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

DawgNole

October 7th, 2012
9:32 pm

Dirty Birds Bringin’ It!
October 7th, 2012
8:57 pm

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

And that ain’t the UGA Red and Black he’s talkin’ about!!!

[...] the first time in franchise history, the Atlanta Falcons are [...]

Coach T

October 7th, 2012
10:19 pm

You’re looking live at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium where the undefeated Atlanta FALcons…..

Falcon James

October 7th, 2012
11:08 pm

Could somebody ask STB4 to come tell us about the Super Bowl again? Maybe he can remind us what the Saint record is this season.

meme

October 7th, 2012
11:26 pm

RGIII GOT SPOONED!!!!

bigbobbles

October 7th, 2012
11:37 pm

Great win for the Falcons. Let us hope that Frank Wren takes Cluster and makes him Assistant GM with me. Dimi gets a pass for awhile! By the way, are Richt and Chizik brothers? The best recruits with disappointing results. At least Tech is playing almost as well as they are expected. Go dawgs………lol!

Alan

October 7th, 2012
11:45 pm

44counter, it has seemed to me for some time the national networks, Fox, ESPN, etc., have always had AT LEAST 1 or more “analysts” hesitant to give ATL/GA teams props, whether college or pro. Right now, we’re one of only two UNDEFEATED NFL teams. . . bottom line!

Tony S.

October 7th, 2012
11:54 pm

Please don’t retire, Tony G. The Falcons could have a mini-dynasty, at least offensively, if you stick around a couple of more years.

DR. FALCON

October 7th, 2012
11:55 pm

IT’S A CREDIT TO THIS CURRENT REGIME, TO HIRE CREDIBLE COORDINATORS, WHO KNOW HOW TO COACH TALENT! 5-0, BABY! SOME OF US, REMEMBER THE REALLY BAD YEARS! LETS ENJOY IT! THE POST SEASON WILL COME. TO GET TO THE POSTSEASON, YOU HAVE TO HAVE A FAST START! THESE TALKING HEADS, KEEP BRINGING UP OUR 0-3, POSTSEASON RECORD! WHATEVER! 5-0, IS 5-0! 4 GAMES UP IN THE DIVISION!

slobberknocker

October 7th, 2012
11:59 pm

Yeah, the only reason the Falcons won was because the Skins rookie qb got knocked out of the game. If you believe that dog squeeze I have a bridge to sell you. Grow up, Ryan has the Falcons playing their best football since 1998, so get over it.

Ueeediot

October 8th, 2012
12:07 am

I hope to see Matt shred the Raiders for a fortyburger

D. Orlando Ledbetter

October 8th, 2012
12:08 am

At the buzzer, I drop some basic notes. The real story comes later. I guess I need to explain that better and keep it real.

Tony S.

October 8th, 2012
12:17 am

DawgNole – The Falcons ALWAYS falter in the playoffs? Really? I guess that Super Bowl appearance and that NFC Championship game (which Atlanta reached by beating Green Bay @ Green Bay for their first ever home playoff loss) were mirages. 20 NFL teams a year don’t reach the playoffs at all. At least the Falcons have been making it that far pretty consistently under Coach Smith. I’d give props to the core group of players, but they’re too numerous. I guess I just see the glass as half full, not half empty.

Loyalfalconfrmthemississippi

October 8th, 2012
12:58 am

Easiest schedule wow lame excuse for your jealousy of our atlanta falcons bro get a life atlantas schedule is much harder than the texans or hell even the aints have an easier schedule. Lmao just wow

todd

October 8th, 2012
1:17 am

@ Lince Dumbardi- it’s the NFL. 5-0 is 5-0 idiot.. Schedule has not been the toughest or the weakest.
That being said, people on this site need to temper expectations. This team has plenty of weaknesses so please stop talking so much crap..

shelia

October 8th, 2012
1:32 am

Easy schedule thats’ an insult to the NFC East. You need to get your facts straight………..GO FALCONS…………………………

Samuel

October 8th, 2012
6:00 am

If you shore up that run defense and the offensive line improves the sky is the limit. Harry Douglas should be a big weapon in the second half of the season. also Jaquizz Rodgers needs to step his game up. Ashante Samuels should start to get some interceptions soon. Now we need Dent and Ray Edwards to play at a high level. The point is to play well all year long, but going into the playoffs- now that’s when you want to have your peak performances. Go Birds!! Best performance Dunta Robinson and Tony Gonzales.

Samuel

October 8th, 2012
6:06 am

Todd it doesn’ matter about the schedule it matters to win the game. Keep in mine that on any given Sunday you can be beaten. If you look at the history of the game all the teams that are successful have had weak and strong schedules.

[...] for first time in franchise historyThe Desert Sunthescore.comall 1,543 news articles » Go to Source Notice: Undefined variable: contador in /home/content/92/8628892/html/rssmega/wp_tags.php on line [...]

Bobby Butler

October 8th, 2012
7:42 am

Choke changed his name to “Smack ButtKiss”. Anyway it proves that you have to execute a better plan to be successful in the NFL. We have mostly the same team from last year. They seem either better prepared or greatly benefit from the schemes that Koetter and Nolan deploy. I am looking forward to the Aints hitting the dome. Smack ButtKiss be afraid, very afraid.

Loyal Falcon

October 8th, 2012
8:15 am

Enter your comments here

Loyal Falcon

October 8th, 2012
8:21 am

Lame’s like Pandora need to just keep it moving. The falcons are playing good football. We have been tested the last few games and that’s actually a plus. If we some how end up with home field in the playoffs I promise the outcome will be totally different. I’m tired of hearing these creeps come onto our blog talking about the crappy Aints. Most of them are bandwagon jumpers anyway. There’s a new breed here in Atlanta and things are changing. The foundation that Smitty and Thomas are setting is gonna have us relevant for a long time. It’s only a matter of time before we’re holding that Lombardy Trophy here in the ATL!

You FalCANTS fans....

October 8th, 2012
8:38 am

MarkATL….where are you? Hello???? The Saints did a remarkable job! The ONLY reason why your sorry Cants’ won that game is because of the Red Skins QB was OUT of the game. You all are soooo funny! Someone even had the nerve to say the the Cants’ will win 15 games and loose 1…HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Too funny! It’s NOT how you start a season, but it’s how you finish. Trust me when I say that the Cants’ will not go to the Superbowl this or any other year in the near future (20 years) min. Too funny. You all are bragging because you won 5 games. 3 of those wins were when they had those fake referees…too funny. You all only won by 7 points and the Red Skins were using their 2nd string QB. What does that REALLY say about the Cants’…it says how sorry they really are….enjoy it while you can…You will start losing really soon. Hahahahahahahaha! I’m laughing because the NFL does NOT respect your sorry team. They don’t respect them now and never will. Hahahahahahahaha! Can’ts are loosers..

You FalCANTS fans....

October 8th, 2012
8:43 am

Wow…a Cants’ ‘fearweather’ fan is still referring to a Superbowl Champion team as the aint’s..how sorry and sad is that? hahahahahahahaha! That Lombardy trophy will NEVER be in Atlanta. You are asking me why? Well let me tell you…the reason is because in order to get that trophy you actually have to go to the playoffs and actually win a game and then you would have to go to the suprerbowl and win. Now you, I and the entire NFL know that the Cants’ will NEVER go to the superbowl again because they are a sorry team that just got lucky…Matt Ryan is overrated… Soon enough you sorry fans will be seating at the top of the new stadium because your sorry CANTS’ will not fight for you all because they could care less about their team selling those expensive seats. You know the decent ones..hahahahahahahahahahaha! The cants’ in the superbowl? Now THAT’s funny! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! :) :) :)

Smitty's the Man!

October 8th, 2012
8:45 am

Nice picture, and nice story, but the picture caption gives credit to Jonathan Massaquoi (96) for the hit, instead of Sean Weatherspoon (56). I like the way the new O and D coordinators have raised the level of play. We are more balanced on both sides of the ball. I know it’s early, and nobody knows how far this team will go, but IMO, it’s the best looking team the Falcons have ever had.

Jeff

October 8th, 2012
8:53 am

Bryant has icewater in the veins – Nice coaching brings out Julio Jones’ talent. This team is really well rounded

sam

October 8th, 2012
9:26 am

I’m thinking RGIII will learn to run out of bounds next time. Welcome to the NFL.

[...] best thing about it is that we are not playing our best football and we’re 5-0,” veteran center Todd McClure said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. [...]

DB

October 8th, 2012
9:49 am

After the dui, turner has been playing much better. Guess he needed something to motivate him and redeem himself.

Five & O Falcons

October 8th, 2012
10:08 am

Falcons 5-0
Bucs 1-3
Panthers 1-4
sAints 1-4

Sis-Boom-Bah Humbug

October 8th, 2012
10:13 am

Regarding the picture caption, anyone paying attention to the game knows Weatherspoon made the big hit – Massaquoi was not even active for the game.

Hope Griffin comes out of the trauma ok – he seems to be an authentic talent, a real competitor & a solid individual.

When is comes to competitors in general though, hats off to the Falcons – they are still jelling for 2012, but nevertheless finding ways to win.

DonofAcworth

October 8th, 2012
10:20 am

Shades of a bad “Georgia” weekend as the Braves prove they are not — led by their all star Chipper Jones who once again led from behind. His bad throwing error opened the gates as 2 more errors happened at the wrong time (as usual) and that took the happless
late season Braves into the bad place. As for Tech and the Georgia Dogs… they were hapless and looked very bad especially for a nationally 5th ranked team. But, saving the day for Georgia were the 5-0 Falcoln’s who proved that good teams can overcome even a very bad start and truly did come back as a professional team can. So, goodby Chipper and hello Falcoln’s…. let’s see how far you can go and please make the Saints the ain’ts!

[...] Falcons improve to 5-0 for first time in franchise history [...]

GATiger

October 8th, 2012
10:56 am

Mr. Gonzales, I’m going to read between the lines of your statement and conclude that you’re open to reconsidering your decision to retire. So, if the Falcons can get a quality O lineman in the draft or free agency and/or another quality RB, the running game improves. How do you stop all that?

MacDaddy

October 8th, 2012
11:10 am

Can someone please tell me what’s going on with Cory Peters. We really need him in the middle.

[...] The Falcons are 5-0 for the first time in franchise history. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution] [...]

Mike "CHOKE" Dogs To Death

October 8th, 2012
12:11 pm

You FalCANTS fans….

“Fearweather??” [sic]

Dude, as a Saints fan, you should understand that people who have rooted for a losing franchise for 46 years are the antithesis of “fair weather” fans. Fair weather fans would be those who root for the Steelers, Packers or Cowboys but grew up elsewhere.

You had your great run. Good for you. But this is our time. Deal with it.

PlanB

October 8th, 2012
12:15 pm

MacDaddy – I don’t like the rules that it’s ok to keep the fans in the dark on injuries either.
We need help in the run game. Dent getting taken out most of the time. Quizz not running well. About 2 ypc. Turner running better but can’t catch. All that bad stuff said, this team is looking good. Matt is finding the gut not being dbl teamed. Snelling runs hard the few times he gets the ball. Defense is holding on.
Hope Tony stays another year. Remember, when we draft, the best TE’s today have basketball experience. Tony G., Gates, Graham. Include that in your thinking.
Can’ts got a break and 14 point swing. Game was over with a pick 6 until ref sympathizers called a head to head on the Chargers to take it away.

BYC

October 8th, 2012
12:17 pm

Couldn’t get the caption right for the guy who delivered the legal game-changing hit on RG3? Sad. SPOOOOONNNN!

[...] The Falcons are 5-0 for the first time in franchise history. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution] [...]

DJ Sniper

October 8th, 2012
12:43 pm

Can somebody please explain to me why Saints fans are in here talking smack when they currently reside at the bottom of the NFC South? Saints fans are a trip sometimes. There’s an article on NFL.com talking about how the Saints still have issues despite their win last night. You should see the reaction from some of their fans.

D

October 8th, 2012
12:49 pm

Well DJ, the aints finally won a game and this might be their only time this year to talk smack.

Barry

October 8th, 2012
1:02 pm

Hey Y”all

ONE HEARTBEAT, BABY!!”. Our Falcons played with “ONE HEARTBEAT!!!. That’s all I have to say. They played TOGETHER. They played STRONG. They played MAD. And they played NASTY. Now they are playing CONSISTANT. That is what is developing in the “PROCESS” of our Atlanta Falcons getting to the SUPER BOWL. We have had the first in many things since Coach Smith and Dimitroff have come to Atlanta: The first back to back winning seasons. The first 4-0 record. And now the first 5-0 record in Atlanta Falcon history. The “PROCESS” is continuing GROWING into our being the first Atlanta FALCON team to win the SUPER BOWL. We are “ONE”.

I am loving the “PROCESS”. I see the players that they drafted growing and showing their skills at a high level. I see the veterans they signed playing at a HIGHER LEVEL. I see the coaches the coaches “COORDINATING” and enjoying the talent they have with they “SCHEMES” they are using to “DEFEAT” teams. I see the OWNERS and the GM”s “LOVING ” what they “ENVISION” of how they want an Atlanta “SUPER BOWL” team to look like. The “CHEMISTRY” on this team is “ONE HEARTBEAT!!!” And we the FANS, THE COMMUNITY, AND THE LOCAL MEDIA ARE PART OF IT. Every game the team is getting better and better in understanding the new coaches system that Coach Smith believes is going to get us to the next level on a consistant basis. They
are putting a “GREAT PRODUCT” on the field. The players appeared to have bought into the system and, AS A TEAM, are excelling individually, and AS A “TEAM”. Every game is exciting this season, No “BORING” stuff. I can feel the CONFIDENCE, NASTINESS, AND SWAG that this team is becoming. By season end, there will be Christmas gifts for all off us comming into the New Year. It will be a “POWERFUL” team continuing its drive to take care of “UNFINSHED BUSINESS” on its quest to the SUPER BOWL. Tony Gonzaalez said it best, “ONE GAME AT A TIME”. Yeah, “ONE GAME AT A TIME IN “ONE HEARTBEAT!!”. Its time to hit these NFL teams in the mouth with a “THUMP!!”. Can you hear it “THUMP!!”. IT”S GETTING LOUDER!!!! THUMP!!! THUMP!!!! “ONE HEARTBEAT, BABY!!!!”

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THE “PROCESS” CONTINUES TO THE SUPER BOWL. THUMP!!

“FALCONS, RISE UP!!!!” WE “RISE UP!!” IN “ONE HEARTBEAT!!!”

SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!
This is a SECRET from a FALCON FAN. TELL EVERYBODY!!!!

………………………..”ONE HEARTBEAT, BABY!!!!!………………..

DJ Sniper

October 8th, 2012
1:09 pm

Good point D. The next time they lose, they will go right back into hiding.

Whadda Ya Know?

October 8th, 2012
1:35 pm

You FalCANTS fans…said, “You FalCANTS fans….Hahahahahahahaha! I’m laughing because the NFL does NOT respect your sorry team. They don’t respect them now and never will. Hahahahahahahaha! Can’ts are loosers”.

We must really be good for you to take time out to come on a blog of a team–that you’re evidently not a fan of–and try and criticize them like you’re 10 years old. Really? Really? Son grow up and “act” like a man little boy.

Mike Franklin

October 8th, 2012
2:08 pm

Really can’t get enough of this. I watch the vids at ESPN and falcons.com 20 times each.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself… 5-0.
But then I come here and the hate-trolls make it even better. Nobody hates you when you lose so… I know we’re kicking ass.

Mike Franklin

October 8th, 2012
2:12 pm

DJ Sniper – The saints fans have always hated Atlanta… mainly because when both teams were losing, we always got at least two wins a year playing them. They even handed out tee shirts in the late ’70s that had ‘I hate the Falcons’ printed on the front.

They really do hate Atlanta, the Falcons and their fans. That’s just their mentality.

Seen This B4

October 8th, 2012
2:13 pm

OK….Here I am.

Just so you know that was a cheap shot on RGIII by Witherspoon. I bet he gets fined by the NFL. If not for that cheap shot, Falcants would have lost.

You know it.

RiM

October 8th, 2012
2:54 pm

so seen this…how much bounty money was that worth? haha….you know i love intellegent banter as much as the next guy…your good with the banter…low on the intellegence…..

Falcon Since 1966

October 8th, 2012
4:31 pm

POeted under the picture:
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)

When did we sign Massaquoi?