Report card: Falcons’ grades for win over Panthers

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White goes up for a long reception over Carolina Panthers safety Haruki Nakamura setting up the winning field goal for a 30-28 victory in the final minute of the game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White goes up for a long reception over Carolina Panthers safety Haruki Nakamura setting up the winning field goal for a 30-28 victory in the final minute of the game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Here are the Falcons’ grades for the 30-28 thrilling win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

B-plus – QUARTERBACKS: Matt Ryan completed 25 of 40 passes for 369 yards and three touchdowns. He finished with a quarterback rating of 107.2 and the Falcons improved to 27-0 when he has a passer rating of more than 100. He doesn’t have an ‘A’ because the last-minute drama would have been unnecessary if hadn’t thrown an interception in the end zone to Haruki Nakamura, whom he would later victimize, in the first quarter.

A-plus — RUNNING BACKS: Michael Turner powered his way to 103 yards on just 13 carries. He had some power runs and Jacquizz Rodgers chipped in with six rushes for 18 yards. Turner had his first career touchdown reception as he accounted for 171 total yards.

A-minus — RECEIVERS: Roddy White put on a show as he caught eight passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns. No catch was bigger than his 59-yarder over Nakamura to kick-start the final drive. Gonzalez (five for 51) was solid as Julio Jones was used primarily as a decoy as his hand heals.

D-minus — OFFENSIVE LINE: Matt Ryan was on the move in the pocket. Carolina’s Charles Johnson did his best Lawrence Taylor impersonation. He was camped out in the backfield when he wasn’t sacking Ryan or putting hits on him. He had 3.5 sacks and five quarterback hits. Some guy name Frank Alexander got in on the action, too. He had 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hits. The Falcons had given up just four sacks entering this game. The unit would have received an F, but they did spring Turner for more than 100 yards and they did hold up on the 59-yard pass play.

B — DEFENSIVE LINE: The defensive line did not adequately put Carolina’s Cam Newton under duress. They had three sacks and just three quarterback hits. They’ll have to ramp up the pass rush in the coming weeks. They were stout against Carolina’s zone-read dives as defensive end John Abraham had five tackles and tackle Jonathan Babineaux had three. Ray Edwards recovered a fumble and had three tackles.

B — LINEBACKERS: This group did most of the heaving lifting against the run. Stephen Nicholas led the team with eight tackles. Akeem Dent and Sean Weatherspoon both had four tackles. Both Nicholas and Weatherspoon had some nice open-field tackles on Cam Newton.

B — DEFENSIVE BACKS: Safeties Thomas DeCoud and William Moore had their toughest games of the season, but finished strong. Dunta Robinson forced a fumble on Steve Smith. Abraham saved Asante Samuel from getting into it scuffle with Steve Smith, when he just picked Samuel up and carried him away. Smith was held to three catches for 52 yards. Also, Robert McClain made his debut as the nickel back, replacing Dominique Franks.

A — SPECIAL TEAMS: Matt Bryant wasn’t around to tell us about the kick after the game, but he’s made nine in a row. Franks nearly broke another punt return for a touchdown, but was tripped up by Jason Phillips after an 18-yard return. Matt Bosher averaged a 42.4 on five punts and placed two inside the Panthers’ 20-yard line.

B — COACHING: The Falcons were running the ball down the Panthers’ throat on their second drive on the game, but started to pass inside the red zone and ended up tossing an interception. The call to get the field goal to cut it to 28-27 was an astute move. It paid off with the later field goal for the win. Sunday’s win against the Panthers moved Mike Smith ahead of Leeman Bennett who posted a 46-41 record between 1977 and 1982. Smith, who is now 47-21, trails only Dan Reeves who went 49-59-1 from 1997-03.

NEXT UP: Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins at 1 p.m. at FedEX Field.

121 comments Add your comment

Michael M.

October 1st, 2012
11:56 am

Heres the ……………….Grade That Matters the Most…………….Falcons are 4 – 0 baby , undefeated, and in first place sitting pretty………………………….

Singletary

October 1st, 2012
11:56 am

Why did we play so well against the AFC West defenses (and offenses) yet looked JV against another NFC “Kudzu” team? Were the AFC teams taught to line up like good little British Redcoats, kneel and shoot instead of the guerrilla techniques of Swamp Fox Francis Marion? I just can’t see why our D was clearly bewildered out there after 3 games against good teams.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

October 1st, 2012
12:00 pm

Shesoleo — That was a close one.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

October 1st, 2012
12:03 pm

Go Falcons! – But when Dunta connects, he knocks the snot out of people!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

October 1st, 2012
12:05 pm

Jimmy Crack — You are probably correct. He should get an A, but I held that interception against him. That kept me from giving him an A.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

October 1st, 2012
12:05 pm

Jimmy Crack — You are probably correct. He should get an A, but I held that interception against him. That kept me from giving him an A.

LOL at The Aints

October 1st, 2012
12:05 pm

Afternoon folks,, Well as I survey the NFL landscape I see the Falcons are 4 and 0 and leading the NFC South and the Aints, Well. They are still the Aints. LOL.

Michael M.

October 1st, 2012
12:08 pm

Panthers had a 10 day stretch to get over the Giants beatdown which helped them out by being the more refreshed team and they came in ready to fight.I underestimated them by posting 31 – 16 Falcons win early on…………..think the Team underestimated them too but the final result is all that will matter in the record books……………………………….

Michael M.

October 1st, 2012
12:10 pm

please don’t get me started laughin at the Caints again today Lol at the Aints…………………

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Whadda Ya Know?

October 1st, 2012
12:16 pm

QB – A
WR – A
RB – A
OL – F (Especially Clabo–he needs to be sat down)
DL – C
LB – C
DB – C+

Overall we played a very conservative defensive game sitting in zone for 95+% of the game. We gave Cam way too much respect and should have had Weatherspoon shadow him all day. LBs were taken out of almost every play, safeties were in hiding today. Tackling still a problem–not wrapping up. You can shoulder tackle a TE or QB of Cam’s size. We needed a tough hard fought game like this, but there are a lot of work to be done on the OL and DL still. I’ll take a winany day of the week though. Good game overall, but the fire in our defense wasn’t there yesterday.

Whadda Ya Know?

October 1st, 2012
12:17 pm

“can’t shoulder tackle” I meant

Whadda Ya Know?

October 1st, 2012
12:19 pm

Coaching – C+ for Smitty and his conservative defensive gameplan. I know that wasn’t Nolan’s doing.

Mediocrity continues...

October 1st, 2012
12:25 pm

Cam Newton’s Endzone dance while losing – F

LOL at The Aints

October 1st, 2012
12:25 pm

I know they are saying its all Goodell’s fault,, Did he suit up yesterday? LOL.

Michael M.

October 1st, 2012
12:26 pm

Michael M.

October 1st, 2012
12:28 pm

yup…………..when the Season is done ……………they will be blaming him for it all…….see em on here already with the excuses………….hehehe

North FLA Falcon

October 1st, 2012
12:40 pm

I think the pass rush was lacking because we were hesitant to full on rush vs. Cam. Not sure if we had a spy on all plays. They really gashed us on some well-called plays. The defense needs some work, folks! But, we got it done. I think the Redskins will be a step down from Carolina. It will be good to torch DeAngelo Hall … Rise Up Falcons!

Michael M.

October 1st, 2012
12:43 pm

Here is something nice I found and I am out………………………………

http://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2012/10/1/3436782/nfl-injury-report-nfc-south-week-4

chucktownfalcon

October 1st, 2012
12:52 pm

Coach Smith has to find some offensive line help. There has to be some free agents that can come in and play OT better than what we displayed on yesterday…

mark

October 1st, 2012
1:00 pm

O line was awful man!! Clabo looked like a last year sam baker and that aint right clabo was suppost to be the good one not anymore charles johnson looked like deacon jones yesterday, d was good at a times and bad on another times to but thats why i call having big cojones for ryan in the deep pass to roddy he stood up and deliver!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

October 1st, 2012
1:12 pm

Marcus – I don’t think so. Both run, but RGII looks to throw first. I’ll check with DC Nolan tomorrow for you.

md

October 1st, 2012
1:14 pm

That D is mostly smoke and mirrors so far……..sure hope defensive line is on the board as the #1 pick next year as this one very seldom gets any pressure on the qb.

Samuel

October 1st, 2012
1:18 pm

The Falcons squeaked out a win, even though sometimes they got sloppy with the ball and the O-lines problems all day. But in reality they should of put this team away. So a win is a win., next up RG3 and the Washington Redskins. I hope the Falcons learn from that game.

North FLA Falcon

October 1st, 2012
1:24 pm

At one point they put in Hawley as a fullback! What was up with that play DLed?

Bill Crim

October 1st, 2012
1:24 pm

Preparation, preparation, preparation! Charlotte came into the game against the Falcons better prepared. That is a tribute to the Panther’s coaching staff. They have a good team. Honestly the Falcons had some luck to win that game, to go with their overall superior talent. There was a sack on Ryan that still amazes me how he managed to not fumble the football.

If the Falcons don’t do something about the O-Line, the season could turn South very quickly. I am glad we won. It was a very exciting win. It’s nice to be way up already in the Division. But there is a lot of football to be played.

bigdawg1

October 1st, 2012
1:37 pm

Okay, let’s go 1-0 this week! I believe the O-line will be ticked at itself, plus the Skins are short two studs on D. RISE UP!

Pete Babcock

October 1st, 2012
1:39 pm

Everyone needs to appreciate what has been accomplished in the TD and Smith era. If Smitty goes 3-38 he will still have a better record than Dan Reeves in Atlanta. Not that Reeves set a high standard but 3-38 and still better? thats remarkable.

Esquire

October 1st, 2012
1:49 pm

Kudo’s to Matt Bryant.

FYI – NFL Network is going to rebroadcast the Falcons/Panthers game Tuesday @ 8pm.

ijonathan

October 1st, 2012
2:03 pm

I think MCR may be banned on DOL’s blog, not sure about JSS and some others…regardless, and interesting article:

http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/8434708/the-numbers-never-lie-ravens-fueled-their-defense

“The Myth of Joe Flacco”

Not sure I completely buy his simple stats…but an interesting read.

Esquire

October 1st, 2012
2:04 pm

Falcons Offense (thru Sunday nights game)
PTS 31.0 (3rd)
YDS 365.2 (15th)
PASS YDS 267.5 (10th)
RUSH YDS 97.8 (18th)

Falcons Defense
PTS 19.0 (9th)
YDS 353.2 (15th)
PASS YDS 207.0 (9th)
RUSH YDS 146.2 (29th) ouch!

Washington
Offense
PTS 30.8 (4th)
YDS 421.8 (3rd)
PASS YDS 246.2 (16th)
RUSH YDS 175.5 (1st) ouch!

Defense
PTS 30.8 (27th)
YDS 415.2 (29th)
PASS YDS 326.2 (31st)
RUSH YDS 89.0 (10th)

warfalcon

October 1st, 2012
2:04 pm

Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins at 1 p.m. at FedEX Field. LETS GO FALCONS ONE GAME ONE WIN AT A TIME.

ijonathan

October 1st, 2012
2:09 pm

Esquire…interesting…Falcons are third in points, only 15th in yards. Has to be due in part to the opportunistic defense.

Starship 1

October 1st, 2012
3:22 pm

Last year, Matt or as some of you called “ole noodle arm” would’nt or probably could’nt have made that throw to Roddy that would give the Dirty Birds the chance to win the game over the Panters. Glad Mr. Ryan decided to enter his training regimin early after last years debacle at the G-men. But that what everyone wanted to happen. Just sayin…

Socal Falcon Fan

October 1st, 2012
3:26 pm

We were lucky to pull this one out. We have to protect the quarterback. 3-0 and on the verge of being considered a serious championship contender, and lay this egg. 4-0 by the skin on our chin.

Matt "CLUTCH" Ryan

October 1st, 2012
3:57 pm

LOL at The Aints

October 1st, 2012
4:03 pm

I think MCR may be banned on DOL’s blog, not sure about JSS and some others…regardless, and interesting article:

If He’s (JSS) not he should be, he brings nothing of interest to the conversation,, Just a angry little man LOL,

Cejay

October 1st, 2012
4:09 pm

Man,… the blogs are void of several resident douche bags lately……

LOL at The Aints

October 1st, 2012
4:19 pm

MCR doesnt bother me,, he’s just a fool,

PMC

October 1st, 2012
5:22 pm

It’s the NFL, every single team has really good players. They don’t ask how at the end of the year, they ask how many.

Falcons 1

October 1st, 2012
5:34 pm

Don’t blame the fans too much for not getting in their seats before kick off. The new security is ridiculous. Left parking lot 40 minutes before game time and got to my seats 15 minutes after one. I have been leaving 30 before game time and making my seats before kick off and most of the time for the players entrance.

The Dome has to something to speed up the lines…

shesoleo

October 1st, 2012
6:56 pm

Thanks D Led no ones ever posted about anything I’ve said on this blog, KUDOS to you sir.

KQuark

October 1st, 2012
6:56 pm

Giving Ryan only a B+ just shows the high expectations we have for him now. How about that arm? Two passes over 60 yards in the air was phenomenal. Ryan had two bad plays all day and several exceptional plays. I would call that an A.

It was good the Falcons got Cam this week because it should help them with RGIII next week. Next week is gonna be a real tough game.

Really?

October 1st, 2012
6:58 pm

Cam ain’t Superman chorus (to the tune of Superman by REM)

cam ain’t
cam ain’t
cam ain’t Superman
and he wil steal anything.

Superman is da Man

October 1st, 2012
6:58 pm

Another Monday, another drunk Falcon arrest, sorry excuses for football players, good ole No Play Ray, he got smoked more times than a fat pig at a BBQ!!!!!!

nuclearjim

October 1st, 2012
8:38 pm

The Saint’s fans are busily blaming various people except the playyers on the NOLA forums for the Saint’s. This includes the mean old NFL for suspending their coach for a) bounties, b) lying repeatedly about bounties. Just to set the record straight there is a troll who posts as nuclearjim on this forum. I am flattered yet baffled. I don’t post enough to be a serious target of trolls. If you care just google Nola forums and check out the Saints forum. In case you want something useful to do then go to their Dining forum. Much easier on the palate.

Delbert D.

October 1st, 2012
8:44 pm

I read where Los Angeles is close to approval on the Saints’ new stadium. The cost is in the same range of the proposed Falcons’ facility, but with less public money.

FalconsFan #13

October 1st, 2012
9:03 pm

O-line will be fine, we just need a few seconds of time and the Falcons Air Force will bring the heat and then the backs will the find cracks and get on track. With all the weapons we have there is someone to pick up the slack on any given play. Every win is a step closer to the prize, go Falcons.

Mora less Petrino

October 1st, 2012
9:30 pm

@Delbert D.: “I read where Los Angeles is close to approval on the Saints’ new stadium.”

I read where LA shot that rumor down real quick. The LA organizers said they want an NFL team!

DiamondDaveincali

October 1st, 2012
9:56 pm

we can’t pass protect when we face a 4-3 D, but we run well against the 4-3. Washington employs the 3-4. lets see if we can run on these guys.