Archive for the ‘Focal’ Category

Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan leads victory over Lions for NFC’s top seed

DETROIT—Any opponent coming to the Georgia Dome in the playoffs will have to deal with the Falcons and their sizzling quarterback.

Matt Ryan staggered the Lions early and finished them off late for a 31-18 Falcons victory Saturday night at Ford Field. The Falcons (13-2) will be the NFC’s top seed with a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs.

Now the Falcons will try to parlay the NFC’s top seed into postseason success. They couldn’t do it in 2010, when they also posted the NFC’s best record only to lose 48-21 to the Packers in the divisional playoffs round.

“It’s in the back of our minds,” Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud said of that game. “But we know we are a different team than we were two years ago with the passion we play with and the play-making ability is much higher than we had two years ago.”

Atlanta’s victory over Detroit rendered moot the result of next Sunday’s regular-season finale against Tampa Bay at the Georgia …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan leads victory over Lions for NFC’s top seed »

GAMEDAY CENTRAL: Falcons (12-2) at Lions (4-10) at 8:30 p.m. Saturday

QB corner: Matt Ryan discusses the Lions

Last season, the marauding Lions defensive front got after  Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

Ryan was sacked three times and hit six times as he finished with a passer rating of 63.1 in the 23-16 victory.

Garrett Reynolds lost his starting right guard job after the game.

There was a scary moment when it appeared Ryan suffered a gruesome foot or knee injury and Chris Redman took over.

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

Q: How would you describe Ndamukong Suh?

A: Talented player, very talented player. He’s got great strength. He’s quick off the ball. Really good pass rusher, one of the best pass rushers for an interior guy in the league. And a guy who is relentless, plays to the whistle. He’s certainly someone you have to account for.

Q: Does Falcons coach Mike Smith have to remind guys what is at stake this week?

A: No, I don’t think so. I think everybody understands …

Continue reading GAMEDAY CENTRAL: Falcons (12-2) at Lions (4-10) at 8:30 p.m. Saturday »

Atlanta Falcons: Could Douglas takeover for ‘Fair Catch Franks’ in the playoffs?

110812 Atlanta - Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dominique Franks breaks away for his second long return against the Dolphins during 2nd half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, August 12, 2011.      Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

110812 Atlanta – Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dominique Franks breaks away for his second long return against the Dolphins during 2nd half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Friday, August 12, 2011. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

FLOWERY BRANCH — Until last Sunday, Dominique Franks had never played safety. But he was called in replace Hope when he left the game to be examined for a head injury.

“You just always have to be ready,” Franks said. “I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can. I got a chance to get out there and play a little bit of safety.”

Franks has played outside at cornerback and has been the primary nickel back, covering receivers in the slot. At safety, it’s a whole new ball game.

“Really, you have to be more patient,” Franks said. “You are the last defense back there. You have to make sure that you don’t give up the big play and if anything breaks, you’ve got to come up and make sure you make the tackle.”

Franks returns: Some …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Could Douglas takeover for ‘Fair Catch Franks’ in the playoffs? »

Video: Falcons practice report

The Atlanta Falcons can clinch home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs by defeating the Detroit Lions on Saturday night. The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter reports from Falcons practice.

LATEST NEWS

Still no consistent running game with playoffs near

Lesson learned, Falcons expect focused effort at Detroit

Safety William Moore misses practice

If the playoffs started today . . .

One win away from wrapping up home-field advantage

Falcons look ‘Super’ in 34-0 rout of the Giants

Defense rides fourth down stops to shutout of Giants

QUOTES: What they said after the 34-0 Falcons victory

Diving intervention: Lord tells Roddy to play vs. Giants

Video: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan’s post-game comments

OTHER RECENT STORIES

Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon takes over as leader of the defense

Falcons rewind: Reeves reflects on march to the Super Bowl

Who’s the best receiving tandem? Roddy & Julio? Cruz & Nicks?

Atlanta Falcons: Quarterback Matt Ryan is not going over the physical …

Continue reading Video: Falcons practice report »

Atlanta Falcons: Still no consistent running game with playoffs near

FLOWERY BRANCH–The numbers suggest that, even as they steamrolled the Giants on Sunday, the Falcons still could not run the ball effectively.

Atlanta’s 3.6 yards-per-carry average against New York (not including kneel-downs by quarterbacks) was worse than its lackluster season average to that point. That number was inflated by some late dashes by Jason Snelling with the 34-0 victory in hand and also is well short of the 4-plus yards per attempt coach Mike Smith considers to be ideal.

Yet Smith looks at what Atlanta’s running game accomplished against the Giants beyond the numbers and declared it a success.

The Falcons opened the game with four straight run calls, netting a touchdown on a short field. They squeezed out rushing yards to stay out of some bad down-and-distance situations. Atlanta also succeeded in keeping the Giants off balance with an assortment of formations, run types and personnel to set up passes.

Not all of that is reflected in the final rushing …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Still no consistent running game with playoffs near »

Atlanta Falcons: Lesson learned, Falcons vow focused effort at Detroit

FLOWERY BRANCH–The Falcons can solidify their postseason positioning with a road victory against a struggling opponent on Saturday.

Faced a similar situation two games ago, the Falcons fell flat at Carolina. They are vowing not to do the same at Detroit (4-10) with home-field advantage for the NFC playoffs within reach.

“I think we learned our lesson from the Carolina game,” Falcons running back Michael Turner said. “We are not taking anything for granted. We’ve still got work to do. We’ve still got things to get better at. They are going to give us their best shot. We know that.”

Some players admitted to becoming too relaxed in their preparation for the Panthers game, which followed a tough victory against the rival Saints. After the humbling 30-20 defeat at Carolina, the Falcons responded with what they said was a focused week of practice before their 34-0 victory against the Giants on Sunday.

Coach Mike Smith doesn’t expect a repeat of the lax …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: Lesson learned, Falcons vow focused effort at Detroit »

Atlanta Falcons: One win away from wrapping up home-field advantage

FLOWERY BRANCH — Asante Samuel is the Falcons’ resident expert on the importance of momentum entering the playoffs.

He should know. Samuel is the proud owner of two Super Bowl rings — XXXVIII and XXXIX.

He experienced a seismic momentum roll during his rookie season with the New England Patriots, who took a 12-game winning streak into the playoffs and steamrolled Tennessee, Indianapolis and Carolina on their way to the Vince Lombardi trophy.

One year later, the Patriots had less velocity, entering the postseason with just a two-game winning streak. But they still generated enough momentum to beat Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and become the last team to win back-to-back Super Bowl titles.

What does Samuel think now?

“I think (Sunday) was the best game that we put together so far,” the cornerback said of the Falcons’ 34-0 thrashing of the New York Giants. “We just want to take this momentum that we’ve got and ride it into the playoffs. That’s how …

Continue reading Atlanta Falcons: One win away from wrapping up home-field advantage »

Report card: Falcons earn high marks in win over Giants

Here are the Falcons’ grades for the 34-0 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants on Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

GAME BALLS: Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon for leading a spirited defensive effort and the offensive line for battling the mighty Giants defensive line rotation.

A — Quarterbacks: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan broke a pair of his own franchise records. He topped his club record for passing yards in a single season. After just 14 games he has 4,202 yards for the season. Ryan threw for 4,177 yards in 2011. Ryan also broke his club record for completions in a season, as he has connected on 369 passes this season. He set the franchise record with 357 completions in 2010. Ryan is the only quarterback in team history to throw for more than 4,000 yards in consecutive seasons. Ryan finished the game completing 23 of 28 passes (82.1 percent) for 270 yards with three touchdowns and a 142.6 passer rating. His 82.1 completion percentage is the second …

Continue reading Report card: Falcons earn high marks in win over Giants »

Matt Ryan breaks his own passing records vs. Giants

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan broke a pair of his own franchise records in the 34-0 victory over the Giants on Sunday.

He topped his club record for passing yards in a single season. After just 14 games he has 4,202 yards for the season. Ryan threw for 4,177 yards in 2011.

Ryan also broke his club record for completions in a season, as he has connected on 369 passes this season. He  set the franchise record with 357 completions in 2010.

Ryan is the only quarterback in team history to throw for more than 4,000 yards in consecutive seasons.

Ryan finished the game completing 23 of 28 passes (82.1 percent) for 270 yards with three touchdowns and a 142.6 passer rating. His 82.1 completion percentage is the second highest of his career, trailing his 24 of 28 (85.7) performance against Green Bay on Nov. 28, 2010.

The win over the Giants marked the 32nd time in his career that Ryan has posted a passer rating of 100-or-higher. The Falcons are 31-1 in those games, including a 20-0 …

Continue reading Matt Ryan breaks his own passing records vs. Giants »

Falcons look ‘Super’ in rout of the Giants, 34-0

Falcons tight end TonyGonzalez dunks the ball over the goalpost after scoring against the Giants for a 14-0 lead during 1st quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Falcons tight end TonyGonzalez dunks the ball over the goalpost after scoring against the Giants for a 14-0 lead during 1st quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

The Falcons may be the most ridiculed double-digit win team in recent NFL history. Unimpressive. Easy schedule. Lucky.

For now, the Falcons just want to be called ‘Super,’ as in Super Bowl champions, if not at least legitimate contenders. They were nothing but dominant in routing the defending NFL champion New York Giants 34-0 on Sunday at a raucous Georgia Dome.

“We love the haters,” said cornerback Asante Samuel, who started the party with an interception on the second play of the game. “The haters keep us going. So keep the hate coming. It makes us play with a chip on our shoulders. We love that.”

The Falcons improved to 12-2 and inched closer to wrapping up home-field advantage in the playoffs while recording their 11th straight …

Continue reading Falcons look ‘Super’ in rout of the Giants, 34-0 »