:31 pm

LOL! Colston, Moore and Henderson would have caught all those passes. LOL!

Mjbld1b

December 4th, 2011
4:32 pm

Enter your comments here

SeenThisB4

December 4th, 2011
4:32 pm

LOL! Graham, Meachem, and Thomas would have caught all those passes too! LOL!

Boo

December 4th, 2011
4:33 pm

Texans slow down Falcons’ playoff push, 17-10……Playoffs????

Mjbld1b

December 4th, 2011
4:33 pm

Good game the more complete team made more plays. The defense is a beast. Next man up! Go Texans!

falcons are a joke

December 4th, 2011
4:33 pm

Enter your comments here

SeenThisB4

December 4th, 2011
4:34 pm

I say that it will be about 30 to 40 minutes before all the fantasies about WANTING to be a wildcard team will start to get posted.

Baron Beatty

December 4th, 2011
4:34 pm

Gomzo & Douglass are the only receivers who can catch. Roddy butterfingers has rubbed off on Julio the dropmiester – that last pass was right in BOTH OF HIS HANDS and he just let go and dropped it. Another pass hit him right between his numbers that he dropped.
GIVE SNELLING THE BALL! Snelling runs hard & angry – Turner is now another Jamal Anderson in his 3rd year – touch him and he goes down like a baby. Snelling has a good run, they don’t give the ball for another 15 plays.
Smith is being outcoached week after week. He’s lost this team.

lamac66

December 4th, 2011
4:35 pm

What about Ryan missing 3 wide open deep passes huh? Nobody wanna talk about that

falcons are a joke

December 4th, 2011
4:35 pm

And lets include all atl.sports and sportwriters also

I HOPE THAT MORON DOB IS TRADED AT THE WINTER MEETINGS

JONESBORO SLIM

December 4th, 2011
4:35 pm

If Tim Tebow is available at the end of the year get him…somebody who wants to WIN….

C-Dawg Arlington TX

December 4th, 2011
4:35 pm

Just plain A@@ sorry!!!!!! Why do I even root for this team anymore???? Everytime they should be a team they LOSE!!!! Just piss A@@ sorry!!

falcons are a joke

December 4th, 2011
4:36 pm

Playoffs?

Thanks for the laugh for the day

SeenThisB4

December 4th, 2011
4:36 pm

I SawThat1nce where some will prefer to be the wildcard, especially when there is little left to opt for. Question is, is the wildcard too much too hoope for now.

Einstein

December 4th, 2011
4:36 pm

We will still make the playoffs. Saints will beat the Lions tonight and that’ll leave the Lions with 5 losses just like we have…but guess what? We own the tiebreaker over them. So we’re in a win/win situation tonight. Saints lose =good….Saints win = even better because we’re still in the playoffs. The Bears don’t look like they’re going to make it without Cutler. We’re in a good spot.

wayne

December 4th, 2011
4:36 pm

Worst game plan in the history of Falcons. Do what you do best, which is establish the run first. That same attitude cost us the New Orleans game…. Trying to get quick easy touchdowns… Start of overtime against Saints and on the first drive today. Great coaching by Texans staff!

Mr. Panic Button

December 4th, 2011
4:37 pm

Falcons just lack offensive creativity and can’t seem to get out of that zone defense. Pitiful!!!

dood

December 4th, 2011
4:37 pm

Way to represent the Greyhounds! Woop!

falcons are a joke

December 4th, 2011
4:37 pm

I knew all you fair weather falcon fans be hiding now

Hows that hope and change working out for ya?

lamac66

December 4th, 2011
4:38 pm

Julio Jones will be irrelevant as long as your QB is an inaccurate downfield passer. Face that.

Thethehgytmumnyr

December 4th, 2011
4:38 pm

Matt Ryan stinks

JULIO STAY IN BOUNDS

Einstein

December 4th, 2011
4:38 pm

Seenthisb4, nobody WANTS to be a wild-card but you take what you can get in the playoffs. Ask the Cardinals and Packers how that worked out for them. They got to the Super Bowl.

Why are you so obsessed with the Falcons?

MrJoad

December 4th, 2011
4:38 pm

How bout that draft pick! 4 critical errors on the final drive. Wow! Just turn off the tvs now filthy birds, the season is fading, fading, and the Saints are pulling away, again, and proving that we are the class of the division. But keep your beaks up. There’s always next year!

falcons are a joke

December 4th, 2011
4:39 pm

Einstein

make the playoffs really?I hope you do then you can watch MATT NO PLAYOFF WIN RYAN LOSE AGAIN !!!!!!!!!!!

flafalcon

December 4th, 2011
4:39 pm

‘I agree, JJ should have caught that ball, if it hits you in your hands you should catch it, he’s not worth the money or the picks, I dont care what anyone says. We should have worked on defense more in the draft we do just as well without julio in line up and with douglas in. It will take a while to recover from that draft.

Mr. Panic Button

December 4th, 2011
4:40 pm

Falcons are “Fools Gold”. WRs are just sorry. Julio was known to drop balls coming out of college and had the ball in his hands to tie the score. Someone needs to have hims catch at least 200 balls from the jugs machine.

lamac66

December 4th, 2011
4:41 pm

That broadcast on fox was a joke also. Blaming Turner and Jones for the 2 INT’s typical. Payton Manning, JR never makes a mistake but he missed 3 open WR.s downfield.

Joo Joe

December 4th, 2011
4:41 pm

On behalf of the Who Dat Nation let us try and keep the current FALCANTS team intact!

falcons are a joke

December 4th, 2011
4:42 pm

UNC ROLLS GO TJ YATES

1ST EVER START FOR UNC QUARTERBACK IN THE NFL

OVER THE FALCONS NO LESS JUST LIKE THE BRAVES

CONGRATS BIRD !@#$ FANS,YOU MADE HISTORY TODAY JUST LIKE THE BRAVES

Einstein

December 4th, 2011
4:42 pm

Apparently people forget who won the division last season. And yes, we will make the playoffs. Maybe sneak in there, but we’ll get there.

SeenThisB4

December 4th, 2011
4:42 pm

Boy that top 10 falcan’t defense really put a hurting on that third string rookie QB from the ACC.

steven A.

December 4th, 2011
4:42 pm

Has the NBA stated yet? Outplayed by T.J. Yates? Give me Tim Tebow any day!!!
You cannot measure heart my friends…

Run4ever

December 4th, 2011
4:43 pm

There is enough blame to go around for everyone in this loss. I didn’t start watching until right up to half-time, but the Falcons were down 10-3. I especially blame Dunta Robinson for that stupid penalty which negated a great defensive interception and touchdown. That, to me-was the play of the game and would’ve put us in a position to control the clock and the ball down the stretch. I’m sure there were also many more plays that we could’ve, should’ve made.

DMF1120

December 4th, 2011
4:43 pm

This coaching staff has been exposed. Chicago. Green Bay. New Orleans. Houston. All out coached us. We may still sneak into the playoffs (detroit losing tonight keeps us in the last Wild Card spot) but I see another one and done. Too many dropped passes. Dont know how to mix Turner and Snelling. Mental errors leading to penalties. Offensive side of the staff has to be replaced. BVG gets a pass for now because he has been working with one hand tied behind his back but Mularkey, receivers coach, QB, maybe line (though he is working with sub-par material too), all need to be replaced. If Smitty wont do it, then we have to seriously consider a complete change. This is year four of the “process” and we are regressing, not improving.

Tripp Bowden

December 4th, 2011
4:43 pm

I still believe. You haters need to get a life beyond going on blogs and dissing your home team. All is not lost.

falcons are a joke

December 4th, 2011
4:43 pm

Question When will matt ryan win a playoff game?
Answer Neverrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

SeenThisB4

December 4th, 2011
4:44 pm

LSU could beat the falcan’ts….hell, UGA might beat’em as well.

Double Zero Eight

December 4th, 2011
4:45 pm

The Falcons are on a downward spiral.
They peaked last year. Too many mental mistakes
for this to be a pro team. They will lose to
the Panthers and Saints and finish 9 – 7.

Johny Hammersticks

December 4th, 2011
4:45 pm

Falcons free win giveaway,, Under performance of this team is absurd.. Is it time to think about a new coach?? No reason this team should be this bad

falcons are a joke

December 4th, 2011
4:45 pm

Tripp Bowden

Just like santa claus,and the tooth fairy huh?

Sorry dude but the dream is dead

chc4

December 4th, 2011
4:46 pm

Julio needs to benched after that performance. He dropped the hail mary! And loafing back to the huddle costing us 10 seconds? Unacceptable but I doubt Smith will do anything. He has never pulled Roddy after all his drops or personal fouls. No accountability.