Falcons stumble about, beat lowly Raiders 23-20 on Bryant field goal




Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and head coach Mike Smith look on in apparent dismay. (Curtis Compton/Ccompton@ajc.com)

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and head coach Mike Smith look on in apparent dismay. (Curtis Compton/Ccompton@ajc.com)

The Falcons have a nickname for kicker Matt Bryant.

“He’s ‘Mister Automatic,’” safety William Moore said. “I didn’t have one doubt in my mind. He’s been coming through for us all season.”

With the Falcons’ high-octane offense running on fumes, and Mister Automatic having already misfired on a 43-yard first quarter attempt, Bryant hit from 55 yards with one second left to lift the Falcons to a 23-20 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

It was the Falcons’ third straight dramatic win in the fourth quarter and the 19th time that quarterback Matt Ryan has pulled out a win in the fourth quarter or overtime.

The Falcons needed a late touchdown run from running back Michael Turner with under three minutes to play to beat Washington 24-17 on Oct. 7.

Bryant made a 40-yarder to beat Carolina 30-28 with five seconds left on Sept. 30.

All of this late-game drama is taking its toll on the team.

“We have to cut it out with these nail bitters,” Moore said. “Overall, we’re going to have to finish ball games. I felt like we played down (to the Raiders’ level) a little bit.”

With the victory, the Falcons improved to 6-0 heading into their bye week. The Raiders dropped to 1-4.

Also, Falcons head coach Mike Smith joined Dan Reeves in team annals for most victories with 49. He could set the new mark with the Falcons face the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 28.

“Everybody is happy for Coach Smith,” Ryan said. “He’s done a great job since he’s been here and certainly everything that comes his way is deserved. We all love playing for him.”

With the passing game struggling and the power running game in moth balls somewhere, Ryan pulled things together in the final 40 seconds from the Falcon’s 20.

He started by completing a screen pass to Jacquizz Rodgers for 7 yards. He followed with a 4-yard completion to Harry Douglas, who scooted out of bounds.

After an incompletion, Ryan found tight end Tony Gonzalez for gains of 10 and 13 yards down to Oakland’s 37. With five seconds on the clock Bryant was summoned.

“It’s about handling the moment, whatever that is, managing it,” Bryant said.

The Raiders tried to ice Bryant with a timeout. He used that to get in a practice kick.

“In my opinion there are more good things that can come out of calling a timeout,” Bryant said. “I mean if you make the kick, you just conjure up that feeling of repeating that. If you miss it, then you know how to make the adjustments.”

Ryan had his worst game of the season. He completed 24 of 37 passes for 249 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. His passer rating of 59.4 was his lowest since he posted a 50.6 in a 17-10 loss at Houston on Dec. 4, 2011.

With the offense sputtering, the defense tried to drag the team to victory.

With the score tied 13-13 and the Raiders within field goal range, cornerback Asante Samuel stepped in front of a Carson Palmer pass intended for wide receiver Denarius Moore and returned it 79 yards for a touchdown with 2:40 to play.

“Making that mistake I made is crucial, it’s on me,” Palmer said. “It’s on me. It’s my fault.”

The Raiders didn’t fade. They promptly scored on a touchdown run by Darren McFadden to make it 20-20 with 40 seconds to left setting the stage for the latest dramatic drive.

Ryan, who had thrown three interceptions over the first five games, tossed three in the first half against the Raiders. The Raiders turned those three picks into 10 points en route to a 13-7 halftime lead.

On the fourth play of the game during the Falcons’ opening drive, Ryan tried to connect with Douglas on a crossing route, but Oakland cornerback Joselio Hanson cut underneath to pick off the pass.

The Falcons forced the Raiders to punt, but Ryan tossed his second interception on a deep pass intended for Julio Jones. Mike Huff intercepted the ball at Oakland’s 2-yard line.

The Raiders quickly got from the shadows of their goal posts when Palmer connected with Moore on a 49-yard pass play. The drive stalled and Sebastian Janikowski made a 52-yard field goal.

On the Falcons ensuing possession, Ryan got hot. He completed 7 of 7 passes on a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. He capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Roddy White to make it 7-3.

Former Georgia Tech standout Philip Wheeler forced Ryan’s third interception. Wheeler blitzed untouched up the middle. When he slammed into the Ryan, the pass fluttered out and Oakland safety Tyvon Branch came down with it at Atlanta’s 28. The Raiders would score on a 25 yard pass two plays later.

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255 comments Add your comment

Michael M.

October 14th, 2012
4:15 pm

Sometimes these bad games are the ones you win with a late fieldgoal that carry you though the Season……………Congats Falcons !

The Real Rick

October 14th, 2012
4:16 pm

Glad the bye week is here. These guys need some time away to refocus. I’ll take the w but its time to clean up their act

MrSaint

October 14th, 2012
4:16 pm

Worst 6-0 team I’ve ever seen!

Falcons 6-0 : The Latest Fuzz

October 14th, 2012
4:20 pm

[...] Falcons stumble about, beat lowly Raiders 23-20 on Bryant field goal – Atlanta Journal Constit… [...]

Michael M.

October 14th, 2012
4:20 pm

Raiders came in to upset the Falcons………….but the Falcons blowed a hole through the Goal post to upset the Raiders………………hehehehe

LDawg

October 14th, 2012
4:24 pm

Disagree MrSaint. It’s the great teams that pull it out when it counts. We just need to stop letting everyone else look like champions. I mean 474 yds of offense? And stop making those dumb play calls with inches to go. I don’t care that it’s a garbage win. We are 6-0 baby!!!

GB's Hamburgers

October 14th, 2012
4:26 pm

Falcons looked horrible but won. Raiders looked good but lost. Ryan looked bad for the second game in a row. MrSaint gets it right. Lady luck has come calling.

brian

October 14th, 2012
4:27 pm

At one and four you should be seen from and not heard from just like how the saints play

[...] 40 seconds to left. Ryan promptly drove the Falcons into field goal range for Bryant. Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution   [...]

FalconPride66

October 14th, 2012
4:30 pm

Lack of a running game and run blocking is really hurting this team. We had first and goal from the 2 but couldn’t bang it in?

Atlanta Native

October 14th, 2012
4:30 pm

A win is a win, but I’m not comfortable with our assertion about being an elite team. We let a door mat team push us to a last second field goal.
Where is the pressure “guess where we’re coming from” defense that we saw for the first two games. It seems like we’ve dusted off the Van Gorder play book and gone back to the Swiss cheese, soft zone.
O line did not protect very well today.
I hope we come out of the bye week rested and re-focused.

SIX and O Falcons

October 14th, 2012
4:37 pm

Stumble UP !

SIX and O Falcons

October 14th, 2012
4:39 pm

WORST 1-5 sAints team I’ve ever seen.

SIX and O Falcons

October 14th, 2012
4:40 pm

The 1-4 sAints had a bye bye playoffs week.

Ekim56

October 14th, 2012
4:41 pm

“Stumble UP.” That’s funny. Kudos to you, SIX and 0.

J.J.M.

October 14th, 2012
4:43 pm

2 things…no pass rush and the o line…same problems as last year right?

[...] stay undefeatedNBCNews.com2012 Week 6 Rapid ReactionESPN (blog)76F Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GASI.comAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog) -Yahoo! Sportsall 821 news articles » http://news.google.com [...]

Puma

October 14th, 2012
4:48 pm

Have the Falcons looked great last two weeks? No, but the won despite that. It used to be the Falcons outplaying the other team but still losing, now it has been us getting outplayed and still winning. Good teams find ways to win, even on bad days. Go Falcons!

Michael M.

October 14th, 2012
4:50 pm

Haters keep hating and Falcons just keep on winning……………………I love it……………………………………………………….

Rise Up!

October 14th, 2012
4:51 pm

Are “W’s” graded on some sort of sliding scale? Win when you are supposed to, and sneak a few victories out when you weren’t supposed to. Who’s dominate in the NFL this year … what’s their record?

This isn’t the aint’s who obviously have to cheat to win.

Glenn

October 14th, 2012
4:51 pm

Three games in a row the Falcons backed into wins. They could just as easily be 3-3 as 6-0 right now so I’m personally not sold on these guys as much as the rest of you, especially after laying an egg against one of the worst teams in the League at home.

Michael M.

October 14th, 2012
4:54 pm

watching the niners-Giants game…………nothin happening out there so great either out of two so-called good football teams……………it is what it is………..Falcons are on top of the NFC !

Dr. Warren

October 14th, 2012
4:55 pm

Feels like Matt Ryan and his receivers are the WHOLE team. Them and Matt Bryant, of course. The defense is like swiss cheese: full of holes and stinky.

cory dillinger

October 14th, 2012
5:01 pm

Why is it the Falcons have to expain close wins? No other team has to explain that not the Ravens the Patriots or the Texans

warfalcon

October 14th, 2012
5:03 pm

JUST WIN BABY! LETS GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!ONE GAME AT A TIME.NEXT UP PHIL/VICK.TIME TO REST FOR A WEEK AND GET BACK TO THE TABLE[SCHEDULE].

Panic fan

October 14th, 2012
5:04 pm

In watching the past 6 games seems our 1st 3 games we were a different team on both sides of the ball We look alot like last yr today with mike turner on 1 yd gain on 1st down how many times have we seen that not work this team needs to come out of the bye week with a better game plan or it will be ugly 2nd half of season for our birds 6-0 ill take it 4 now

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D-Man

October 14th, 2012
5:05 pm

This year’s N.O. Taints – worst team ever seen period!! LOL

Old Man Peabody

October 14th, 2012
5:06 pm

Falcons 6-0 Falcons Opp. 10-21, lets see who they really are after the bye week when they get to the meat of their schedule.

D-Man

October 14th, 2012
5:06 pm

Well then Glenn, would you be sold if they were 3-3? Doubt it, you’d complain even more so zip it…6-0 baby!! GO FALCONS!!

D-Man

October 14th, 2012
5:08 pm

You win all your games = hate , but if we lost ANY of those games = hate even more. Can’t win either way unless you’re what, oh yeah SIX AND O

GO FALCONS!

Michael M.

October 14th, 2012
5:09 pm

poor Raiders played em tight and still going home with the loss……………………….hahahahaha

Michael M.

October 14th, 2012
5:10 pm

Falcons 6 w’s ……………… Trolls winless…………………….hehehehehe

Baby Punting

October 14th, 2012
5:13 pm

Hey MrSaint, I rather be the worst 6-0 team than the best 1-4 team.

Big Ray

October 14th, 2012
5:15 pm

Worst, ugliest win I’ve seen from this team in a while. But we’re 6-0.

I’d rather win ugly than lose pretty.

Or be the Saints. Ha.

Tee

October 14th, 2012
5:16 pm

They won but it kinda feels like a loss. When we get the ball on the 2 yard line why is it so easy to predict the outcome. We have to put these types of games away early. I mean damn help me COVER THE DAMN SPREAD… Tired of losing my damn dough…… Its my team but geesssssssss help me get paid too. -8 and cant cover but yet you win. Damn

Big Ray

October 14th, 2012
5:16 pm

I wonder if Curtis Lofton still feels all warm and fuzzy inside about joining a “winning organization?”

Ha…that’s karma, biatch…’cause that there franchise is a tad short on wins these days. Whoops!

Big Ray

October 14th, 2012
5:17 pm

You wanna get paid, go get a job.

Sports is for spending. Can’t help it if you don’t know how to spend…

:twisted:

Ex Falcon

October 14th, 2012
5:18 pm

Falcons need a running game ASAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not sold on them at all!!!!!

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Paddy

October 14th, 2012
5:20 pm

Mr. Saint…….that is the worst sour grapes I have ever heard!!!!!!!!!!!!LOL

Paddy

October 14th, 2012
5:22 pm

Big Ray,,,,,that was funny!

UGA ECONOMICS MAJOR

October 14th, 2012
5:23 pm

see cory dillingers comments…FALCONS DONT HAVE TO EXPLAIN A CLOSE WIN LIKE THE RAVENS AND ALL THE REST…6-0 I,M VERY PROUD OF THE FALCONS!!!FIND A WAY TO GET A W

MTSeats

October 14th, 2012
5:25 pm

When will the media call out MSmith? Poor game, poor performance. This ain’t SB caliber!

why not us

October 14th, 2012
5:26 pm

if the falcons were 0 and 5,
opp would be15 and 16.

David

October 14th, 2012
5:26 pm

Falcons got lucky, I love em, but they looked like $hit.

Michael M.

October 14th, 2012
5:27 pm

I agree………….the running game is nowhere near what it should be ……….just think if Atlanta had McFadden as RB, would it help ? ……….I doubt it……………

Bronkelliott

October 14th, 2012
5:27 pm

I agree totally on not how you win but getting the win. Look at the NY Giants,do they care how they got to the Super Bowl ? Just the fact that they won gives you a team with a sharp edge. Love these Falcons and am proud because they are finding a way to win. Hopefully this will give them a winning edge and take them through to the Super Bowl. Go Falcons

GregKennesaw

October 14th, 2012
5:29 pm

Mr Saint, The Saints are the worst 1-4 team I have ever seen!

BobDog

October 14th, 2012
5:30 pm

It’s not hard to find plenty of things to worry about. The Falcons are barely getting by bad teams. Okay, you get behind the Panthers, things look dim, and then make a great comeback to win. That’s okay and a character builder. But then, they struggle mightily against Washington and now Oakland. When they play a good time, they won’t have the opportunity to make the comeback.

This looks like a better team, and I am excited that we are on track to win the division and get home field advantage. But this team, in its present state, I don’t see making it to the second game of the playoffs.