Struggling Falcons survive turnovers, Cards in 23-19 victory

11812 ATLANTA: Falcons defenders Stephen Nicholas (from left), Thomas DeCoud, John Abraham and Kroy Biermann line up to pass rush the Cardinals during 2nd half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

11812 ATLANTA: Falcons defenders Stephen Nicholas (from left), Thomas DeCoud, John Abraham and Kroy Biermann line up to pass rush the Cardinals during 2nd half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

This time, the Falcons got that scrawny little yard when they needed it the most.

On a day when they were clearly not at their best, the Falcons imposed their will over the struggling Arizona Cardinals. After his team trailed all day, running back Michael Turner marched into the end zone from a yard out midway through the fourth quarter to lead the Falcons to a 23-19 victory Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

The Falcons improved to 9-1 despite Matt Ryan throwing a career-high five interceptions. The last time the Falcons won while committing at least five turnovers came 25 years ago against the Los Angeles Rams.

“I can tell you that we can’t turn the ball over the way we turned the ball over today,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “You can’t be minus-four in turnovers. Normally you’re not going to win those games.”

With six games to play, the Falcons have three-game lead over the Buccaneers in the NFC South and a four-game game lead over the Saints. The Panthers, who are 2-8, are out of the title race.

Atlanta trailed 13-0 early in this one and was down 19-16 inside the last seven minutes. They embarked on the decisive drive knowing that last week, with the game on the line in New Orleans, Turner was stuffed on a third-and-goal from the 1. A fourth-down pass to Roddy White was batted down in the 31-27 loss.

The Falcons had a dramatic meeting this week about their short-yardage woes.

“I don’t want to get into the specifics of it, but when it came down to that segment, there was some serious talk,” Turner said. “We felt embarrassed that we couldn’t get it done. Coach (Smith) just reminded us that’s the time that you have to dig down deep and give it all that you’ve got.”

The offensive line also accepted the challenge.

“(Offensive coordinator) Dirk (Koetter) called the run (on the last touchdown),” center Todd McClure said. “He had faith in us and we got it done.”

The Falcons also picked up a key third-and-2 while they were trying to run out the clock. Jacquizz Rodgers ran for 6 yards near the two-minute mark, settling the issue.

“That confidence is going to go a long way with this group,” McClure said.

The accomplishment of Turner’s run, in the wake of how the team lost its only game thus far, was not lost upon Smith.

“We were able to get some movement and we were able to get that precious 1 yard,” Smith said. “They are hard to come by. It was blocked correctly. The offensive line did a nice job and Michael was able to step in.”

The Falcons did not appear ready to play against the Cardinals, who were coming off their bye week and had dropped fifth straight games. Though the Cardinals converted Ryan’s first interception into a touchdown just 66 seconds into the game, the Falcons limited Phoenix to just two field goals following the other four picks.

“I just felt like our energy wasn’t there,” White said. “I felt that we came out flat. We can’t have another one of these episodes, I’ll tell you that.”

Veteran linebacker Mike Peterson noticed a lax attitude early and called the team out during pregame warmups.

“We have to get ourselves mentally ready to play,” said White, who finished with eight catches for 123 yards. “I don’t think we came in thinking that we had to be on our A-game. That was part of it.”

With the five interceptions, Ryan had a passer rating of 40.5.

“Part of playing this position in this league is knowing that there will be times when you make mistakes and fall flat on your face,” said Ryan, who completed 28 of 46 passes for 301 yards. “You just have to get up and keep playing.”

After Ryan’s fifth interception, the defense had to hold the Cardinals on last time. On fourth-and-3 from the Atlanta 24 with 3:13 left, a pass intended for Larry Fitzgerald was thrown incomplete.

Thanks to a defensive score — defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux ran back a recovered fumble — and three Matt Bryant field goals, the Falcons tied it 16-16 at halftime.

Ryan’s fourth interception led to a 27-yard Cardinals field goal for a 19-16 lead with 14:56 to play.

After an exchange punts, Ryan, shaking off one of his worst days, drove the Falcons 69 yards in six plays, Turner slamming into the end zone on the seventh play.

Nearly lost in the shuffle: the victory clinched the Falcons’ fifth straight winning season.
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93 comments Add your comment

Michael M.

November 18th, 2012
6:32 pm

Struggle ?………………..lmao………………..another win playing against a tough opponent………..Cards were one of the top teams at the beginning of the Season and they are the team that is stuggling after losing 5 or 6 straight ! Check it out Fans………………….Atlanta is 9 – 1 and through 5 or 6 turnovers which they are not suppose to be able to win these kinds of games the defense kept the Cards out of the endzone and Ryan managed the offense to score enough points to win the ball game.

Kudos to the Falcons……………..onwards and upwards one game at a time !

Falcons Rule.

November 18th, 2012
6:33 pm

Here we go Falcons, Here we go. Way to pull it out…….this builds character baby…..18-1 all the way to the superbowl. Mattie Ice for MVP….BOOK IT!!!!! GET OFF THE BANDWAGON YOU DOUBTING AZZCLOWNS.

goFalcons

November 18th, 2012
6:42 pm

wooooooooooooo hooooooooooo i am pumped after this win

okeetee

November 18th, 2012
6:44 pm

Falcons win game…..and immediately drop 5 spots in the power rankings and out of the top 10! I’m going out on a limb here, I know…….but the Falcons are going to get their butts handed to them in Tampa next week. Although we have one thing going for us: we ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, won’t commit 6 turnovers next week! Still feels great to be 9-1 this season, though! I still don’t think it’s Turner’s fault with the running game. We just do not have good lineman who can open up holes or push the defensive guys off the line of scrimmage. They pass block very well, but can’t open any holes. Hey, at least Turner did a decent job of picking up all those blitz’s they threw at us!

Singletary

November 18th, 2012
6:44 pm

Are you kidding me? After an 8-0, we have to go through this? It is 5:44 in China.

Mr. Mustard

November 18th, 2012
6:45 pm

The Falcons are falling into the same pattern that has existed since Smith, Dimitroff’s first year.

We play to the level of our opponent, seemed scared to excel and play it safe on special teams.

After five years, and new coordinators we should not be so very predictable that opposing teams seem to know what play is called.

There is something wrong, and it seems to be mental, and that falls squarely on the shoulder of Mike Smith.

I know we won, but we are going to be crushed in the playoffs against the elite teams where we will meet them, because they know how to win football games when their standard approaches are denied.

I watched this miserable game and time and time again the Cardinals seemed to know exactly what we were going to do, then execute their plans.

We are 9-1 and I am losing my excitement which is odd I know but we rarely seem to function in total in games that matter. Only when there is relatively little pressure do we act like a complete football team for all four quarters.

This game is no exception, where we rarely return a punt, much less for yardage.

We rarely break a tackle and gain yards after a catch, or rarely break a tackle for a large gain with the run. Rodgers shows some promise, and Turner is becoming a liability.

We are supposed to have the “high powered” offense, yet we are not. We are a finesse offense, and with Jones slowed, a ground game that rarely creates something unless there is a wide open lane, we are easily stopped.

This team does nothing to mix up the contest, to get their opponents off guard and we seemed scared and stale.

Why not fake a punt, or rush the punter? Why not catch a freaking punt and return it?

Matt Ryan looked like the Ryan in the playoffs, confused timid and a half second slow with decisions.

This is Mike Smith and Matt Ryan’s team and they are afraid or unable to take the next step, to own the game and push the limits. Unable to be unorthodox and or take command and MAKE that dynamic throw.

Roddy White needs to stop worrying about interference, catch the ball then put his shoulder down and break a tackle.

“It’s Here”. – Smith’s vanilla ceiling.

It has been five years Dimitroff, you have the talent. Shake it up sir and tell Coach Smith (who I like as a person) that he better get over the hump or he will be challenged and maybe even replaced.

Doggone it, man up! The world does not end if you fail, as you should know by now, but jobs should well end if this week-kneed, hand wringing dish towel offense and special teams don’t grow into themselves.

A win but to me a fail.

goFalcons

November 18th, 2012
6:46 pm

I have a cousin in china!!!!!!!!!!! You are not alone, he loves the Falons also

Brothas Hunt 2

November 18th, 2012
6:46 pm

This team will struggle like hell against Tampa Bay. Tampa has momentum and they are playing lights out football. Mike Smith is not a great coach but he is a good coach. This is not necessarily a bad thing if you are surround by an excellent/talented coaching staff which after four seasons under Mike Smith we know his staff is average at best.

Mike Smith football is predicated on the Falcon’s playing mistake free and hope like hell that the other team self destructs. After ten games into this season, it is clear as day that we lack top notch talent on the offensive and defensive lines. We cannot run block on offense, we cannot stop the run on defense, and special teams is relegated to kicking field goals,punting the football, and fair catching punts to avoid making mistakes.

I live in Maryland and because I have Direct TV (NFL package) I am able to watch every single game. After ten games, the Falcons have not given me a reason to suspect they will have a different outcome than previous seasons in the playoffs. The positive thing about this team is that in 2013 we will have our full compliment of draft picks…no more Julio Jones 2011 draft debt to pay.

Bottom line this team needs top notch talent on the O-line, D-line, and they need to continue to upgrade some of the assistant Coaches to better develop the talent they have on the roster.

BH2

goFalcons

November 18th, 2012
6:47 pm

Mr. Mustard they are a good team and we won!!!!!!! Do you get that??????????

Adogg36

November 18th, 2012
6:47 pm

It wuz a rogers douglas and bryant day!!! Matty had a bad day.But we Rised to dis ocation.

Pmc

November 18th, 2012
6:48 pm

I’m not sure how anyone enjoyed that. That’s the worst football game I’ve ever seen.

Ed

November 18th, 2012
6:54 pm

Wow what a game and what a way to win a game. Matt Ryan couldn’t have played any worse. I think this team has a lot of tenacity and just wills itself to win. 5 consecutive winning seasons.

retired

November 18th, 2012
6:54 pm

i am hoarse from screaming at the tv ‘what the hell is going on’ glad i was alone
we won great But we have work to do…… gotta fix the run game ….. ouch!

Man...

November 18th, 2012
6:57 pm

Quizz looks like a better back again.

Turner was better than last week, but not by much.

Obviously we were going to win, they had the 3rd. string QB in, and couldn’t do a thing passing.

Just the picks hurt us today, uncharacteristic of Ryan.

Still Gritz Blitz'n

November 18th, 2012
6:59 pm

What running game? Can we bounce it outside? Where’s snelling? Implement some running plays w/him, he goes bust’n tale.

Buddy Landel

November 18th, 2012
7:01 pm

PMC, apparently you never watched the Falcons of the late 80s

SOS

November 18th, 2012
7:06 pm

Mr mustard, words out of my mouth , horrible escape ,Whew,,,,,no more excuse they played their worst game this year , lets hope they get it fixed, after 2-4 more yrs.. C’mon man

Mora less Petrino

November 18th, 2012
7:07 pm

9-1 is what matters most!

Atlanta Native

November 18th, 2012
7:10 pm

Kudos to the Birds for posting a win. 9-1 is a great record.
Kudos to the Defense as a whole. Yes, they gave up two long runs to a below average running but they stepped up when needed.

Offense was abysmal. Todd McClure can think and say what he believes, but the O line is not playing well. The running game starts with the 5 guys up front and they are not getting done. All you have to do is look at the game film to see the proof. I was proud of the unit for punching in a TD on the ground for the win. However, the O line has to improve.

Overall, the Birds let yet another bottom feeder look like a decent team. We are far from being an elite team. I don’t have the answers for fixing the problems. I honestly thought the two new coordinators would be the solution, but it appears that there are more factors in play. I hope they can start “playing their best ball” ASAP.

Samuel

November 18th, 2012
7:11 pm

The Falcons stunk up the joint and still got a victory. Going forward, I do feel a little unsettled in terms of how the team plays. Like the New Orleans game the defense couldn’t stop the run until the second half. Matt Ryan although not saying he was totally responsible for five interception had his worst game, I ever seen to date. When Julio is not in the game the offense seems to struggle.Mike Smith keep saying he’s going to fix things, but every game the defense gives up a big play. Also like most teams the Falcons are banged up. Next up is Carolina Panthers and I’ll be watching nervously.

okeetee

November 18th, 2012
7:12 pm

Falcons win…….and immediately drop 5 spots and out of the top 10 in the NFL power rankings! I may be going out on a limb here……but the Bucs are going to kill us in Tampa next week! But two things are for sure: we won’t have 6 turnovers and Ryan won’t throw 5 interceptions, either! I still don’t think it’s Turners fault in our running game. Our offensive lines just can’t make no holes for him to run through. They pass block very well, but stink when it comes to pushing the defensive off the line of scrimmage! Well, at least Turner did a great job of picking up all those blitzes they threw at us! Hardly any yards again on the ground, but the run play calling was alittle bit better this week. Still feels good to be 9-1, right?

steve brown

November 18th, 2012
7:15 pm

Blank needs to refund the fans who paid good money to see this ?????

WS

November 18th, 2012
7:15 pm

IT ALL STARTS WITH COACH SMITH11111111111111111111111

JSS

November 18th, 2012
7:28 pm

Fool’s gold living over here… You’ve got to be honest with yourself (eventually)!

Falcon James

November 18th, 2012
7:31 pm

Wow…..Its nice to have win this week. But Good Lord, what was that?

mark

November 18th, 2012
7:32 pm

we play like s”%$$& for sure we won yes, but it was arizona, what a joke 6 turnovers?? any good team wiil kill u any given sunday, we got lucky that it was the cardinalds 3 string qb, this w dosent man anything,playoffs get real, we gonna loose playing like, close games in the dome vs weak opponents? since when… we are used to big games blowouts, not praying for the game to over!

Pigskin

November 18th, 2012
7:33 pm

This team is horrible.

9-1 ????

Really ????

Falcon James

November 18th, 2012
7:34 pm

I wonder if DOL will give give Ryan a D minus or a F for this performance. I thought Turner had a solid C.

Whiznot

November 18th, 2012
7:36 pm

Big Crimson 75

November 18th, 2012
7:36 pm

Ray Edwards refused to huddle with his teammates in the locker room following last weeks game.
Arthur & Gel-Hair were present in the locker as coach Smith reportedly asked Edwards multiple times to huddle with the team.
Edwards refused, staying by his locker(alone) until his teammates made him.

What a jerk. This team is far better without him.

I was at the Dome today, not exactly a scintillating performance!!
However, a win is indeed a win.
Houston took OT to beat one of the worst teams in the NFL today.

Adogg36

November 18th, 2012
7:39 pm

Well as yall see TB won in OT.Dare up next in TB Its going be rough because dey got a lot of momenum coming in dis game.Also we can’t stop da run.So I expect Martin to run all over us.Defense gone have to step up.FALCON FOR LIFE!!!!

Big Crimson 75

November 18th, 2012
7:39 pm

Samuel — we’re playing Tampa next week.

MTSeats

November 18th, 2012
7:52 pm

How about, if the team incurs a loss at home, ticket holders get their money back.

Preston Thompson

November 18th, 2012
7:53 pm

I’m telling ya, all these folks that are on the Ryan is an elite quarterback bandwagon are going to wreck. I’ve said it before and I’ll do one more time. Matt continuing to throw to the receivers body, even when the defender is dead in line of the pass. That is instinct and it look like Matt just don’t get it. Logic say throw to his hands in a leading fashion, but Matt don’t do it. The Falcons lost last week for that reason and damn near lost today for the same thing. If it wasn’t for Abraham where would the Falcons be. I do support the Falcons but this crap has got to stop of the playoffs will go just like they have in past years.

David

November 18th, 2012
7:55 pm

Tampa Bay will kill us !

MTSeats

November 18th, 2012
8:02 pm

Buy your seat license now, Arthur Blank needs the money. Better yet, watch on TV at no cost. Parking is free and no commute. Win or lose, who really cares?

Johnny

November 18th, 2012
8:03 pm

At least we’re not the Chiefs, Eagles or Cardinals. We were only the 29th worst team in the NFL today. I’ve never seen a worse played game. Still don’t know how we won this one. Teams know we can’t run, now starting to key on our passing game.

PMC

November 18th, 2012
8:07 pm

Oh I believe in Matt Ryan if he ever plays with an Elite line, but he’s abysmal under pressure.

Its hard to see how this group will ever win in the post season. They don’t seem to do anything well.

PMC

November 18th, 2012
8:09 pm

If you are celebrating this as a win you are crazy. This is the worst football game I think I’ve ever seen played at any level.

Oh'man

November 18th, 2012
8:10 pm

I was actually laughing when Ryan threw his third, fourth and fifth interception because I knew it wasn’t our day at all. I wouldn’t be concerned at all about Ryan’s poor play today. Its one of those once in a blue moon things. The only thing I will be concerned about is our short yards conversions. We are like 80 percent in third and really long but we are terrible when its third and short. The bad thing about that is the coach keeps calling running plays! The defense knows you are going to run the ball which means you have to pass it. Hopefully Dirk recognizes that because this has been a problem for us the past three years!

BFalcon

November 18th, 2012
8:11 pm

Ok, a win is a win. Quote me on this Mattt Ryan is not an elite qb yet. All but one of the int he threw was his fault. I think we are in trouble next week at Bucs. We cannot stop the run.Falcons need another TE to help out in passing game. Look at some of the successful teams in nfl that throw the ball well. NE, Denver, Texans, GB…they all have 2 TE that can work the middle of field and who can block.

Falcon James

November 18th, 2012
8:11 pm

MTSeats- Don’t forget you buy a 12 pack for what you pay for a single beer and a T-Bone Steak for what they want for a hot dog. The only down side to watching at home is you have to list to Chris Collinsworth calling the games.

The 27th

November 18th, 2012
8:13 pm

Im still trying to figuire out how we won. That was the worst game we played so far and if we play like that against Tampa we will get killed. The only reason we won was because of our defense and thats not saying much considering how sorry the Cards offense is. I really hope we adjust and fix our glaring issues or we are in trouble.

Falcon James

November 18th, 2012
8:14 pm

The Falcon need to watch the Saint to see what you supposed to do to a inferior team and the Saint aren’t really that good.

True Falcon Fan

November 18th, 2012
8:32 pm

Stinky, Ugly, Both sides of the ball, we were due, and probably as ugly as the DROOL from the ZERO’s mouth.
Wow, I will take the win, man was it ugly.

Hope the injury list is short??????

Go Falcons —- Bucs next

9-1 means nothing...

November 18th, 2012
8:45 pm

…or put another way, dome field advantage means nothing. This team has no depth and are banged up at the midway point. This is the norm in the NFL fo

Dogmatic meme

November 18th, 2012
8:47 pm

whats up? dog

Dogmatic meme

November 18th, 2012
8:47 pm

Dogmatic meme

November 18th, 2012
8:54 pm

talks like a girl

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 18th, 2012
8:55 pm

The defense has been playing well. It’s the offense – especially the OL that is struggling.