Atlanta Falcons improve to 5-0 for first time in team history

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is hit by Atlanta Falcons defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi (96) and defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (95) during the second half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is hit by Atlanta Falcons defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi (96) and defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (95) during the second half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

LANDOVER, Md. — Most of the current Falcons aren’t really into historical relevance.

But center Todd McClure, who’s been with the team since 1999, can appreciate how far the franchise has come.

With a less-than-stellar 24-17 victory over the Washington Redskins on a rainy Sunday, the Falcons reached the 5-0 mark to open the season for the first time since they began play in 1966.

“This,” McClure said, “is pretty special.”

It was just a road win in October, but somewhere old Norb Hecker and other ghosts of Falcons’ hard-luck past were smiling.

“The best thing about it is that we are not playing our best football and we’re 5-0,” McClure said. “This team is much better than what we’ve played thus far. It’s easy to make corrections when you’re 5-0. We have a lot of room for improvement.”

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who leaned heavily on tight end Tony Gonzalez all day, sees a season with an industrious start but also with 11 games yet to play.

“It is great start for us. It really is,” Ryan said, who threw for 345 yards (34-of-52) but had an interception returned for a touchdown. “At this point you can’t really worry about what is going on in the history of our organization, but we have put ourselves right where we need to be five games into it.”

The Falcons previously had 4-0 starts in 2004 and 1986. In 2004, the team went on to play in the NFC title game. In 1986, they struggled and finished 7-8-1.

For the second straight Sunday, the Falcons needed a fourth-quarter rally to pull out the victory. The Redskins, who dropped to 2-3, may have lost their star rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III to the league’s concussion protocol program, courtesy of a big thump in the third quarter from Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.

The Falcons trailed 10-7 entering the fourth quarter but wide receiver Julio Jones put them ahead after hauling down an 18-yard touchdown pass.

But the defense quickly squandered the lead. On a third-and-12, rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins, Griffin’s back-up, tossed a 77-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss to put the Redskins back ahead, 17-14.

Smith said the coverage by the secondary “was absolutely blown.”

The Falcons’ ensuing drive stalled, but kicker Matt Bryant, who switched to longer spikes for the wet field, made a 53-yard field goal to tie the game with 7:42 left.

After the defense held the Redskins to a three-and-out, Ryan drove the offense down for the winning score, a 13-yard touchdown run by Michael Turner culminating a six-play drive with 2:46 to play.

The defense closed out the game with two interceptions by Dunta Robinson and Thomas DeCoud.

Griffin was taken to the locker room after Weatherspoon knocked him out of the game with a fierce shot along the sideline during Washington’s second possession of the second half. Griffin’s head appear to snap back into defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux’s back.

“He wasn’t sure what quarter it was,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “At that time, when he wasn’t really sure what the score was or what quarter it was, we knew he had a mild concussion.”

Griffin retired to the Redskins’ locker room under his own power.

Washington slowed the Falcons by playing a lot of zone coverage, which provided deep help on receivers Roddy White and Jones.

That left the middle of the field to Gonzalez. He accumulated 13 catches for 123 yards and a key touchdown in the second quarter.

He finished one pass shy of his career high. He caught 14 passes against San Diego when he was with Kansas City on Jan. 2, 2005.

“When you have guys like Roddy and Julio outside, you saw anytime that we threw the ball deep, there were two or three guys around them,” Gonzalez said. “That means I’m getting man-to-man coverage underneath. I’ve said that for most of my career, if I can get man-to-man coverage, I should be able to get open most of the time.”

For most of this dreary day, he was open. The former Cal-Berkeley basketball player looked like he was posting up in the paint on a couple of his grabs.

“I’ve done this before,” Gonzalez said. “It’s part of the game as far as I’m concerned. I’m just glad I could help out.”

Washington became the latest team forced to make a defensive choice on the Falcons’ potent offense. Last week, Carolina elected to double-cover Jones and Gonzalez, allowing White to break loose for eight catches, 169 yards and two touchdowns.

The biggest issue is providing Ryan enough time to find the right person. After being sacked seven times by Carolina last week, Ryan was sacked only once Sunday.

“This is what we envisioned as an offense,” Gonzalez said. “You never know who is going to get it week in and week out, with those type of receivers outside, myself in the middle and Michael Turner in the backfield and Harry Douglas. There are a lot of weapons coming at you.

“It creates matchup problems for the defense.”

Gonzalez, who’s in his 16th year, has said he’s pretty sure he’ll retire after this season. But from this game, it’s clear that his skills have not diminished.

“I’ve been thinking about retiring for the last three years,” Gonzalez said. “That’s not the question. I know I can play another two years at a pretty good level. But the window is closing. I’m having a blast. I’m not thinking about it.”

157 comments Add your comment

Answer This

October 7th, 2012
5:50 pm

@ lince vombarsi
Hate to break it to you, but this the NFL man….no easy games…..every game is a chance to get beat! We 5-0 because we have earned it! And on three we all shall Rise Up!

warfalcon

October 7th, 2012
5:51 pm

No DOUBT ONE GAME AT A TIME.LATES GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Next up the Oakland Raiders

Five & O Falcons

October 7th, 2012
5:51 pm

Enter your comments here

warfalcon

October 7th, 2012
5:56 pm

Lince Vombardi

Everyone schedule is easy once you win the game and look at the next team if you do not like the team that is winning,LIKE THE FALCONS.ONE GAME AT A TIME AND THE SCHEDULE WILL BE EASY.We do not look a head,next up O.R.

ummm

October 7th, 2012
5:58 pm

Please stay out of jail tonight

tottenhamspur

October 7th, 2012
5:59 pm

Ya’ll should be loving on Matt Ryan coach Smith and our defense. Best Falcon everything since ole Arthur bought the team. Be happy

Brandonlee49

October 7th, 2012
6:00 pm

Julio Jones Continues to Prove He is The Premier Receiver in the NFL, and Dunta Robinson, Thomas DeCoud Premier Defenders as well, assembled together with a Gutsy Performance by Matt Ryan, some unbelieveable Throws. Sure the one lost fumble was a downside to an otherwise Awesome Game against a very good Redskins Team… It’s a tough Schedule ahead so lets keep our Birds Flying High !!!!!! What a Nice Timely deterrant to the nasty way the Braves Gave-Away their only Play-Off Hope… Looking Forward to Next Year, Bravos !!!!!

ijonathan

October 7th, 2012
6:02 pm

Everybody is correct. :-) First, this isn’t college…there are no truly “easy” games in the NFL, especially on the road.

However, I would also agree that the Falcons haven’t necessarily played a dominating team on either side of the ball yet, like the Giants offense or the 49ers defense (apparently.)

Fred Garvin

October 7th, 2012
6:03 pm

After party at Matt Ryans house, he’ll be serving Tea and Crumpets

Really?

October 7th, 2012
6:04 pm

I guess the Braves and the Bulldogs were enough of a sacrifice to keep those bloodthirsty sports gods happy. It was very gratifying to see Atlanta not play sharp for a second week in a row and still win. Matt Ryan again figures oth who is hot and uses that player or players to win. Let’s not forget the other Matt who is right there with Ryan for consistency and clutch play.

neanderthal

October 7th, 2012
6:09 pm

better get some more horses if any more of you jump on this bandwagon. half of you dont know a free safety from touchback. let em lose two and the old wagon will lighten up real fast.

gray

October 7th, 2012
6:09 pm

Does any Falcon Fan still think #7 is the best QB for us, REALLY!!!!!!!

Really?

October 7th, 2012
6:10 pm

Y’all take it easy on D’Led. Just because he is dating one of the 80 year old ladies who own the ajc is no reason to assume that is why he got this choice beat. That snazzy bow tie is part of it as well.

Just kidding D’Led. Don’t ban me.

Tree

October 7th, 2012
6:14 pm

Oakland Raiders: you’re next.

Ken

October 7th, 2012
6:21 pm

FALCONS KNOW HOW TO RISE UP!!!!!

Charleston Jacket

October 7th, 2012
6:22 pm

Great way to end the weekend.

THWG

Sick & Tired Of Being Sick & Tired

October 7th, 2012
6:24 pm

For those of us fans that have been supporting the Falcons for years (back to the Fulton County Stadium days), the 5 – 0 start is a great accomplishment!!!!!! This year is shaping up to be very special.
GO FALCONS!!!!!

LOL at the Aints

October 7th, 2012
6:24 pm

Great Win Falcons!! The Nay Sayers will keep Saying Nay until this team does something in the playoffs. I’m getting a different Vibe from this team than the teams of the last few years.. Of course I said the same thing about the Braves, LOL… Hey STB4. What time is kick off. LOL! Go Bolts!

Still Gritz Blitz'n

October 7th, 2012
6:32 pm

Let’s see, Redskins, Broncos, chargers,panthers, etc., & the Bucs, not too shabby.

Aoldtimer

October 7th, 2012
6:34 pm

Pandora? isnt Pandora a free SAT radio station that only plays old loverboy tunes?? Why dont you go back to putting bags over your heads…Aints fan!!

scoot1105

October 7th, 2012
6:37 pm

Wasn’t pretty, but most wins that a team gets on the road aren’t gonna be pretty, and I’LL TAKE IT!! 5-0!! THIS IS THE YEAR OF THE DIRTY BIRD!!! KEEP IT GOIN FALCONS!!!

Still Gritz Blitz'n

October 7th, 2012
6:37 pm

Coach koetter has kept defenses off balance, We’ll take em’ any way we can get em’.

Mikey

October 7th, 2012
6:38 pm

Way to go Falcons! Nice win. As expected, the Skins showed some tough offense. The defense held them though and showed speed, good tackling and perserverance to the end. The D-Line is starting to be more dominating and that is a GOOD thing. The offense demonstrated exceptional depth in big game weapons. The defense just had a hard time covering everybody. Lots of dropped passes caused some hickups during the game but overall a top notch effort ! GO FALCONS! YOU ARE RISING UP!

Roman Banker

October 7th, 2012
6:39 pm

I am happy for the Atlanta Falcons but this happens every year. They do exceptional in the regular season, getting everyone’s hopes up, then falter in the playoffs. This team needs to be peaking in late December. Don’t get me wrong I am happy for them and their great start. They FIND and EXPECT to win in the regular season, I would like to see that carry over to the extended season. It profits this team nothing to win all their regular season games and lose in the Play offs.

2008 LOSS Arizonia Cardinals 30 – 24
2010 LOSS Green Bay Packers 48-21
2011 LOSS New York Giants 24 – 2

Still Gritz Blitz'n

October 7th, 2012
6:39 pm

@ Really? Good point, the Kicker has been a constant.

Big Ray

October 7th, 2012
6:43 pm

The only way the Can’ts won is because the Redskins quarter back was NOT in the game.

Heh…it was the Falcons that put him OUT of the game. Considering you’re a Saints fan hiding your usual handle, I can’t believe that you don’t recognize such a strategy ;)

inkspot

October 7th, 2012
6:43 pm

Winning in the regular season is sweet. This team looks more dangerous in winning than they have in seasons past. Changing Oc and DC has made a huge difference thus far.

Sausage King of Chicago

October 7th, 2012
6:44 pm

Yeah, I know, I watched the game…

At Least......

October 7th, 2012
6:44 pm

At least the Atlanta Falcons are one team that did not EMBARRASS the State of Georgia this weekend…..The Braves Flopped – Chipper’s error cost the game and the DAWGS – they would have been better off if they had stayed in Athens – they didn’t even show up to play….what a losing weekend.

Big Ray

October 7th, 2012
6:48 pm

Matt Ryan once again with a multiple TD and 300+ yard game….

Meanwhile, how about hose superstar QBs in Philly and Carolina?

:lol:

Still Gritz Blitz'n

October 7th, 2012
6:49 pm

Roman Banker, I hear ya, well hopefully, Coach koetter will bring a different brand of offense, that won’t be so predictable, like mularky was the last few years, & coach Nolan will keep the defense a new brand approach than what(? forgot the defensive coordinator, he’s at Auburn now) use to be at Ga., but so far so good, the team seems to be playing w/greater purpose, greater anticipation, the new blend of offensive,defensive coordinators could possibly make them forget the old predictable falcons, different smell in the air, seems like a confident winning smell.

GregKennesaw

October 7th, 2012
6:57 pm

and Scam Newton fumbles again…………….SeaHawks win!

Still Gritz Blitz'n

October 7th, 2012
6:59 pm

Well to bad that spoon lit up on RG, legally, not try’n to put him out of commision, he left himself open for a good pop, just pure solid football. The Aint’s waller’in up in their own mess, they lost to RG earlier this year, bless their hearts. Each week, the Bird’s defeated the teams that defeated them, Hmmmmmm, ‘How about that,

Never Seen This B4

October 7th, 2012
7:00 pm

Wow these falcons could be something special…..

Gamer

October 7th, 2012
7:01 pm

Falcons D is for REAL, huh?

WHAT GOTTEN INTO DUNTAY……DUDE IS HITTING RUNNING BACKS WITH MONSTER SHOTS..

Next on Falcons radar are the Raiders inside the Dome….Home Sweet Georgia’s Dome……

Falcons on three, DOMINATE!!!

DawgNole

October 7th, 2012
7:10 pm

Roman Banker
October 7th, 2012
6:39 pm

I am happy for the Atlanta Falcons but this happens every year. They do exceptional in the regular season, getting everyone’s hopes up, then falter in the playoffs.
____________________

Actually, they don’t “do exceptional” in the regular season every year at all. In fact, only recently have they put together consecutive winning seasons–for the first time ever.

On the other hand, they do indeed falter in the playoffs EVERY year. Hopefully this season will be different. Long way to go, though–obviously.

Bandwagon Falcon fan

October 7th, 2012
7:14 pm

Reading all of these comments, the Super Bowl must have played today. I missed it. Being a Bandwagon fan, I wanted to watch it. ATLANTA FALCONS SUPER BOWL CHAMPS. Rise up !!!!!!!! Super Bowl was played early this year. When is the parade ? I don’t want to miss it. RISE UP FALCONS CHAMPS !!!!!!

okeetee

October 7th, 2012
7:19 pm

I thought the replacement refs were back in business when they disallowed Gonzales touchdown when he was CLEARLY way over the line and in the end zone! And other than the MAJOR breakdown in the secondary on the Moss touchdown, the Falcons didn’t play that bad of a game! Of course, it helped that the Skins coaching staff were dumb enough to keep throwing the ball instead of running it against our defense! When they gouged us for big yards on those back to back runs it was like the Skins said: “Hey this running the ball is working great for us……so……let’s do something different!” They tried to pass got sacked and then two in-completions and the Falcons were back in business! Now we have back to back bye weeks! We’re going to kill the Raiders and then our regular bye week! Fantastic!

dawg52

October 7th, 2012
7:21 pm

Way to go Falcons……least we got one team to hang a hat on………

Burger brian

October 7th, 2012
7:30 pm

Man ~ TJ Hook is right! For sooo many years ~ we had to suffer through losing those games (the past two contests). These guys will lose one or two along the way ~ perhaps ~ but look at the NFC ~ we should end up as the one seed and GUARANTEED ~ This team is READY to go deep!!! We are getting every Teams BEST each week and it is making us better. Win Pretty ~ win ugly ~ no matter ~ a win is a win and we learn every week as these talented coaches and players throw the preverbial “kitchen sink” at us. I feel really good!!!

Samuel

October 7th, 2012
7:39 pm

Inspite of all the drop passes, penalties and bad throws early on by Matt Ryan, the Falcons showed resilency in getting the victory over the Redskins. Dirk Koetter is relentless, guys on the team made plays. Kudos to Tony Gonzales and Dunta Robinson they both played one hell of a game.

Falcons Rule.

October 7th, 2012
7:42 pm

I told you damn azz clowns the birds would take out RGIII. Only a matter of time ’till the angry birds are hoisting the Lombardi….undefeated season baby. Mattie Ice MVP………….Wake up folks……..Mattie Ice is ELITE. Oh yeah….F the Aints….0-5…haha.

falcondawg

October 7th, 2012
7:51 pm

Pandora, for your information, the Skins offense didn’t score a single point when RGIII was in the game. So you are rather ignorant to suggest that had he stayed in, we would have lost. Don’t do drugs. They kill brain cells.

Jasonsmith

October 7th, 2012
7:51 pm

Thank God one team in Georgia showed up this weekend. Falcons looked out of sync most of the day but they kept plugging away and came through. It wasn’t pretty but they got the job done.

Colin says

October 7th, 2012
7:54 pm

Hats off to babineaux, his hustle near the goal-line ended up giving us the chance to take this game.

Whadda Ya Know?

October 7th, 2012
8:07 pm

I was at the game today and man was it fun. They looked sloppy initially but got it together and moved the ball to score. We put RG3 to sleep today so I knew the game was in the bag once he was out. RG3 gets rid of the ball before the defense has a chance to react. How do you defend that? Dude is going to be a beast to deal with in the future–needs to stop running though. Also, I couldn’t believe the amount of Falcon fans representing in DC. We’re deep up here.

Singletary

October 7th, 2012
8:28 pm

Ahhhh. This is what it feels like when you have coordinators who can IMPROVISE at half time. Someone once told me that most teams do that. What a concept.

tommy the rooster

October 7th, 2012
8:30 pm

way to go birds!!! make a longtime Atlanta fan proud!! Glad I got up at 4 to get work out of way before kickoff, was well worth it!!

Dirty Birds Bringin' It!

October 7th, 2012
8:57 pm

I can second what Whadda Ya Know? stated, I was at the Charger/Falcons game earlier this year in SD. I was floored by the number of Falcon fans in SoCal. Usually I see the usual suspects all over the place – Steelers, Packers, and Cowboys fans.

Dirty Bird Nation Lives!!!!! Great job today from the Red and Black!

okeetee

October 7th, 2012
8:59 pm

“We are getting every Teams BEST each week and it is making us better.”
Let’s not get carried away, bubba! Actually, I don’t think we’ve beaten a team with a winning record yet! But our secondary is much improved….and our passing game is top notch! Need to pick up the running game and could use more pressure from our pass rush. Other than that, I like our team and I like our schedule!