Archive for November, 2012

Atlanta Falcons: Turner becomes franchise’s all-time TD leader

It was the fourth consecutive home game in which Turner has scored a rushing touchdown. With the 58th score of his tenure as a Falcon, Turner broke the mark previously held by Falcons wide receiver Terance Mathis, who played in Atlanta from 1994 to 2001.

With the Falcons determined to run on the Saints, Turner had 67 yards on five carries in the first quarter. That total was more than he gained in all but three other games this season.

Turner was held to 17 yards on 13 carries Sunday against Tampa Bay.

In the previous meeting with the Saints, Turner was held to 15 yards on 13 carries and was stopped on a key third-and-goal from the 1-yard line with 1:56 to play in the 31-27 loss.

112912 ATLANTA: The Falcons are off and running against the Saints with Michael Turner getting past Jonathan Vilma for yardage during 1st quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Thursday, November 29, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

112912 ATLANTA: The Falcons are off and running against the Saints with Michael Turner getting past Jonathan Vilma for yardage during 1st quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Thursday, November 29, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Player safety: Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, …

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Falcons avenge their only loss to improve to 11-1

The Falcons avenged their only loss of the season Thursday night.

They jumped on their arch-rival New Orleans Saints early, and their defense held on for a 23-13 victory in front of 70,514 fans at the Georgia Dome.

The defense came up with five interceptions to derail the Saints’ potent offense as the Falcons improved to 11-1 on the season and inched closer to the NFC South division title and a playoff berth. They also ended Drew Brees’ NFL-record streak of touchdown passes.

112912 ATLANTA: The Falcons are off and running against the Saints with Michael Turner getting past Jonathan Vilma for yardage during 1st quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Thursday, November 29, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

112912 ATLANTA: The Falcons are off and running against the Saints with Michael Turner getting past Jonathan Vilma for yardage during 1st quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Thursday, November 29, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

“I think tonight, that was a really good win for our football team,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “I felt our defense played a tremendous game. Anytime that you pick off five passes in a ball game. You’ve done a nice job.”

The Saints, who have been …

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Atlanta Falcons: Asante Samuel active for tonight’s game

Julio Jones and Asante Samuel after last weeks win in Tampa Bay. (Associated Press)

Julio Jones and Asante Samuel after last weeks win in Tampa Bay. (Associated Press)

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel, who has a shoulder injury and was listed as questionable, will be active for tonight’s game against the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome.

Defensive tackle Peria Jerry, who has a quadriceps injury and was listed as questionable, was declared inactive.

Quarterback Dominique Davis, defensive end Lawrence Sidbury, wide receiver Tim Toone, guard Harland Gunn, tackle Lamar Holmes, safety Charles Mitchell and guard Phillipkeith Manley were also declared inactive.

The Saints declared inactives were wide receiver Courtney Roby, safety Isa Abdul-Quddus, linebacker Scott Shanle, tackle Charles Brown, tight end Dave Thomas, defensive end Junior Gallette and defensive tackle Tom Johnson.

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With Sean Weatherspoon back, run defense …

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Will Curtis Lofton get booed on his return to the Georgia Dome?

Connections: Lofton set to make his Georgia Dome debut as a Saint

FLOWERY BRANCH — Former Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton is set to make his debut as a visitor at the Georgia Dome.

New Orleans Saints linebackers Curtis Lofton (50) and Will Herring (54) during OTA workouts at their NFL football training facility in Metairie, La., Thursday, May 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

New Orleans Saints linebackers Curtis Lofton (50) and Will Herring (54) during OTA workouts at their NFL football training facility in Metairie, La., Thursday, May 31, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

“There’s going to be a lot of mixed emotions,” said Lofton, earlier this week said the Saints don’t view the game as a rivalry. “It’s going to be a weird feeling seeing all of the people, the security guards and ticket people. I was good friends with them, and it’ll be good to see them.”

Lofton wants to put on a show for the team that balked at re-signing him in free agency.

“I want to play great, but I’m not going to put more pressure on myself, put on a Superman cap and do this and do that,” Lofton said. “I’m going to play inside the system.”

Other connections include:

  • Falcons general manager Thomas …

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Atlanta Falcons: Falcons could damage Saints faint playoff hopes

Saints RB Chris Ivory stiff arms Falcons CB Dunta Robinson en route to his 56-yard TD run. (Associated Press)

Saints RB Chris Ivory stiff arms Falcons CB Dunta Robinson en route to his 56-yard TD run. (Associated Press)

FLOWERY BRANCH — The Falcons could put one of the final nails in the Saints’ bounty-season-from-woe coffin with a victory Thursday night at the Georgia Dome.

From the start of the season, the Saints have been in scramble mode without their head coach, Sean Payton. They lost their first four games, but scrambled back onto the fringes of the NFC playoff picture and are 5-6 this season.

The last team the 10-1 Falcons, who are tied for the best record in the NFL, would like to see in the divisional round of the playoffs is their nemesis, the Saints.

The Falcons are aware of the circumstances, but aren’t motivated by the thought of delivering the Saints’ frail playoff hopes a near-death blow.

“Not really,” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “I don’t think you can worry about what other people have going on. We have enough issues ourselves.”

The Falcons have been ever so polite …

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GAMEDAY CENTRAL: Saints vs. Falcons at 8:20 p.m. tonight

QB corner: Matt Ryan discusses the Saints

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has a 2-6 record against the New Orleans Saints and hasn’t beaten them at the Georgia Dome since his rookie season in 2008.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws an 80-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Julio Jones during the third quarter of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws an 80-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Julio Jones during the third quarter of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)

The Falcons are 31-6 at the Dome over Ryan’s career, but three of those losses were to the Saints.

Ryan believes the fans’ support can help the 10-1 Falcons beat those pesky Saints.

“Anytime you play at home, it certainly helps,” Ryan said. “Our fans have given unbelievable support, and that’s been awesome.”

Here’s a brief Q&A involving Ryan and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Michael Cunningham.

Q: Will the Falcons do anything different against the Saints this time around?

A: The last time we played them we fell short a little bit in …

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Saints (5-6) at Falcons (10-1): 3 key matchups

Tony Gonzalez can still rise up and dunk the ball.

Tony Gonzalez can still rise up and dunk the ball.

Saints TE Jimmy Graham vs. Falcons SS William Moore and LB Sean Weatherspoon: Graham has 55 catches for 595 yards and eight touchdowns. In the team’s earlier meeting this season, on Nov. 11, with Sean Weatherspoon out because of an ankle injury, Graham abused the Falcons’ secondary. He finished with seven catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Moore was beaten on a double-move route in that game and has vowed that he will atone with stronger coverage. Weatherspoon is much better in coverage than strongside linebacker Stephen Nicholas, who covered Graham on Nov. 11.

Saints WR Lance Moore vs. Falcons CB Robert McClain or Christopher Owens: Moore, a noted Falcons-killer, is the team’s fourth leading receiver. He had seven catches for 91 yards in the previous matchup. McClain is the top nickel, but may have to slide outside to right cornerback if Asante Samuel’s injured shoulder flares up during the game. Owens, one of the …

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Atlanta Falcons: Tony Gonzalez plans to enjoy the moment; still 95 percent on retirement

Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) warms up before the start of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) warms up before the start of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez, who is on pace for 100 catches this season, has been consistent with the issue of his retirement.

“I am still at that 95 percent,” Gonzalez said. “But I am having great time. This is one of the funnest seasons I’ve ever had in my life and obviously being 10-1 will help that. This is a great group of guys. I love playing in this offense. There are a lot of reasons to stick around. Maybe I’m just stupid.”

Despite that Gonzalez will turn 37 in February, it appears that he could still play at a high level. Family concerns and being able to maintain his high standards are vital to the 16-year veteran.

He doesn’t want to be one of those players who stays, too long.

Last season, Gonzalez and the Falcons ended the drama early. He was signed to a …

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Atlanta Falcons: Official NFL playoff scenarios for Week 13

FLOWERY BRANCH — The NFL has released their first 2012 NFL playoff scenarios for this season:

Here’s at look:

NFC

CLINCHED: None

ATLANTA FALCONS

Atlanta clinches NFC South division with:

1) ATL win + TB loss or tie OR

2) ATL tie + TB loss

Atlanta clinches a playoff spot with:

1) ATL win + SEA loss or tie OR

2) ATL tie + SEA loss + MIN loss

AFC

CLINCHED: None

HOUSTON TEXANS

Houston clinches a playoff spot with:

1) HOU win or tie OR

2) MIA loss or tie + PIT loss or tie OR

3) MIA loss or tie + CIN loss or tie OR

4) PIT loss + CIN loss

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Baltimore clinches AFC North division with:

1) BAL win + CIN loss

Baltimore clinches a playoff spot with:

1) BAL win OR

2) BAL tie + CIN loss + MIA loss or tie

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

New England clinches AFC East division with:

1) NE win

DENVER BRONCOS

Denver clinches AFC West division with:

1) DEN win OR

2) DEN tie + SD loss or tie OR

3) SD loss

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Atlanta Falcons: Dunta Robinson returned practice; Samuel, Jerry questionable

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson returned to practice on Wednesday.

Cornerback Asante Samuel and defensive tackle Peria Jerry did not practice and both were listed as questionable on the injury report.

WR Harry Douglas (ankle), FS Charles Mitchell (calf), LB Stephen Nicholas (knee), LT Sam Baker (groin), WR Kevin Cone (groin), TE Michael Palmer (back), DT Vance Walker (ribs) and LB  Sean Weatherspoon (ankle) were all listed as probable for the game.

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