GAME STORY: Falcons dismantle Jaguars, 41-14

Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert (11) has been sacked 4th-most in the NFL this season. Jason Getz / jgetz@ajc.com

Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert (11) has been sacked 4th-most in the NFL this season. Jason Getz / jgetz@ajc.com

This time, with the bright national TV lights shining on them, the Falcons didn’t mess around with a team holding a losing record.

After sleepwalking for a half against Carolina on the previous Sunday in a network game, they pounced on the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars and didn’t let up, winning 41-14 on Thursday night before 68,856 at the Georgia Dome and an NFL Network audience.

“Playing on a short week in the NFL is never an easy proposition,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “But I really felt like out team handled it very well. I think it showed the way that they worked in the ball game. We started fast and I thought that we playe well for most of the ball game.”

Quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones put on a passing clinic, and the defense, led by veteran defensive end John Abraham, throttled the Jaguars’ offense and its rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

White finished with 10 catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns. The had five pass plays of 20 yards or more — their definition of an explosive play — to gave them 51 for the season. The teams has 60 explosive, including nine runs of 20 yard of more. Two of the explosive plays went for touchdowns.

“When you take shots down the field, you just have to keep taking them,” Ryan said. “It’s like a shooter in basketball. Shooters keep shooting. In order to make it, you have to take those chances. They come in spurts.”

Through 13 games, they have 46 pass plays of 20 yards or more, which ranks ninth overall in the league. Quarterback Matt Ryan has eight plays that have gone for 40 yards or more, which ranks him tied for eighth in the league.

 

The victory clinched the Falcons’ fourth consecutive winning season under head coach Mike Smith. Before he was hired in January of 2008, the Falcons never had back-to-back winning seasons.

Counting the second-half points the Falcons (9-5) needed to beat the Panthers 31-23, the Falcons scored 65 unanswered points over the two games. The Jaguars (4-10) ended that string, by returning a blocked punt for a touchdown with 2:12 to make it 41-7.

The Falcons, who don’t play again until they face the New Orleans Saints in a Monday night game on Dec. 26, can sit back and watch the next two Sundays and their playoff possibilities unfold. They entered week 15 as the No. 5 seed.

They could still catch the Saints (10-3) to win the NFC South, but it’s not likely. New Orleans plays the faltering Minnesota Vikings (2-11) on Sunday and needs one win to wrap up the division.

Realistically, the Falcons are in a battle for one of the wild-card spots with Detroit (8-5), Chicago (7-6), New York Gaints (7-6) and Dallas (7-6).

Ryan was razor sharp as he completed 19 of 26 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns in less than three quarters of action. He finished with a passer rating of 137.7, the second-highest rating of his career. He had a 138.4 passer rating in a 24-0 victory over the Oakland Raiders as a rookie.

The Atlanta offense jumped all over the Jaguars, marching 75 yards in seven plays to score the first time. Ryan tossed a short pass to Jones, who raced 29 yards through the Jacksonville secondary for the touchdown.

Ryan completed 4 of 4 passes for 57 yards during the drive and his pass to Jones was the 90th touchdown pass of his career. The touchdown pass also extended his string of throwing at least one touchdown pass to 13 games. He’s thrown at least one touchdown pass in 28 of the Falcons’ last 29 games.

When the Falcons defense took the field for the first time, Abraham sacked Gabbert on first down, setting the tone.

Abraham earlier said he missed three sack opportunities against Houston and Carolina. He took it out on Jacksonville’s line. Rookie Cameron Bradfield had a particularly tough time with Abraham and his backup, Kroy Biermann.

Abraham finished with three and half sacks, the second-best, single-game total of his career.

His biggest sack came early in the third quarter. On Jacksonville’s first possession of the second half, Abraham taught the Jaguars’ rookie quarterback a little something about ball security. He put a spin move on Bradfield, sacked and stripped Gabbert. Defensive end Corey Peters scooped up the loose ball and ran it in for a 13-yard touchdown.

“In the middle of the year I was kind of off because I was injured,” Abraham said. “I was having a slow year. Right now, I’m feeling 100 percent. My groin is back where it needs to be and I think I’m showing it now on the field.”

The Falcons blew the game open in the second quarter. After linebacker Sean Weatherspoon recovered a fumbled punt, Michael Turner bowled into the end zone untouched from 5 yards out to make it 17-0.

White added a 6-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.

Abraham sacked Gabbert and forced a fumble with under a minute left to halftime, and Curtis Lofton hustled to recover the ball. That set up a 31-yard field goal by Matt Bryant.

“As a defense, you want to get turnovers,” Lofton said. “You want to get our offense back out of the field as mush as possible. That’s what we did today. Abe showed up big for us. They couldn’t stop him. They really couldn’t stop the defensive line today.”

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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30 comments Add your comment

Michael M.

December 16th, 2011
12:31 am

This Team is ready D-led !

charles

December 16th, 2011
1:22 am

trademark

December 16th, 2011
3:40 am

“They could still catch the Saints (10-3) to win the NFC South, but it’s not likely. New Orleans plays the faltering Minnesota Vikings (2-11) on Sunday and needs one win to wrap up the division.”

DOL…damn man, the Saints DO NOT LOCK UP THE DIVISION WITH ONE WIN. IF they beat Minnesota and lose out (Our very own Atlanta Falcons and Carolina), the Falcons take it. Try using the ESPN playoff machine, it’s pretty cool. :)

Or maybe you can edit that statement…maybe you meant….

They could still catch the Saints (10-3) to win the NFC South, but it’s not likely. New Orleans plays the faltering Minnesota Vikings (2-11) on Sunday and WITH A WIN THERE, THEY ONLY NEED ONE MORE win to wrap up the division.

See?

Michael M.

December 16th, 2011
6:53 am

Falcons will kick the Saints butts in New Orleans . The Falcons still haven’t Peaked to the best they can play yet. They are not after the South Title………..they want it all !

12 men in the huddle

December 16th, 2011
7:13 am

Falcons are playing much better recently….but they haven’t beaten anybody recently with a winning record….so until they do, let’s not get too excited. Last night would have been an almost perfect game but having that punt blocked was a black mark that doesn’t bode well going into the playoffs! And why were most of our starters still in the game with the score 41-0? We can ill afford a serious injury to any of our guys! It only takes one to ruin or even end your season….Ryan, Turner and all all 1st string receivers should have been pulled way before the end of the 3rd quarter!

JONESBORO SLIM

December 16th, 2011
7:17 am

Answer this quesition….Who will return next season?.. Mularkey or Van Gorder or both or for matter neither?…let me know people……

JONESBORO SLIM

December 16th, 2011
7:55 am

I think Mularkey wanted to make an impression on the Jags brass for his bid for the head coach position ….what do you think

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]

who dat #15

December 16th, 2011
10:43 am

Who Dat yall anit doing nothing ,we a Super Bowl caliber team yall just a level team .We might beat yall worse than LSU beat Georgia ,SEC champs ,National Champs ,NFL Champs ,Louisiana run Football in the south .The Boot kicks GA in the Butt

Michael Smith

December 16th, 2011
11:21 am

Michael .M you are a moron. I thought you are better than that. Seriously ?

Every time it’s same story..you beat a weak, hapless team and you start celebrating. Only to come crashing down to earth when you play a good team.

Enjoy while you can after all thats what your team can do. Beat a mediocre team.

DJ Sniper

December 16th, 2011
11:58 am

12 Men, the Falcons have beaten the Titans and Lions. Both of those teams have winning records.

who dat dude

December 16th, 2011
12:08 pm

You beat a 4 win team with some guy name Blaine at home…wow…let’s shut the city down and have a tiker tape parade…p.s. WHO DAT!!! SEE YOU ON THE 26TH.

Michael Smith

December 16th, 2011
12:15 pm

Falcons can’t beat good team neither can they go and beat any team on the road.

Wasn’t it last week that falcons lost to Texans with a 3rd string QB on the road. what happened to this explosive (?) offense then ?

In realty, falcons are just average team at the best.

Michael Smith

December 16th, 2011
12:16 pm

Even is we assume that falcons get a wild-card berth and play a team on the road.
It will be first round exit.

Michael M.

December 16th, 2011
3:49 pm

@ Michael Smith…..Atlanta will beat your Saints.yah jerk !

ShempHoward

December 16th, 2011
4:55 pm

Now we all know what happens when the Falcons play great football for 60 minutes. T-H-E-Y B-L-O-W T-E-A-M-S O-U-T O-F T-H-E
B-U-I-L-D-I-N-G.

Michael Smith

December 16th, 2011
5:59 pm

Michael. M thats what you said last time when saints came to bird nest. So what makes you think you can come and beat us in our turf.

Michael M.

December 16th, 2011
6:24 pm

@ Michael Smith…..where have you been the past couple of weeks……….hiding in a mancave ( Hole ) somewhere ? Lets see if your team can score alot against the Vikings this Sunday and you figure it out .

Abe

December 17th, 2011
11:24 am

Hey Brees

you better watch out
you better not cry
you better not pout
im tellin you why
ABRAHAM IS COMING TO TOWN…..

RISE UP……

ohhhhYEAH

December 17th, 2011
11:57 am

@ micheal S

uh…..maybe the fact that we did it last year? or maybe the fact that had roddy not dropped a slant in the endzone with 4 seconds to go in the game we would have already beaten you once this year? i mean….take your pick

Wendell

December 17th, 2011
12:37 pm

12 men – you must be a product of the New Orleans public school system with that kind of math.

Now beat it loser.

Today’s Links | 72ent

December 17th, 2011
12:49 pm

[...] SouthESPN (blog)Atlanta Falcons Boost NFL Playoff Chances With 41-14 Victory Over JaguarsBloombergAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)all 1,172 news [...]

Pachoo

December 17th, 2011
1:55 pm

DLed, you need to fact check better. The Saints DO NOT win the division with just one more win. If they beat the Vikings this week they are still not guaranteed the NFC South title. If the Saints lose their last two games, vs the Falcons and vs the Panthers, and we beat the Saints and the Bucs then we win the NFC South, not the Saints.

WhoDat4Eva

December 17th, 2011
7:05 pm

Get ready to get your heart broken on 12-26-11 Failcants fans:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsdNwc8I-L0

And don’t forget about big Jimmy and and lil big man Sproles.

Sorry folks maybe next year? Lol as if…….hahahahaha

12 men in the huddle

December 18th, 2011
9:38 am

“12 Men, the Falcons have beaten the Titans and Lions. Both of those teams have winning records.”

I said “recently!” Besides, both of those teams are border line .500 teams with major weaknesses. Hey, I’m a big Falcon booster! Don’t get me wrong. But we’ve beaten more NFL patsies than any one else! But things look to be improving. Plus, with 10 days to prepare for NO we won’t have any excuses not to give them a run for there money! Were making the playoffs, make no mistake about that. Can we move to the second round? That depends on whether or not we can beat the Giants or Cowboys on the road!

Falcon Fan

December 18th, 2011
11:44 am

I think you guys will miss Mularkey when he’s gone.

Nola4Life

December 18th, 2011
12:12 pm

Falcons haven’t been tested yet…falcons beat 2 lowly teams in panthers and jags. Falcons are 2-4 against teams above 500 and falcon fans are delusional to believe they are like packers of last year at this time of season…unbelievable!….now the real test comes monday nite against a real football team that has won 5 straight games…Coach Smitty has 10 days to game plan the Saints…he’s 3-9 vs. Saints…I do expect falcons to play hard, but will fall short and saints win division with Brees breaking Dan Marino’s passing record…Geaux Saints

bigdave

December 18th, 2011
2:03 pm

You guys seem to forget these Jags beat the pants off the Ravens a few weeks ago and have one of the highest rated defenses in the league. So, here we go gain…Falcons get NO RESPECT…NOBODY gives them a chance, after last year when they were the #1 seed….TIME TO ROCK, FALCONS!!! YOU GUYS actually have the most EXPLOSIVE TEAM in the league now that JULIO is well and catching the ball! So, get rid of Mularkey, he is not creative at all, and the whackjob VanGorder can’t even spell blitz, musch less design one…when he does…straight up the middle, hey didle didle, go around the end fool! I gotta mention still his silly PREVENT-THE-WIN DEFENSE….HEY, WATCH EVERY TEAM THAT RUSHES THREE GET B U R N E D !! Wonder why the BIRDS lost to a third string QB and NEWTON has a field day against them…..VAN GORDER!!! THATS WHY!! HEY STUPID, EVER HEAR OF AN ATTACKING DEFENSE?! RUSH THE QB!!! AFRAID OF GETTING BURNED? HAVE YOU WATCHED YOUR FILMS BOZO? The real deal is the FALCONS are set up to make a huge RUN, there is NO ONE they can not beat, including the Pack, look at the old films when they went north and beat the crap outta them!! I trust this team on the road!!! They will win every game…..IF THEY WANT TOO! THIS GAME IS ALL ABOUT HEART! HOW DID YOU GUYS LIKE BEING THE ONES ON THE SET AFTER THE JAG GAME? FUN HUH? WELL….ITS YOURS FOR THE TAKING…IF YOU DO NOT GET IT, ITS BECAUSE YOU DID NOT WANT IT…YOU ACTUALLY HAVE THE BEST “TEAM” IN THE LEAGUE!! NOW GO OUT AND SHOW IT!

ShempHoward

December 19th, 2011
12:34 pm

The Falcons played (count them) one complete 60-minute game this season and already people are beginning to crown them superbowl champions. Before the Falcons can become superbowl champions they must fix 10 things:

#1: CONSERVATISM–TEAM MUST PLAY A MORE WIDE-OPEN, RISK TAKING OFFENSE THAT REWARDS YOU FOR HARD WORK.
#2: FALCONS SHOULD RUN THEIR OFFENSE IN VIRTUALLY A 100% NO-HUDDLE OFFENSE PRIMARILY BECAUSE IT PRODUCES MORE BALANCE ON OFFENSE AND BETTER SCORING.
#3: FALCONS MUST USE THEIR BLITZ PACKAGES MORE, SEND TALENTED SACK STARS LIKE JOHN ABRAHAM–BY TURNING HIM LOOSE MORE TO ATTACK THE QB
#4: FALCONS WILL NEED TO DIVERSIFY MORE ON OFFENSE BY USING SNELLING AND DOUGLAS MORE–Snelling should be used on sweeps and screens and douglas should be used more on third downs–since he always seems to get enough yardage to move the first-down chains.
#5: Turner should be given more rest and snelling should split time with Turner in the backfield.
#6: Falcons should go-for-it more on fourth and 1s when they are in opponents territory because if their defense is playing as well as its capable–going for it may prove to be a better choice than giving up an opportunity to score.
#7: Falcons should be using more formations on defense–similar to what Dallas did (under coach tom landry) when dallas used to use many defensive looks (so that if the blitz is there, then take it).
#8: Weems needs to field more kickoff and punt returns since he virtually has a chance to break one (LONG TO THE HOUSE) literally every time he touches the ball.
#9: The Falcons MUST become more EXPLOSIVE on offense–using multiple crossing routes for their wideouts and this should leave a receiver WIDE OPEN on virtually every play; and finally
#10: The Falcons must concentrate on playing BETTER AND MORE FEROCIOUSLY against better or faster and elite teams like the Eagles, Patriots, Saints and Packers.
If the Falcons can make the appopriate adjustments, they should be one this years years superbowl participants when the big game comes up.

whodat1

December 19th, 2011
3:17 pm

Dunta Robinson, this is directed at you. Didn’t your Mother teach you to be humble? Your antics and demeaning of the WRs of Jacksonville was nothing more than a thuggish act that showed a lack of maturity. The last time I checked, professional athletes are the face of the organization that employs them. By the falcons not taking steps to reprimand you, means that they accept your bahavior. I am not surprised. Well, payback will come Monday night, when you will get torched by Drew Brees and his stable of all Pro receivers. Too late to get humble now Dunta. Who Dat.