Archive for December, 2012

Atlanta Falcons: Tony Gonzalez: ‘Proving people wrong’ makes 13th Pro Bowl sweetest

FLOWERY BRANCH—Going to the Pro Bowl isn’t getting old for Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez in part because it proves he’s not too old.

Gonzalez, 36, was voted to his 13th Pro Bowl team on Wednesday. He said this year’s honor might mean more than the others.

“Because the older you get the more people start to doubt you,” he said. “Just because of human nature. ‘You are getting old, there is no way you can move around like you used to.’ I’ve been hearing that. ‘Oh, he’s lost a step, he’s not as fast as he used to be.’

“It’s nice to go out there and play well and tell them, ‘What do you got to say now?’ That’s part of the fun is proving people wrong.”

Gonzalez reiterated his season-long stance that he’s most likely retiring after the season. When a reporter told him he’d said he’s “90 percent” sure, Gonzalez reminded him that he actually said he’s 95 percent sure.

“I see what you are trying to do,” Gonzalez joked. “Jedi mind trick.”

As Gonzalez’s career winds down, Julio …

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Atlanta Falcons: Ryan named NFC player of the week

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has been named NFC offensive player of the week for his performance in Atlanta’s 31-18 win over the Detroit Lions in Week 16.

Ryan completed 25 of 32 pass attempts (78.1 percent) for 279 yards, four touchdown passes and a 142.6 passer rating, leading the Falcons to an NFL-best 13-2 record with their win over the Detroit Lions.

Ryan’s four touchdown passes tied his career high while his 142.6 QB rating tied the second best of his career.

He also tied Steve Bartkowski’s club record for touchdown passes in a single season with 31.

Dating back to the Atlanta’s Week 15 win over the New York Giants, Ryan set a franchise record by completing 22 consecutive pass attempts, including his first 12 passes in Saturday night’s game.

Ryan’s streak of 22 straight completions is tied for the third longest in NFL history. In the win, Ryan also improved his franchise records for passing yards and completions in a single season.

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Atlanta Falcons: Finishing regular season ‘the right way’

FLOWERY BRANCH–The Falcons already have wrapped up the NFC’s No. 1 seed but they don’t plan to take their foot off the gas against the Buccaneers on Sunday.

The Falcons want to stay sharp heading into their bye week. They think the best way to do that is for the starters to play and try to win the regular-season finale even if it doesn’t affect their playoff standing.

“We are not going to change the way we approach this game,” safety Thomas DeCoud said. “We are going to attack it like it’s week three. We’re all expecting to play and all expecting to play well. We have to put our best foot forward before the postseason.”

The Falcons turned in strong efforts in victories against the Giants and Lions. They think easing off now would set a bad precedent.

“We are trying to keep the momentum going,” center Todd McClure said. “I feel like offensively we’ve played well the past few games. And the more we can go out there and put on tape, whoever we have to prepare for the harder …

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Atlanta Falcons: Ryan, Gonzalez, Jones named to Pro Bowl

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, tight end Tony Gonzalez and second-year wide receiver Julio Jones were named to the NFC’s Pro Bowl team on Wednesday.

Ryan has guided the Falcons to a 13-2 mark, the NFC South title and the No. 1 seed for the playoffs.

The 24-man rosters for each the AFC and NFC, plus five special-teams players were announced on NFL Network.

Atlanta’s star players hope to be occupied with preparing for the Super Bowl in New Orleans instead of the NFL’s all-star game in Hawaii. The teams playing in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3 don’t send players to the Pro Bowl on Jan. 27.

The Falcons had several players who could have been honored as they have the best record in the NFC.

The AFC and NFC squads are based on the votes of players, coaches and fans with each group’s vote counting for one-third. The voting for all three groups ended last week.

In addition to Ryan, Gonzalez and Jones, other Atlanta candidates were wide receiver Roddy White, defensive end John Abraham and …

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Atlanta Falcons: Safety William Moore to miss fourth straight game

By Michael Cunningham

FLOWERY BRANCH–Falcons coach Mike Smith said today he expects starting safety William Moore will miss Sunday’s regular-season finale against Tampa Bay because of a hamstring injury.

Moore missed the previous three games with the injury. Smith said Moore hasn’t been medically cleared to play.

“I would like for William to be ready to go but the doctors have got to make that determination,” Smith said. “We’re to a point in the process that we need to get him as healthy as can be. I would say that he’s not going to play in the game this week. That would be our take on it.”

The Falcons have a bye next week before opening the playoffs on Jan. 12 or 13.

Falcons players who sat out practice today in addition to Moore were wide receiver Roddy White (knee), cornerback Christopher Owens (hamstring) and defensive end Cliff Matthews (hamstring).

White was on the injury report before the past two games but started both. Owens left Saturday’s game at Detroit with his …

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Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan Q-and-A

By Michael Cunningham

FLOWERY BRANCH–Quarterback Matt Ryan is peaking at the perfect time for the Falcons. In victories against the Giants and Lions Ryan was 48 for 60 passing (80 percent) for 549 yards passing and seven touchdowns with no interceptions.

Here are some excerpts from Ryan’s session with reporters today.

Q: When you are feeling pressure in the pocket do you have guidelines as far as when to check down and when to stay with the play or is that more of a feel thing?

A: It’s a feel thing. I think you have to have an internal clock, a feel for when the ball needs to come out, whether sliding and making something happen and extending a play with your legs or checking that football down. That was something I thought was important for us last week.

Q: Is that one of the subtleties of playing your position?

A: I think that’s something that takes time to really learn. I think it’s something I’ve done better this year.

Q: From the time when you came into the league …

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Atlanta Falcons: Pro Bowl teams announced Wednesday

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White runs for a 39-yard touchdown during the second quarter. (Duane Burleson/Associated Press)

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White runs for a 39-yard touchdown during the second quarter. (Duane Burleson/Associated Press)

By MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM

FLOWERY BRANCH — The Falcons don’t want to send any players to the NFL’s Pro Bowl game.

That’s not because they lack candidates. Atlanta’s star players hope to be occupied with preparing for the Super Bowl in New Orleans instead of the NFL’s all-star game in Hawaii.

The 24-man rosters for each the AFC and NFC, plus five special-teams players, will be announced on NFL Network Wednesday night. The teams playing in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3 don’t send players to the Pro Bowl on Jan. 27.

The Falcons have several players who could be honored—as expected for the team that will finish the season with the best record in the NFC.

“We’ve got a lot of guys deserving to be recognized and we certainly hope they will be,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said.

The AFC and NFC squads are based on the votes of players, coaches and fans with each …

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Falcons wait for playoff picture to clear

By MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM

FLOWERY BRANCH — After the Falcons earned the NFC’s top playoff seed on Saturday night, coach Mike Smith didn’t plan on watching the rest of the conference play on Sunday.

He figured there’s no use in checking in on Atlanta’s competition until the picture gets clearer.

“I don’t try to watch scoreboards,” Smith said the day after the Falcons won 31-18 at Detroit. “It’s going to fall into place. … There is a lot of football to be played. A lot of things happen this week and next week as far as who plays who and who plays where.”

Atlanta is the only team in the NFC that already knows the “where” part. The Falcons, on either Jan. 12 or 13, will play host to the lowest-seeded NFC team to advance from first round of the playoffs the week before.

The rest of the NFC contenders are still jockeying for position.

The Packers and 49ers are vying for the other first-round bye. The Packers can finish no worse than the third seed, which means Atlanta has no chance …

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PLAYOFF BUZZ: If the playoffs started today . . .

By MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM

NFC top contenders

The Falcons (13-2) have clinched a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Atlanta would open the playoffs on Jan. 12 or 13 against the lowest-seeded team to advance from the NFC wild card round.

The Packers (11-4) have clinched the NFC North title and will be the NFC’s No. 2 seed with a first-round bye. Green Bay would open the playoffs on Jan. 12 or 13 with a home game against the highest-seeded winner from the NFC wild card round.

NFC wild card picture

The 49ers (10-4-1) have clinched a playoff spot and would play host to the sixth-seeded Vikings (9-6) on Jan. 5 or 6. The No. 5 Seahawks (10-5) have clinched a playoff spot and would play at the No. 4 Redskins (9-6) on Jan. 5 or 6.

The other teams with a realistic chance to still earn one of the final two wild cards are the Bears (9-6) and Cowboys (8-7). The Giants (8-7) also have an outside shot.

How Vegas views the Falcons

The Falcons are 9-to-4 …

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Atlanta Falcons: Joe Hawley added to active roster

The Falcons today added reserve offensive lineman Joe Hawley to the active roster and placed wide receiver Kevin Cone on injured reserve.

Hawley returned to practice last week after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The Falcons had a week to decide whether to activate him.

Hawley’s agent, Kevin Omell, said Hawley tested positive for Adderall.

Hawley played in six games before his suspension. He started 12 games last season.

Cone played in 12 games this season, mostly on special teams.

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