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Archive for December, 2008

Falcons re-sign Pollard

December 16th, 2008 Comments off

The Falcons made some roster moves today, placing two players on injured reserve. Wide receiver Laurent Robinson and cornerback David Irons were placed on injured reserve, shutting them down for the remainder of the season. Replacing them on the roster are safety Eric Brock and tight end Marcus Pollard. The team also signed two players to the practice squad: offensive tackle Mike Butterworth and cornerback Darius Vinnett.

Robinson has been limited to only six games this season due to various injuries. He has 5 receptions for 52 yards, after having 37 catches last season as a rookie. Irons had recorded 4 tackles on special teams this year in 5 games.

Pollard spent a week on the roster at the end of August and will help improve depth at tight end position. The Falcons already lost starting tight end Ben Hartsock to injury in November. This past weekend, the Falcons backup tight end Jason Rader fumbled his first reception of the season, likely spurring the Falcons to look at options such as Pollard.

Brock was promoted off the practice squad, along with the signing of guard D’Anthony Batiste to the Redskins roster last week created the openings for Butterworth and Vinnett. Butterworth was among the team’s final cuts this past summer. Vinnett was on the St. Louis Rams practice squad last season and was cut by the Rams this past September.

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Two Falcons Pro Bowl bound

December 16th, 2008 Comments off

The NFL announced its Pro Bowl rosters today, which included two Falcon players: running back Michael Turner and wide receiver Roddy White.

Turner currently ranks second in both the NFL and NFC in rushing yards with 1,421 yards. Turner also has a league-high 332 carries and 15 touchdowns.

White ranks fifth in the league and second in the NFC in receptions (82) and first in the NFL in receiving yards (1,320). White has 6 receiving touchdowns as well.

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Have the Falcons hit a wall?

December 14th, 2008 1 comment

It certainly seems that way. The Falcons have turned the ball over 7 times in the past three games. In the first eleven games of the season, the Falcons had a total of 11 turnovers. The Falcons have had a negative turnover ratio in each of the past five games. We’ve managed to win three of those games, despite our own mistakes.

But at this rate, if the Falcons do make the playoffs they look like they will be limping into it.

Right now, it looks like next week’s game will be just as big as any this season. We travel to Minnesota next week, and as of the current standings it looks like we will be facing the Vikings again on the road in the first round of the playoffs. There’s still a mathematical chance we can win the division (and thus host our first round game), but that seems to hinge on the chance that either the Chargers or Raiders can go into Tampa Bay and win there. When you consider the Bucs are undefeated at home this year and those two teams are a combined 4-10 on the road, I’m not going to hold my breath.

I know some of you are reading this thinking that I should just be content that we are even in the playoff picture. And I am happy for this team. But I’d be even happier if we could actually win a playoff game.

But the Falcons aren’t playing right now like they want to win a playoff game. They are playing like their season is over.

And I can’t help but notice that this supposed wall we’ve hit seems to coincide with the time period that rookies start to hit the wall. Matt Ryan did not play well today vs. the Bucs, but I wouldn’t call his performances against the Saints, Chargers, or Panthers subpar. But if Ryan is the leader of this team, and while it may not exactly show on the field, is he mentally tired from the grueling NFL season? And if your best player is mentally exhausted, wouldn’t it make sense that would spread to the rest of the team?

If the Falcons have a convincing win against the Vikings next week, most of my concerns will certainly evaporate. But if the Falcons are once more sluggish offensively, then I’m ready to concede that they have packed it in and will only be going through the motions the remaining game(s).

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Falcons beat Bucs in overtime

December 14th, 2008 Comments off

AP The Falcons managed to pull out a close game at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 13-10 in overtime. The Falcons got out to an early 10-0 lead in the first quarter, but their offense’s inability to score allowed the Bucs to get back into it. Jason Elam hit his second game-winning field goal this year with a 34-yard with 4 minutes to go in overtime to win the game, and to keep them ahead of the curve in the NFC wildcard chase.

Matt Ryan led the team completing 15 of 23 passes for 206 yards with 2 interceptions. He also rushed for 19 yards on 6 carries. Michael Turner had a big day on the ground rushing for 152 yards on 32 carries and a touchdown. Roddy White led receivers with 4 grabs for 61 yards. Michael Jenkins had 3 catches for 55 yards. The Falcons had three turnover. Two of them coming at the goalline, the first of which was a Ryan interception on 33-yard attempt to Roddy White, and the second was a Jason Rader fumbled after a 26-yard reception. After Turner’s first quarter touchdown run, the Falcons were unable to score on their next ten offensive series.

Defensively, the Falcons played tough against the Bucs. The Bucs only converted 3 of 14 third down attempts. Lawyer Milloy led the team with 12 tackles. John Abraham (3 tackles, 3 sacks), Jonathan Babineaux (4 tackles), Keith Brooking (10 tackles), Erik Coleman (7 tackles), Chauncey Davis (3 tackles), Dominique Foxworth (3 tackles, 1 interception), Chris Houston (7 tackles), Grady Jackson (6 tackles), Curtis Lofton (6 tackles), and Coy Wire (9 tackles) all had noteworthy games.

Jason Elam connected on two field goals, with a 26-yarder along with the game winner. Michael Koenen had 5 punts for an average of 45 yards and put 2 inside the 20. He had one blocked, which led to the team’s game-tying field goal that sent the game into overtime. Harry Douglas returned 4 punts for an average of 9.3 yards while Jerious Norwood averaged 18.7 yards on 3 kickoffs.

Next week the Falcons will travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings. The Falcons have won 2 of their last 3 against the Vikings on the road, with both wins coming in overtime including their dramatic win over Minnesota in the NFC Championship game in January 1999. The Falcons have split their last six games with the Vikings.

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Falcons-Vikings game moved to later slot

December 10th, 2008 Comments off

The AJC reports that the NFL has opted to move the Falcons-Vikings matchup on December 21 from 1 pm to 4:15 pm Eastern. This is part of the league’s flex scheduling which occurs in the second half of the season to have the best games televised. The Falcons already had their matchup with the Carolina Panthers in Week 12 moved from the early slot to a later one. The game will still be broadcast by FOX.

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Ground game leads Saints to win

December 7th, 2008 Comments off

Getty Images/C.Graythen

The Falcons lost a back and forth game to division rival New Orleans Saints 29-25 to drop their record to 8-5. The Falcons overcame an early 10-0 deficit to take a 14-13 lead late in the second quarter. From there the game went back and forth with five more lead changes, but the Saints were able to prevail in the end.

Matt Ryan led the Falcons with a strong performance, passing for 315 yards, completing 24 of 33 passes for a touchdown and also rushing for a 12-yard score as well. However, an interception on the Falcons first offensive drive led to the Saints first score and it was an uphill climb from that point on for the Falcons. Michael Turner was pretty much bottled up for most of the game, rushing for only 61 yards on 18 carries with a score. Roddy White led receivers with 10 catches for 164 yards. Michael Jenkins had 5 catches for 69 yards. Brian Finneran had 2 catches for 8 yards and caught Ryan’s lone touchdown pass.

Defensively, the Falcons had trouble slowing down the Saints ground attack giving up 184 rushing yards, including 122 in the first half. Keith Brooking led the Falcons in tackles with 10. Jonathan Babineaux (4 tackles), Michael Boley (4 tackles), Erik Coleman (4 tackles), Chauncey Davis (4 tackles), Chris Houston (6 tackles), Chevis Jackson (4 tackles), Curtis Lofton (7 tackles), and Lawyer Milloy (5 tackles) had notable games.

Jason Elam made his lone field goal try of 23 yards. Michael Koenen had 4 punts for an average of 47.5 yards with 1 put inside the 20. Jerious Norwood had 6 kickoff returns for an average of 23.7 yards. Harry Douglas averaged 1 yard on 2 punt returns. Saints running back Pierre Thomas had a 88-yard kickoff return following the Falcons taking a 25-22 lead, overturning the Falcons momentum and setting up the go-ahead score for the Saints.

Next week the Falcons hope to have better luck against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in what could be a must win situation for this team to make the postseason. The Falcons struggled against the Bucs in their Week 2 matchup, and hope to exact some measure of revenge.

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Jackson not suspended…yet

December 2nd, 2008 Comments off

Newsweek reports that Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jackson is not among the six players that the league announced would be suspended due to a violation of the NFL’s steroid policy. The seven players including Jackson had all appealed their suspensions which were handed down in October, but for six of them those suspensions will be upheld.

Jackson’s potential suspension has not yet been overturned. According to the Pioneer Press, NFL chief counsel Jeff Pash had heard the appeals by the players, but per NFL spokesman Greg Aiello will need additional information from Jackson in order to make a decision about his suspension.

While Jackson will be eligible to play this week against the New Orleans Saints, his status remains uncertain in subsequent weeks if the league follows suit and turns down his appeal.

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Turner returns to San Diego for win

December 1st, 2008 Comments off

Getty Images/S.Dunn The Falcons continue their pursuit of a playoff berth with a 22-16 victory over the San Diego Chargers. It was not the best or prettiest performance by the team this year. Despite limiting the Chargers to only 201 total yards, three turnovers kept their opponent in the game right to the end.

Matt Ryan played well, leading the team with 207 yards passing, completing 17 of 23 passes for 2 touchdowns. Michael Turner led the team on the ground, rushing for 120 yards on 31 carries (3.9 avg). Roddy White led receivers with 6 catches for 112 yards. Justin Peelle (3 catches, 38 yards) and Harry Douglas (3 catches, 13 yards) each had a scoring strike from Ryan. Turner and Brian Finneran fumbled the ball. Finneran’s fumble was returned 86 yards for a score by Eric Weddle. And the Chargers capitalized on Turner’s fumble for another three points.

The Chargers offense had little success against the Falcons offense. Chris Houston and Keith Brooking tied for the lead among defenders with 7 stops each. John Abraham (1 tackle, 0.5 sacks), Jonathan Babineaux (2 tackles, 1.5 sacks), Kroy Biermann (2 tackles, 1 sack), Michael Boley (3 tackles), Erik Coleman (3 tackles), Chauncey Davis (2 tackles), Domonique Foxworth (3 tackles), Curtis Lofton (6 tackles), and Lawyer Milloy (5 tackles) had noteworthy games.

On special teams, Jason Elam connected on two field goals of 35 and 40 yards. Michael Koenen had 2 punts for an average of 53 yards and 1 inside the 20. Jerious Norwood returned 3 kickoffs for an average of 18 yards. Douglas returned 2 punts for a total of 32 yards, but muffed his first which led directly to points by the Chargers. Jamaal Anderson was successful on blocking a field goal.

The Falcons will travel to New Orleans next week to face division rival Saints. The Falcons beat the Saints in Week 10 with a sound 34-20 win and hope to repeat themselves next week.

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