With the offense needing a jumpstart and something to slow down Carolina’s pass rush, Falcons running back Michael Turner stepped forward.
He rushed for more than 100 yards for the first time this season and caught the first touchdown pass of his career to help the Falcons defeat the Panthers 30-28 on Sunday at the Georgia Dome.
To go with some new wave, pass-catching Turner, he mixed in some of his vintage work on a 17-yard run where he ran through about five tackles.
“I just kept my legs alive,” Turner said. “They were tackling up high. Nobody was really hitting my legs, so I just kept it alive and kept churning.”
In order to slow down Carolina’s pass rush, the Falcons turned to screen passes.
Turner, not known for his pass catching ability, took one of them 60 yards for a touchdown to put the Falcons up 24-14 early in the third quarter.
“He did a heck of a job of getting into the end zone,” wide receiver Roddy White said. “He ran the ball hard today. He got in the secondary. That’s who he is. If we can get that guy into the secondary, he’ll keep punching those guys and moving the chains.”
Turner saw that he had some good downfield blocks from tight end Tony Gonzalez and White on his screen.
“That’s what kept me going straight down field,” Turner said. “I was thinking about going to the sideline, but I saw Tony making a great block and I didn’t want him to get a holding call, so I wanted to run right off his butt.”
Turner rushed for 103 yards on 13 carries, for a whopping 7.9 average per carry. He caught three passes for 68 yards.
“I just had my opportunities out there today and I took advantage of it,” Turner said.
In nine games against Carolina, Turner has rushed for more than 100 yards six times and has scored 11 touchdowns. He rushed for 139 yards against the Panthers last season on 27 carries.
“I don’t know,” said Turner, when asked about his success against Carolina. “Schemes I guess. I just hope to keep it going.”
Turner was just happy to do his part and help the Falcons pull out a late victory.
“We were talking about it on the sidelines,” Turner said. “We always feel that we have a chance to win. In the Georgia Dome, the fans have been seeing some great finishes lately. Why not add one more.”