Roddy White’s day shows Falcons the possibilities

This is what elite receivers do. This one-handed catch was one of Roddy White's 11 catches covering 201 yards. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

This one-handed grab was one of Roddy White's 11 catches, two for TDs. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Nothing like a little drama, right? The Falcons turned a 24-3 lead into a 25-24 deficit and suddenly nobody at the Georgia Dome knew whether they were a Super Bowl contender or a genetic mutation from the Marion Campbell era, returning for a haunting.

But they won, and it’s important to remember how they won. They were aggressive. They attacked. They didn’t run an offense like you would throw a dart. They ran an offense like you would fire a bazooka.

Remember this game. Because if the Falcons go on to make something special of this season, it will be partly because of the lessons learned in Sunday’s frenetic 39-32 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Matt Ryan threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns. He even passed on third and short. Roddy White had the kind of game Jerry Rice used to have: 11 catches covering 201 yards, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion — those last eight points giving the Falcons the lead back immediately following a third-quarter, 22-point meltdown. He couldn’t be stopped.

“We’ve been doing some good things with the offense but today we took a lot of shots down field,” White said. “We were more aggressive with the play-calling and it paid off.”

Behold, the offense.

Falcons coach Mike Smith is old school. He’s all about physical play on defense and running the ball on offense. That’s fine to a point. The problem here is that the Falcons have weapons that at times haven’t been fully utilized.

It also has seemed that Ryan has been kept under wraps more in season three than he was in season one. Whether that has been the decision of Smith or offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, or just perception, can’t be certain.  But there’s little question what we saw Sunday is not what we’ve been seeing lately. In the last three weeks, there were unimpressive victories over San Francisco and Cleveland and an ugly loss at Philadelphia.

Criticism of the offensive philosophy and play-calling grew as loud as it ever had been since the latest regime took over. And, yes, some of it was internal.

When asked jokingly if players had been standing outside coaches’ offices carrying torches, wide receiver Brian Finneran smiled and responded: “No, but I’m sure they heard the rumblings.”

The Falcons didn’t need a completely new offensive identity. They just needed to improve the old one. There’s no reason to be an eight-track offense in a digital world.

How much better does the running game get if a defense knows Ryan is willing to come out firing?

Appropriately, White was the centerpiece Sunday. He should be the centerpiece every week. As Smith conceded: “He’s probably been our best player through the first seven games. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.”

The Falcons believe White is an elite receiver. It’s why they gave him a six-year, $48 million contract last year. When there are that many zeroes on a contract, you should expect performances like this.

On the third play from scrimmage, White burned the Bengals for 46 yards on a crossing route. Two plays later, on second and 12, he caught a high bullet from Ryan for 18 yards at the Bengals’ 14, setting up the game’s first touchdown.

White opened the second quarter with his best catch of the day. Going against Adam “Pacman” Jones in single coverage down the right sideline, he made a one-handed grab of a Ryan throw for a 23-yard gain at the Cincinnati 33. Later in the quarter, on third and one from the Bengals’ 43, White again beat Jones in single coverage for a touchdown.

“That was a huddle call [by Ryan],” White said. “We haven’t thrown the ball out of that formation all year. That was our shot.”

White played a role in the blown lead. With the Falcons ahead 24-19, he made a catch but was stripped by Jones, who returned it 59 yards for a score. But Ryan drove the Falcons right back, finishing an eight-play touchdown drive with an 11-yard pass to White. Moments later, White leaped through the ozone for a two-point conversion.

“Hopefully,” center Todd McClure said, “this is a formula for success that we can use every week.”

Now there’s a concept.

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

244 comments Add your comment

Deliverance

October 24th, 2010
7:06 pm

Deliverance

October 24th, 2010
7:06 pm

Deliverance

October 24th, 2010
7:07 pm

Roddy White is the best receiver in the NFL.

JSS

October 24th, 2010
7:10 pm

We were horrid, we were racial, politically incorrect, and pretty much barn yard animals… All and all, typical AJC Blog! ;-)

Jamaaliver

October 24th, 2010
7:10 pm

Roddy’s evolution into an elite WR is stupefying…and stupendous. Great game by Roddy, lots of coaching miscues to be corrected in the bye week though. (Where was the run game in that 3rd quarter?)

Good win at home for 5-2. The Bucs won and Saints loss, big for the division lead. Geaux Falcons!!!

Our time!!!!

Deliverance

October 24th, 2010
7:11 pm

Shultz, I can’t wait to read your next column about college football. As a huge Auburn fan, I’m excited that we beat two great SEC teams in back to back weeks.

JSS

October 24th, 2010
7:14 pm

White had the game that we prayed for years ago… I thought he turned the corner in SF last year. However he still took some games off. Nevertheless, he really seems to finally put in gear every play now… I hope that he finally sends George Stewart a thank you note and some ducketts. That guy lost his then good name over Roddy White…

Jeff Schultz

October 24th, 2010
7:16 pm

Deliverance — Win. Place. Show!

Ivan

October 24th, 2010
7:17 pm

Roddy White is just amazing. Arguably the best receiver Atlanta’s had. Amazing how this kid has come so far after the team picked up a real QB.

Jeff Schultz

October 24th, 2010
7:17 pm

JSS — You are da man. One day, we shall drink heavily on my company’s dime (and I will hide it on an expense account as lunch in Raleigh).

Jeff Schultz

October 24th, 2010
7:17 pm

Deliverance — I’d imagine I will be writing something on Georgia-Florida Tuesday (online, for Wed. print). Thanks.

Jeff Schultz

October 24th, 2010
7:19 pm

JSS — I’m glad you mentioned George Stewart. He’s a terrific coach.

stendek

October 24th, 2010
7:21 pm

I enjoyed W as much as anyone but please delay Roddy White coronation for a bit longer. It was a fumble by this elite receiver which went for Bengal TD. Do not get get me wrong. I went from detractor to supporter after he swiped 49ers game for Falcons. Just waiting a while before I christen White as next Fred (former Raider sorry cannot spell last name). Super Bowl contender would have put 60 points on Cincy. Elit team would NEVER have fallen behind. Saw far too many missed tackles for my liking. Falcon took terrible angle on long TD run when full pressure was rightfully called. Have to be able to cover guy for couple of seconds. Or at least make a tackle. Matt Ryan interception was painful and unnecessary. Overthrow if need be but never underthrow! Oh well. First place. STENDEK

DeepDiver

October 24th, 2010
7:21 pm

The Falcons blog is where Atlanta’s worst come for stimulating discourse. Makes me ashamed to call myself an Atlantan and reinforces all the ugly stereotypes about the South.

5150 P.O.A.D.

October 24th, 2010
7:22 pm

JSS
be nice
Great game just got a few grey hairs during the 3rd quarter. Exciting and Scary but we won.

Deliverance

October 24th, 2010
7:22 pm

For anyone who still isn’t impressed with Cam Newton. He shredded LSU’s defense.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Siq68WMuUV4&feature=player_embedded

Jeff Schultz

October 24th, 2010
7:23 pm

Stendek — I’m not excusing White’s fumble at all but it was a pretty impressive strip by Pacman. He really ripped it out. As for coronation, I wrote Roddy was an elite receiver a year and a half ago and he deserved to be paid like it.

Hit A Single

October 24th, 2010
7:25 pm

TO. who? Where will he go next year in his search for a championship? I hate to tell him but he is not championship material.

stendek

October 24th, 2010
7:25 pm

Agreed Jeff. Nice catch. Without strip. Roddy White HAS impressed me this season. Only see him getting better. @ _ @ STENDEK

JSS

October 24th, 2010
7:25 pm

Don’t drink alcohol except when I got married… But thanks for the thought… I’m serious about George Stewart. He took heat that should not have been directed at him for White and Jenkins… You can’t coach Rice and T.O. and not know what you’re doing…

stendek

October 24th, 2010
7:27 pm

There are other blogs DeepDiver. @ ^ @ STENDEK All of us want Falcons to succeed!

B-Rad

October 24th, 2010
7:27 pm

Oh!! It’s your time allright!! Come again?? What’s that?? Ahhhhhhh, the predictable silence. Then again, it’s “our” time. Miss you….mean it!! hahhahahahahahaha what poser!! U emit a foul odor! Go away and be done, you front running yackoff!!!!!!!!

JSS

October 24th, 2010
7:28 pm

I was nice, that last blog was looney tunes after the game, equal blame all around!

stendek

October 24th, 2010
7:28 pm

I really dislike two Cincy receivers! Has nothing to do with football. Both are conceded arrogant loudmouths! STENDEK

idot

October 24th, 2010
7:29 pm

stendek……..Can’t you just enjoy a Falcons win without complaining?

B-Rad

October 24th, 2010
7:32 pm

Seen This?????? Your absence runs parallell to the Saints failure. SHOCKING.

JSS

October 24th, 2010
7:32 pm

We got to see good receiving shows on both sides of the field… I have no complaints on that matter…

Jeff Schultz

October 24th, 2010
7:35 pm

I’ll be going back through the live blog later to delete some comments (I’ve already deleted a few) but if anybody recalls any comments or commenters I should look out for, I’ll take all suggestions.

stendek

October 24th, 2010
7:35 pm

Idot. Criticism of areas which I foresee will cause problems for Falcons in immediate future is not complaining. True professionals always put win or loss behind them to focus on next challenge. A TD win over a team owned by Falcons is cause for reflection. Win is nice. Problems must be resolved before they recur. Sorry that offends you. STENDEK

JSS

October 24th, 2010
7:36 pm

Are you going to see the Canes and Thrashers this year? That should be interesting!

Bellefay1

October 24th, 2010
7:36 pm

Just wanted to comment but a big thumbs down to the Atlanta PD and their traffic cops pre and post game. No one was there to direct traffic early, leaving was even worse when they managed to show up.

Please God. Move the stadium to Doraville.

stendek

October 24th, 2010
7:37 pm

Why are you a censor Jeff? True journalists abhor censorship! I worked in journalist field half a century. I certainly do. STENDEK

stendek

October 24th, 2010
7:38 pm

If you must censor Jeff please do not be selective. STENDEK

Jordan

October 24th, 2010
7:40 pm

idot

October 24th, 2010
7:47 pm

Sounds like complaining to me. IDOT

B-Rad

October 24th, 2010
7:48 pm

Seen This & Joe Tess,

My B?@*%% just called and she said SSHHHHHHHHH! You bet, it’s YOUR TIME alright> heheheheheaaaaa!!

Ueeediot

October 24th, 2010
7:49 pm

Jeff,
Can you tell me why Roddy had a TD ball tossed out of the game for himself today? Was there a milestone?

I didnt see Roddy drop a pass today. In fact, I saw the opposite. Roddy White has earned a lot of respect in the stands and the NFL. According to one report I heard this week, Roddy has been charged with 0 drops this year. Continued today. Amazing. He had a ball stripped? Oh well, if he keeps this average going I will be very happy.

The best thing today was that they went up field! It was so nice to see variations on first down, the return of the play action pass, and a general focus on throwing the ball down field instead of all these behind the lines plays.

Where is SeenB4?
The Browns were in town today…that’s a simple walk through to next week….right?
Hey, do you know which game had the longest fake punt run since the merger?
At least the Aints prolly own the Browns….right?

Ivan

October 24th, 2010
7:49 pm

I almost forgot. I want to boast CBS for a really nice change of pace on the game coverage. They got the name wrong occasionally, but their work easily overshadowed it. Gus Johnson really sounded like he was into the game and had me pumped when White caught the bomb.

“Touchdown, Roddy White! He IS the best receiver on the field!”

It was so much better than seeing the FOX commentators thrusting themselves in front of the camera and showing a side line reporter with someone’s best friend, sister, or anyone else not even remotely related to the game.

stendek

October 24th, 2010
7:50 pm

Then you are not a true fan Idot. If you saw a flaw in team you followed would you point it out or allow team to stumble along? True fan would speak up! All of us want Falcons to fly high friend. STENDEK

UGABugKiller

October 24th, 2010
7:50 pm

For all the complaining a lot of us do when things go wrong and the offense looks horrid and predictable and ultra-conservative and appearing to stunt the development of our QB, when the coaches actually DO address all of these issues, adapt their playcalling, evolve their gameplans, and are actually willing to change, then they MUST be commended for doing so.

Mike Mularkey and Mike Smith deserve a HUGE cheer for their willingness to adapt and evolve their offensive approach this week.

It made their players happy and it made those of us watching happy. And proved many, many critics of Matt Ryan to be wrong. Again. The best way to shut those up without the facts are to go out there and shove the facts in their face. In HD. And Ryan and the Falcons offense did that today.

Three cheers for the Mikes! Mularkey and Smith!

stendek

October 24th, 2010
7:52 pm

Ueeediot. I know for a fact Roddy White HAS dropped passes this season. Have personally seen them. If official stats claim no drops then they are flawed. STENDEK

JSS

October 24th, 2010
7:53 pm

Hell just froze over… Let’s go skating!

B-Rad

October 24th, 2010
7:53 pm

Oh well, look at the brightside, least you’ve had Kim Kardashian to coach you up. hahahhahaha! The Saint’s tail is truly wagging their dawg!! hahahaha…meanwhile….Seen this B4 is still M I A!! How lovely…heheehehe!

5150 P.O.A.D.

October 24th, 2010
7:54 pm

How the hell did MeAngelo Hall have 4 picks in 1 game? Please He ain’t that good. Cuttler must be blind.

stendek

October 24th, 2010
7:56 pm

5150. CUTLER IS THAT BAD! STENDEK

stendek

October 24th, 2010
7:58 pm

The Broncos surrendered 59 points to the Raiders. Now THAT is embarrassing! STENDEK

dbird1

October 24th, 2010
7:59 pm

GEAUX FALCONS!!!!!!
OUR TIME!!!!!!

Bro of SeenThisB4

October 24th, 2010
8:00 pm

My brother asked me to post this for him. He is embarassed and ashamed of the performance of his saints and wants all of you falcants fans to know he no longer has the balz to give any comments for at least the next 3 weeks. He’s in a lot of pain right now and hope you guys takes it easy on him for the next few weeks as he recovers from his stinct in the emergency room for the butt whooping handed his team by the cleveland browns. OUR TIME NOT THIS TIME aints.

Sports Review

October 24th, 2010
8:00 pm

[...] Goal Rewards OffenseSB Nation AtlantaSmith wants Atlanta offense to get going fasterWashington PostAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog) -SB Nation Atlantaall 812 news [...]

dean

October 24th, 2010
8:01 pm

What this NFL Sunday reminded me was: Betting on football games is for fools only.

In 1980 I was introduced to parlay cards. A game like Cleveland beating NO–at NO. A game like Baltimore taken to overtime by BUFFALO..like St Louis taking Tampa Bay–AT TAMPA BAY–Those type games are why betting on the NFL, or hell any sports, is for LOSERS.

Keep your money. Play a $1 tic on the lottery. You have a better chance. And your wife won’t get pissed off at you.