Archive for the ‘Falcons / NFL’ Category

‘Sack Schultz’ unveils Bowl Blowout (from Potato to BCS)

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Welcome back.

The Sack Schultz contest continues to spread good cheer and free food. It has been another great Uneducated Guessing Season, as we’ve given away tickets to the Georgia-Georgia Tech game, a stay at the Hotel Indigo in Athens, tickets to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, a $5,000 trip to Hawaii (yes, that Hawaii), gift cards to Marlow’s Tavern and Fat Heads (the product, not Ray Edwards).

About the only thing we haven’t given away is a coaching job for Bobby Petrino, who at this time next week will be on Groupon.

Now, we’re doing it again. Just go to AJC.com/go/sackschultzbowl2012 and it will take you to our bowl games pick page. Enter just like before and pick the winners of all 35 bowl games. The winner of the contest again will receive our admiration, as well as a relative Gorge-A-Thon. I define that as $200 in gift cards from Marlow’s.

Is shrimp and grits an acceptable appetizer ...

Is shrimp and grits an acceptable appetizer …

There are two great things about this contest: 1) I live pretty close to a Marlow’s in …

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OK, critics: Find something wrong with John Abraham

John Abraham is in double-digits in sacks for the seventh time in his career -- and at the age of 34. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

John Abraham is in double-digits in sacks for the seventh time in his career — and at the age of 34. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

At the age of 34, in his 13th NFL season, in the 171st game of his career, after the generally mandated assortment of groin, ankle, back, shoulder, head and who-knew-I-even-had-a-body-part-there ailments, John Abraham made a play. Actually, he made the play. Again.

The Falcons were leading New Orleans 20-13 in the fourth quarter last Thursday on national television. The Saints had the ball, driving toward a possible tying score. But on third down from the Atlanta 36, Abraham — looking as if he had just been drinking from the Fountain of Red Bull — flew around the left corner, leaving Saints tackle Zach Strief spinning like a weather vane, and buried quarterback Drew Brees for a sack.

End of touchdown threat. End of field-goal threat.

Soon, end of Saints.

“He’s no different for us than Ray Lewis (is for Baltimore),” teammate Jonathan Babineaux …

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Falcons’ offense hits wall, but as usual it doesn’t matter (UPDATED)

After this beauty of a touchdown catch by Tony Gonzalez made it 14-0, the Falcons' offense fizzled against New Orleans, but it didn't matter. (AP photo)

After this beauty of a touchdown catch by Tony Gonzalez made it 14-0, the Falcons' offense fizzled against New Orleans, but it didn't matter. (AP photo)

(UPDATED: 12:30 a.m.)

They keep it interesting, don’t they?

The Falcons came out against the New Orleans Saints Thursday night as if determined to bury their recent nemesis’ playoff hopes six feet under (which at least has the advantage of being out of egg-chucking range).

They led 7-0 less than four minutes into the game and 14-0 just 52 seconds into the second quarter. Most impressive of all was their offense, which is the side of the ball that ultimately will determine how far this team goes in the playoffs.

They discovered a new wrinkle: The running play. Michael Turner had a 35-yard run on the game’s second play, and before the first quarter ended he had already rushed for more yards (67) than he had in all but three of the previous 11 games.

Then the Falcons’ offense did something uncommon for any New Orleans Saints’ …

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Predictions: Georgia pulls upset, Tech goes down

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According to various websites that I looked through while doing research for this final week of investments — not counting those that kept asking for a credit card number, age verification and automatically opened 27 new windows (Close! Close! Dang it, close!) while my wife screamed down to the basement, “Are you still looking at point spreads!?” — I came across some interesting statistics.

The chances of winning Wednesday night’s $579 million Powerball drawing were approximately 1 in 176 million. That was still far more likely than the odds of having a meteor land on my house: 1 in 182,138,880,000,000. Or about double that for the same meteor landing on the ACC championship game and hitting somebody.

Is that a meteor falling on my house, or Georgia going to BCS title game?

Is that a meteor falling on me, or Dogs going to BCS?

Other odds I came across: 1 in 3 million chance of spotting a UFO; 1 in 11,500 of bowling 300 in a game; 1 in 649,740 of being dealt a royal flush; 1 in 20 million of being canonized; about even-money that one of those …

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Predictions: Georgia wins on Red-and-Black Saturday

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Before we get to this week’s big question — will Georgia be caught looking ahead to the SEC Championship game, the BCS title game, world domination, next year’s rankings, global peace, contact with an alien life form and a voice from a burning bush somehow lose to Georgia Tech — let’s get to what really matters.

The continuing devolution of mankind. I speak, of course, of Black Friday.

Once we’ve finished our annual Thursday tradition of consuming four helpings of turkey, three pieces of ham, 17 side dishes, six rolls (or was it seven?), three desserts and a Diet Coke and lapsing into a food coma, we’ll segue into Shopping on Steroids. Black Friday is that wonderful time when we rise at 3 a.m. after four hours of sleep to save $40 on a laptop, $6 on a sweatshirt and 27 cents on Play-Doh.

December wasn't good enough. He just had to start after Thanksgiving.

December wasn't good enough. He just had to start after Thanksgiving.

We’ll be overcome by feelings of a tremendous conquest, until the following week when these same items are on sale for …

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Falcons win (but run before somebody changes their mind)

Falcons' real stars came on defense, like this fumble return for a touchdown by Jonathan Babineaux. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Falcons' real stars came on defense, like this fumble return for a touchdown by Jonathan Babineaux. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Sometime after the game’s first pass went off Roddy White’s hands and turned into an interception, and Michael Turner was stuffed for no gain and then dropped a pass on the Falcons’ second and third plays, and Matt Ryan (five interceptions) mutated into some unrecognizable being, it probably occurred to everybody: This wasn’t going to be one of those games when we would all fawn over the Falcons’ offense.

“We were kind of sleepwalking through the first quarter,” coach Mike Smith said.

Sleepwalking? Actually, that would’ve been improvement. Curly mixing up the cake flour with the dynamite powder is when things kind of went sideways.

Five interceptions. Six turnovers. A coach who forgot the challenge rule and as a result was penalized and potentially lost an overturn of a fumble.

They won anyway.

This is kind of like a Big Foot sighting. Don’t believe that …

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Short takes: Ryan awful, defense great, win important

Matt Ryan had rough first quarter with three interceptions and taking hits like this. (AP photo)

Matt Ryan had rough first quarter with three interceptions and taking hits like this. (AP photo)

(I’ll be back shortly with my column off the Falcons’ game against the Arizona Cardinals. Until then here are my three “short takes” on the game.)

1. Ryan’s nightmare afternoon: If the Falcons weren’t playing Arizona, which has one of the NFL’s worst offenses, they would’ve been blown out Sunday. As it was, Matt Ryan threw three interceptions in the first quarter (one actually was the fault of Roddy White, who dropped a pass and it was picked off in mid-air) and a career-high five in the game. With a fumble, the Falcons actually turned over the ball six times but Arizona capitalized with only one touchdown and two field goals — 13 points. Ryan had thrown as many three interceptions only twice previously in his career. But he did come through on the go-ahead drive, completing four of five passes and setting up the Falcons’ lone offensive touchdown drive (a one-yard run by Michael …

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LIVE: Falcons hope to avoid hangover from Saints loss

Matt Ryan is hoping for better results when he hands off to Michael Turner today. (AP photo)

Matt Ryan is hoping for better results when he hands off to Michael Turner today. (AP photo)

Hello. Sorry, but I’m a little rushed today. I just posted a new column on Dawgmania in the BCS, following losses by Kansas State and Oregon late Saturday night. Now it’s time to switch gears to the pro team.

The Falcons play host to Arizona today. This is kind of a big game. I know that sounds strange for an 8-1 team with a three-game lead in the NFC South, but consider the circumstances.

They are coming of their first loss of the season, an emotional defeat to rival New Orleans (31-27), a game in which they felt they should have won (largely because of six red zone possessions that resulted in only three touchdowns). A loss to Arizona wouldn’t devastate the team but it has the potential to make things uncomfortable in the NFC South, with three straight divisional games to follow (at Tampa; home against New Orleans; at Carolina).

The questions about the Falcons now are the same …

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Predictions: Jackets, Dogs, Falcons and lust triangles

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In a bizarre turn of affairs — which should not be confused with anything that might be going on in a broom closet at the Pentagon with a CIA director, his smokin’ but psychotic biographer, a general (not that general, the other general), a Florida socialite, Snooki, Ashley Dupre, Donna Rice, Camila Parker (Duchess of Cornwall), Kim Kardashian (Duchess of … never mind), the UnReal Housewives With UnReal Enhancements of Atlanta, Anne Boleyn, King Charles VII, Bacchus (Greek god of Debauchery), probably a few Kennedys, Marilyn (duh), Fabio, the Thomas Crown Affair, An Affair to Remember, Family Affair (never trusted Mr. French) Glenn Close and that poor bunny rabbit, and, sorry, there’s just no room in here for Tiger Woods — Georgia Tech may play in a BCS game.

Just planning the weddings. (Art work via says-it.com/churchsigns.)

I'm just a hopeless romantic. (Art work via says-it.com)

(If you need to take a breath, re-read, digest, grab a snack, that’s OK. I’ll wait here. Still waiting. OK…)

Back to Georgia Tech-Duke, which isn’t nearly as …

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Falcons’ flaws aren’t worse than any other NFL team

Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff will take their team's 8-1 record, flaws and all. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff will take their team's 8-1 record, flaws and all. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

FLOWERY BRANCH – This is the way the season has gone for the Falcons. They win games, and people find flaws. They finally lose a game, and people scream, “Aha!”

As if the struggles of the running game, or the instability of the run defense, or the fact that Ray Edwards too often seemed more passionate about conquering the art of modeling than the art of a tackle should come as any surprise.

The Falcons have flaws, but so does every team, and they’re not going away. This is the NFL. Rosters don’t morph significantly during the season. The league has a salary cap. There is little roster flexibility. Unlike baseball, there aren’t pyrotechnics at the trade deadline. Once a season starts, the best a team can hope for is that a backup evolves and contributes more than expected, or a player released by another team can fill a void, or that drop-kicking a high-profile veteran like …

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