SAN DIEGO — It was a long week for Falcons running back Michael Turner, who played against the San Diego Chargers after being arrested on Tuesday for driving under the influence in Gwinnett County.
But after rushing for 80 yards and scoring a touchdown against his former team on Sunday, Turner was all smiles in the Falcons’ locker room.
“This was probably the best place for me to be, in San Diego,” Turner said. “Getting out here early, I got a chance to see some old friends and just reflected on the good times. It brought back some good memories. This trip couldn’t have come at a better time for me.”
After his arrest, Turner took full responsibility for his actions. He spoke to the media, apologized to the team and fans and said that he planned to let the legal case take its course.
“Michael had a tough week,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “Michael is a very resilient guy. I really don’t want to get in depth about it, but that’s something that we’ve put behind us.”
Turner finally got rolling in the second half of the 27-3 victory. He had a couple of big runs, including a 25-yarder, as the Falcons protected their lead.
In wins over Kansas City and Denver, Turner had rushed for just 74 yards on 28 carries.
Turner capped the scoring with a 7-yard touchdown run.
When Turner scored, he did a tribute to former Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson when he put his hand on his helmet and flipped the ball with his left hand. The move was popularized by Tomlinson when he played for the Chargers and Turner was his backup
“I knew he was at home watching the game, so I gave a little love to him,” Turner said.
The Falcons wanted to attack the Chargers, who dropped to 2-1.
“We knew coming into the game that we had to keep scoring when we had the ball because you didn’t know when they were going to start letting loose,” Turner said. “[Antonio] Gates, Malcolm Floyd and everybody else, they have some weapons on offense. They can come back with ease. We just wanted to keep pushing them and keep putting the pressure on them.”
Turner was not a big part of the 17-play, 96-yard drive in the first half that put the Falcons in control 13-0. He had two carries for 5 yards in the key drive while 89 of the 96 yards came through the passing attack.
Turner’s damage came later.
“We were mixing it up and calling different plays with different personnel groups,” Turner said. “We were confusing them a little bit and we were keeping them off balance.”
Turner was elated the running game did finally account for some positive yards. The team averaged over 4 yards per carry (26 for 119 yards, 4.6 per carry) for the first time this season.
“We want to be an elite team and we want to get the offense rolling,” Turner said. “We can’t put all of the pressure on Matt [Ryan]. We have to give him some help.”
The Falcons have an 11-to-1 turnover ratio through three games.
The Falcons came to appreciate what turnovers can mean in Monday night’ win over Denver, when they converted three early interceptions into just 13 points and had to hold on for a 27-21 victory.
On Sunday, they turned the first two turnovers into touchdowns that help build a 20-0 halftime lead.
“It’s something that we’ve been working on and talking about because we have not done that as efficiently as we would like,” Smith said.
Gonzalez from three-point land
Tight end Tony Gonzalez didn’t do a goal-post dunk following his second-quarter touchdown catch against the Chargers, choosing instead to celebrate with a fade-away jump shot over the crossbar.
“That was after a -play drive and I wasn’t going to do the Vernon Davis thing and get stuck up there,” said Gonzalez, referring to the 49ers tight end who was rejected by the crossbar in a botched dunk attempt two weeks ago against Green Bay.
It was Gonzalez’s 98th career touchdown catch.
Dominique Franks had two punt returns for 34 yards. … The Falcons improved to 6-0 on West Coach road trips under Smith. … The Falcons improved to 26-0 when Ryan has a passer rating of 100 or more. He finished with a rating of 107.8.
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