LIVE: Falcons seek No. 1 seed; AJC endures minus D-Led

An artist's rendering of Darryl Ledbetter's injury.

An artist's rendering of Darryl Ledbetter's injury. (Zazzle.com)

DETROIT — Good evening. Welcome to Monday night football on Saturday night. Because while the NFL sees nothing wrong with multiple Thursday games that increase the chance of concussion hangovers (shortened game weeks) and is pushing for an 18-game season, at least it won’t make teams play on Christmas Eve.

Before we get to the Falcons-Detroit game, I’d like to give a shout out to the captain of the AJC’s Falcons’ coverage, Darryl “Lightning Led” Ledbetter. He’s a former high school cornerback who claims to have patterned his game after Jack Tatum, the only difference being that Tatum took out opponents and

Here's actual updated look at Ledbetter's left leg.

Here's actual updated look at Ledbetter's left leg.

Ledbetter took out himself.

Last Saturday morning, while carrying three loads of laundry, he tripped on a book that was left on the stairs at the state Ledbetter manor. Down went Lightning. His left leg buckled.

An X-ray revealed no damage so D-Led toughed it out last Sunday, covering the Falcons- New York Giants game with what he (and a mistaken doctor) believed was just a bad knee sprain. But a followup MRI

Matthew Stafford (Georgia) and Calvin Johnson (Georgia Tech) have been a lethal combination since uniting in the NFL. (AP photo)

Matthew Stafford (Georgia) and Calvin Johnson (Georgia Tech) have been a lethal combination since uniting in the NFL. (AP photo)

revealed D-Led had a ruptured quadriceps, which required surgery Thursday.

While the AJC is not required to declare our writers’ inactive list until 90 minutes before kickoff — competitive reasons — I’ll disclose that D-Led did not make the trip to Detroit, nor is he expected to cover next week’s regular season finale against Tampa Bay.

“I’m hoping to be back by the playoffs,” he said.

That still put him ahead of Ray Edwards.

So the able and fleet-footed Michael Cunningham has come in off the bench and is in Motown with me for tonight’s coverage. Michael told me he long had been dreaming of making a December trip to the tropical paradise that is Detroit. (I might have made that up.)

OK, about the game. The Falcons are coming off their biggest win and most impressive performance of the season, a 34-0 blowout of the Giants. This game can’t match that one in marquee value but there’s a lot on the line. A win over the Lions guarantees them a first-round bye and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, which would give several banged up players a week of needed rest. Here are the scenarios:

• They secure a first-round bye with: 1) A win or tie tonight; OR 2) a Green Bay loss or tie vs. Tennessee; OR 3) a San Francisco loss at Seattle.

• They secure the No. 1 seed with: 1) A win tonight; OR 2) a tie and a San Francisco loss or tie; OR 3) A Green Bay loss or tie and a San Francisco loss.

A strong performance against the Lions would be a good sign going into the postseason, whereas an emotional letdown would again make some wonder about what lies ahead. As tight end Tony Gonzalez said, “This is not the time to go cool. It’s not the time to think you’ve arrived. Actually, it’s the worst time to have that attitude.”

Stating the obvious: The Falcons’ defense likely will double-cover wide receiver Calvin Johnson (who has a chance to break Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving record) because there is not much else on the Lions’ offense to worry about. Offensively, the team will be rematched against Mr. Wholesome, Ndamukong Suh, and the Lions’ defensive front. Detroit actually has been pretty solid defensively, especially for a 4-10 team, but the Lions have hurt themselves with turnovers (26) and penalties (6.9 per game).

That’s all I’ve got for now. The Falcons try to secure home field and the AJC endures without Lightning Led.

The cyber-venting lines are now open.

By Jeff Schultz

1,122 comments Add your comment

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

December 22nd, 2012
6:05 pm

America is watching, playoff atmosphere, so you know what that means :)

ccatlanta

December 22nd, 2012
6:05 pm

So how cold is it in Detroit?

Big Lou

December 22nd, 2012
6:07 pm

Matt Choke Ryan

You mean like the Denver game?

Or the Thursday night Saints game?

Cowboys game?

You know… the ones the Falcons won.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

December 22nd, 2012
6:13 pm

@Big Lou

I was thinking about the 3-9 Panthers 2 weeks ago :)

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

December 22nd, 2012
6:22 pm

Jerry Rice aint gonna think too highly about his record falling in 15 games :)

Jeff Schultz

December 22nd, 2012
6:24 pm

ccatlanta — Actually doesn’t feel that cold right now because there was no breeze. My iPhone says 32.

Jeff Schultz

December 22nd, 2012
6:25 pm

Big Lou — And the Giants game.

nativefalcon

December 22nd, 2012
6:29 pm

Matt Choke Ryan, crawl back under the rock you came from you saints homer. Too bad your team is going to be sitting on the sidelines, lol We’ll have fun laughing at you.

Falcons Win tonight, PERIOD

Michael M.

December 22nd, 2012
6:31 pm

Poor D-Led……………..got to be more careful, D!………………Falcons 49 —-Lions 17

Claude Humphrey # 87

December 22nd, 2012
6:33 pm

Let’s go up here and get this win so we can start shutting up critics.

Answer This

December 22nd, 2012
6:33 pm

At the guy above named JS……thanks for pointing out that Giants game to Choke…if I rememberd correct his prediction was somewhat like the Mayans…and all these other week in and week out prognosticators…..they were wrong……STOP IT…now about the game…I like the Falcons like I have liked them all year….I see a win. About Dled…wow Dled, book on the steps? Should have been giving me props on the blog…happy healing big man hope you get better! Rise Up!

Remarkable

December 22nd, 2012
6:34 pm

I feel sorry for Matt Stafford. Even he can’t change the Detroit debacle. The Falcons are going to come out determined and strong so they can seal up home field advantage.

Coach D

December 22nd, 2012
6:34 pm

Hopefully the Falcons are becoming a “Love ‘em or hate ‘em team” which means fans of weak teams will become jealous. We still love you “MCR”….. Yep, don’t forget the Giants game.

Saints suckas

December 22nd, 2012
6:39 pm

matt choke ryan,
Don’t be sore because your boyfriend likes looking at Matt Ryan instead of you. The saint’s run is OVER. Been over. Back to the bottom for the Aint’s!

Chaos

December 22nd, 2012
6:40 pm

D-Led get better soon you wont want to miss what the Birds have in store for the playoffs!

DawgNole

December 22nd, 2012
6:41 pm

SCHULTZ: “A strong performance against the Lions would be a good sign going into the postseason, whereas an emotional letdown would again make some wonder about what lies ahead.”
_______________________

Couldn’t agree more. Those who call games like this “meaningless” are missing something. It’s all about momentum and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs–both huge factors in postseason success. Need to win the ones you’re supposed to win–and some of the ones you’re not.

Remarkable

December 22nd, 2012
6:42 pm

Michael Cunningham is an All-Pro Sub. We are all in good hands with him at the key-board. I don’t think we’ll see any let down in the reporting. Jeff, bring your A- Game or Michael might make you look bad tonight. LOL

Longtimefan

December 22nd, 2012
6:43 pm

MCR-How about that Giants game! Still think Vick and Flacco are better than Ryan? Remember a guy named Manning (the older brother), yea, he started 0-3 in playoff games. Turned out to be a pretty fair QB.

Michael M.

December 22nd, 2012
6:43 pm

lol at the Giants……………Atlanta completely destroyed em last week……….put that in your humanity post Choke…………

Seeer

December 22nd, 2012
6:44 pm

Choke is not a Saints fan he is just another racist Vick fan that has been ripping on Ryan since day one! Give it up Choke, you and Vick are both washed up! Just saying!!!

Claude Humphrey #87

December 22nd, 2012
6:44 pm

Matt Stafford has had a tough season. He and Calvin were not connecting at the beginning of the year but they have since beeb on a tear. Unfortunately they have a leaky secondary and have not protected the ball. I belive helps us out with a couple of early turnovers and we win in a laugher. I am thinking something like 37-7

...... in the Jungle, ..........the Detroit Jungle, the Lions Lose tonight

December 22nd, 2012
6:45 pm

Another Rise Up on the road.

Claude Humphrey #87

December 22nd, 2012
6:45 pm

I though Choke was a she.

Bah humbug

December 22nd, 2012
6:48 pm

Thanks NFL for putting two perennial doormats on national TV tonight. The 4-10 Lions, and the soon to be watching the NFC title game at home Falcons.
Bah! Humbug!

Crude

December 22nd, 2012
6:48 pm

Slipped on a book on the stairs? George Costanza feels your pain, D.

It was gonna be the Winter of D!!

North Ave. Faithful

December 22nd, 2012
6:51 pm

Choke Ryan, just like a turd in a punch bowl.

Michael M.

December 22nd, 2012
6:52 pm

No sense in picking on em tonight ………..we got a good ballgame coming on shortly, bring on the turnover party Stafford !

Jason

December 22nd, 2012
6:52 pm

I wanna see Michael Turner run like he did last week. He only got 52 yards but he ran hard and got some key runs. It’s no longer about Turner rushing for over 100 yards a game anymore. We’re a passing team. He just needs to be effective for us. Hopefully he’s starting to heat up just in time for the playoffs.

Claude Humphrey #87

December 22nd, 2012
6:54 pm

I just say I am a Falcons fan and Vick is no longer a Falcon. Plus he left us in a just awful situation. Life goes on though. We have a better QB and we are on our way to the Superbowl so Manning can give us another 5 picks! GO FALCONS!

JSS

December 22nd, 2012
6:55 pm

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Nothing like your blogs there Jeff Schultz…

So @ Ledbetter, did they have reattach that bad boy? And be careful of who you let rehab you! Good luck!!!

Put in Timeout by Ken Suguira,Filtered by Mark Bradley, Banned by Bill King, Chip Towers & only slightly loved by Jeff Schultz.

December 22nd, 2012
6:57 pm

Matt is going to light up the Lions and CHOKE will still talk his crap…….leave P.O.S CHOKE alone. He knows he is a loser with a miserable life cause MV7 sucks. Give it a minute and he will be an RGIII fan soon enough.

Jeff Schultz

December 22nd, 2012
6:58 pm

Remarkable — Michael says thank you.

Jeff Schultz

December 22nd, 2012
6:59 pm

Jason — You used a few words I can’t allow. Deleted comment.

Michael M.

December 22nd, 2012
7:00 pm

Place my orders at ChokinDonalds………….I”ll take 3 turnovers with 1 a return for a touchdown on defense, 5 orders of Matt Ryan touchdowns and a order of Michael Turner running for a touchdown on offense………………………………….hehehehe

Jeff Schultz

December 22nd, 2012
7:01 pm

JSS — Is it me? Am I magnet or something?

Just Asking?

December 22nd, 2012
7:06 pm

Can we start talking about the Falcons or the Lions and forget about the idiots? They really aren’t worht the time to type their name. Just asking?

Greg Mendel

December 22nd, 2012
7:08 pm

So, what was the title of the book D-led tripped over?

A: “Run Like a Glacier, Sting Like a Flea!” by M. Turner
B: “Fair Catch-22″ by D. Franks
C: “War and Peace” (Twitter version) by R. White
D: “Football Genius (and the Women who Love Me)” by R. Petrino
E: None of the above

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

December 22nd, 2012
7:09 pm

Slow your roll losers, Detroit is a 4 win team, well that’s an upgrade from the 3 win team that WHIPPED the Falcants 2 weeks ago, just a week before they played an uninspired Giants team.

In order for you losers to make the Giants F-L-U-K-E win even resemble something that is legit, you will have to WHIP a 4 win team by a lot more than you did the 8 win uninspired Giant’s team.

Although I know it was a FLUKE :)

Put in Timeout by Ken Suguira,Filtered by Mark Bradley, Banned by Bill King, Chip Towers & only slightly loved by Jeff Schultz.

December 22nd, 2012
7:09 pm

Bah humbug
December 22nd, 2012
6:48 pm

Thanks NFL for putting two perennial doormats on national TV tonight. The 4-10 Lions, and the soon to be watching the NFC title game at home Falcons.
Bah! Humbug!
========================================

Are you just Stupid or do you know nothing about Football.
Falcons playing for home field and a bye.
Calvin Johnson is trying to break a JERRY RICE record.
Those are pretty compelling story lines if you like football that is.

historicalfalcon

December 22nd, 2012
7:09 pm

Is Roddy playing tonight???

Jason

December 22nd, 2012
7:10 pm

Get ready guys, if Matt Ryan throws an incomplete pass, “CHOKE” will show up. Go figure.

PantherDawg

December 22nd, 2012
7:11 pm

Falcons will win this one. They sobered up after the Carolina game. They are going all the way to the super bowl and will win this time.

GO FALCONS!!!

Michael M.

December 22nd, 2012
7:12 pm

You got to love Choke, you can load up and throw the leaded comments at em but he always comes back shooting blanks as with the Giants……………………………….

Jason

December 22nd, 2012
7:13 pm

How is a 34-0, (should have been 41-0) win over a Giants team that just smacked the Saints 52-27 a “fluke”? The Giants spanked the 49ers, Packers, and Saints by a combined score of 116-40.

Jeff Schultz

December 22nd, 2012
7:16 pm

Falcons S William Moore inactive, as expected. Will post entire list shortly.

Jason

December 22nd, 2012
7:18 pm

INACTIVES FALCONS:
4 QB Dominique Davis
17 WR Tim Toone
25 S William Moore
68 G Philipkeith Manley
69 C Harland Gunn
86 TE Chase Coffman
98 DE Cliff Matthews

There ya go Jeff. Did it for ya

stizz

December 22nd, 2012
7:18 pm

I’m beginning to get more and more upset with the misuse and inactivity of Tim Toone while we keep running out clowns like Franks on punt returns.

Get Back Jojo

December 22nd, 2012
7:19 pm

WOW!! D-Led RISE-UP you too.

GO FALCONS!!!

Lets do this thing and move on…..

Jeff Schultz

December 22nd, 2012
7:19 pm

Inactives:
Falcons — QB Dominique Davis, WR Tim Toone, S William Moore (hamstring), G Phillipkeith Manley, G Harland Gunn, TE Chase Coffman, DE Cliff Matthews.
Lions — QB Kellen Moore, CB Ron Bartell, T Jason Fox, T Corey Hilliard, TE Brandon Pettigrew (ankle), DT Ogemdi Nwagbuo, DE Ronnell Lewis.

Put in Timeout by Ken Suguira,Filtered by Mark Bradley, Banned by Bill King, Chip Towers & only slightly loved by Jeff Schultz.

December 22nd, 2012
7:22 pm

When is Calvin Johnson’s contract up? Is he a free agent after next year?