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Archive for December, 2009

Finneran goes on IR with knee injury

December 14th, 2009 Comments off
Brian Finneran

Brian Finneran

During his press conference, Falcons head coach Mike Smith announced that the team would place wide receiver Brian Finneran on injured reserve. Per Smith, Finneran suffered a knee injury on his second catch in yesterday’s loss against the New Orleans Saints.

Finneran caught 2 passes for 25 yards, including a 19-yard grab that he was reportedly injured on. That catch came on a key third down conversion which extended the Falcons drive that allowed them to tie up the score 23-23 against the Saints at the outset of the fourth quarter.

Finneran tore the PCL in his knee. Smith expects Finneran to be able to return for off-season conditioning, although Finneran is a free agent after this season. So it will remain to be seen if he will return to the team, as he suffers his third knee injury in five years. He missed the 2006 and 2007 seasons due to torn ACLs in hs knees. Finneran finishes the season with 11 catches for 111 yards (10.1 avg).

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Falcons come up short vs. Saints

December 13th, 2009 Comments off
AP Photo

AP Photo

The Falcons fought the New Orleans Saints once more to the very end, but just as was the case in Week 8 they came up short. The Saints escaped with a 26-23 victory to remain undefeated, as the Falcons now drop to 6-7. Chris Redman tried to lead the Falcons on a fourth quarter comeback, but they weren’t able to convert on a 4th & 2 with little more than a minute to play.

Redman led the way, rebounding from a poor performance a week ago, to have a good day. He completed 23 of 34 passes for 303 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Jason Snelling led rushers with 10 carries for 37 yards and a touchdown. Jerious Norowod added 33 yards on 9 carries. Tony Gonzalez led receivers with 6 catches for 50 yards. Michael Jenkins had 3 catches for 82 yards and a touchdown, his first of the season.Snelling also added 4 catches for 65 yards. The Falcons offense had difficulty early in the game in the redzone. The reached the redzone on three of their first four drives, but settled for field goals in each case. They were down 16-9 at halftime, but were able to tie up the game 23-23 at the start of the fourth quarter. The Saints mounted a long-drive to go up by a field goal with less than 5 minutes remaining. The Falcons turned the ball over two plays later with Redman throwing a pick to Jonathan Vilma, but hte defense was able to hold to give the offense one last chance to take the lead with 2:07 remaining at their own 15-yard line. The Falcons marched down the field and were left with a 4th & 2 with 1:07 remaining in the game. But Snelling was stopped a yard short by Vilma on a pass by Redman, sealing the victory for the Saints and another heartbreaker for the Falcons.

Defensively, the Falcons played better than most opponents have against the Saints. Their 26 points was the second lowest total the Saints have been held to this season, and the lowest since scoring 24 points in Week 4 against the New York Jets. Stephen Nicholas led defenders with 9 tackles. John Abraham (4 tackles, 1 for loss, 1 forced fumble), Jonathan Babineaux (3 tackles), Erik Coleman (5 tackles, 1 pass defended), Thomas DeCoud (7 tackles, 1 for loss), Brent Grimes (7 tackles), Chevis Jackson (3 tackles, 2 passes defended), Chris Owens (4 tackles), and Mike Peterson (8 tackles) had noteworthy games. The defense was able to come up big after a Falcon turnover game the Saints the ball in their own territory late in the fourth quarter. They got a stop on third down, and then were able to disrupt a fake field goal attempt to get the ball back for the offense for one last try. The Saints converted their first 7 third down attempts, but were only able to convert 1 of their final 4 attempts.

On special teams, Matt Bryant showed good consistency, making all 3 of this field goal attempts of 36, 30, and 27 yards. Michael Koenen only had 1 punt for 33 yards. Eric Weems had a 37-yard kickoff return that set up the Falcons final drive. An incomplete pass by Mark Brunell to Darnell Dinkins on the late fake field goal was quickly covered by the Falcons.

The Falcons have only an extreme long shot at this point to make the playoffs, and would need a lot of help from the other NFC teams. But they still do have a shot at breaking their streak of never having consecutive winning seasons if they can win their next three games. Next week they travel to New York to take on the Jets (7-6) at Giants Stadium. This is the first time in the Mike Smith era that the Falcons have had a losing record. The Falcons last played the Jets in 2005, which was a victory at home. They’ve lost their last two games on the road vs. the Jets, with their most recent loss coming in 1998. The Falcons have already played once this season at Giants Stadium, with an overtime loss to the Giants in Week 11.  Counting matchups against the Giants, the Falcons have won 4 of their last 6 games at Giants Stadium. Following their game against the Jets, they will ace the Buffalo Bills at home and then end the season with a road matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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Babineaux busted for drug possession

December 11th, 2009 Comments off
AP

AP

The AJC reports that Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux was arrested on Thursday night with charges of marijuana possession. Babineaux was released from Gwinnett County Jail early Friday morning after paying $8,300 bond.

Babineaux along with another man, Aaron Robinson, were charged with felony possession of marijuana after an officer pulled them over on I-85 north in Babineaux’s vehicle. The officer searched the vehicle after smelling marijuana and found a total of 40 grams. Babineaux is also charged with having no tag light, driving without a license, having tinted windows that were too dark, and having an expired tag.

The Falcons released a statement on Friday in regards to the arrest:

We are aware of the situation concerning Jonathan Babineaux and are in the process of gathering information. Because this is a legal matter, we will have no further comment at this time.

Head coach Mike Smith indicated that he did not feel that Babineaux’s arrest would not create a distraction to the team for this weekend’s matchup against the New Orleans Saints. The Falcons have not indicated whether or not Babineaux will play this weekend. If not, then it’s possible that rookie Vance Walker could start in his place.

This is not the first time that Babineaux has had run-ins with the law. He was charged with killing his girlfriend’s dog back in February 2007, but the charges of animal cruelty were later dismissed months later after it was believed Babineaux was acting in self defense.

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Injury-riddled Falcons dominated by Eagles in Dome

December 7th, 2009 Comments off
Getty Images/K.C. Cox

Getty Images/K.C. Cox

The Falcons were dominated by the Philadelphia Eagles at home, beaten soundly by a score of 34-7. The Falcons were riddled with injuries, missing five starters on offense and their replacements were unable to muster any production until a 99-yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter against Eagles backups. The loss drops the Falcons record to 6-6 and likely makes any chance of earning a wildcard playoff spot impossible now that they do not own the tie-breaker against three NFC East teams that all have better records than them currently.

Chris Redman got the start instead of an injured Matt Ryan, and struggled early on. He only completed 2 of his first 11 pass attempts. He managed to finish the day completing 23 of 44 attempts for 235 yards with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions, one of which was taken 83 yards by Sheldon Brown for a score. Without Michael Turner, the running game had little success. Jason Snelling led the team with 10 carries for 35 yards, while Jerious Norwood only added 18 yards on 11 carries. Roddy White led receivers with 9 catches for 104 yards, and the team’s only score. Tony Gonzalez also added 8 catches for 72 yards, breaking the team record for most catches in a season by a tight end, as he now has 69 on the season. Marty Booker started in place of Michael Jenkins, but the team got little production from him as he only had 1 catch for 4 yards. The Falcons were also missing offensive line starters Sam Baker and Harvey Dahl, and while the Eagles only wound up with 2 sacks on the day, they were able to put pressure on Redman throughout the game. The Falcons were able to drive down the field late in the first half, getting the ball to the Eagles 1-yard line with more than a minute remaining, but were unable to score, as Jason Snelling was stuffed three times, including a 4th down effort. That coupled with their opening drive of the second half in which they were able to get the ball to the Eagles 22-yard line before Redman’s pick six, irreparably gave all momentum to the Eagles.

Defensively, the Falcons continued to struggle with giving up big plays as they gave up three passing plays of more than 40 yards. Curtis Lofton led the unit with 6 tackles. Kroy Biermann (3 tackles, 1 sack), Thomas DeCoud (5 tackles), Chevis Jackson (4 tackles), Mike Peterson (4 tackles), and Lawrence Sidbury (3 tackles, 1 sack) had notable games. While the defense had a relatively solid showing in the first half, holding the Eagles to 13 points, the failure on offense at the end of the half seemed to have sucked the life out of the Falcons. Coupled with the 21 points that were created by the Eagles off three Falcons turnovers for a very ugly performance as the Falcons postseason hopes appear dashed.

The team’s new kicker Matt Bryant’s only appearance came on the extra point as time elapsed. Michael Koenen had 6 punts for an average of 43.8 yards with half of them being put inside the 20-yard line. Eric Weems averaged 10 yards on 2 punt returns, and 26.2 yards on 6 kickoffs, but fumbled his second attempt, setting up an Eagles score.

Even if the Falcons playoff hopes are still technically alive, the path doesn’t get any easier as they face a home rematch against the undefeated New Orleans Saints (12-0). The Falcons gave the Saints a game in Week 8 on Monday Night, losing 35-27, but their chances at getting revenge aren’t high with their current injuries. The Falcons have split their last 10 home games against the Saints, with their last victory coming in 2008.

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Falcons release Elam

December 1st, 2009 Comments off
Matt Bryant

Matt Bryant

The Falcons announced several roster moves today involving special teams. The team released kicker Jason Elam and long snapper Bryan Pittman today, and replaced them with kicker Matt Bryant and long snapper Joe Zelenka.

Elam was in the midst of the worst season ever in his fifteen seasons in the NFL. He hit on 12 of 19 field goals this year (69.2%). Elam missed a field goal in each of the last three games. The team signed Pittman earlier this month as an injury replacement for snapper Mike Schneck.

Bryant’s last NFL experience with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season where he made a career-high 32 of 38 field goals. Bryant played with the Buccaneers since 2005. He lost his job to Mike Nugent this past summer and signed with the Florida Tuskers in the upstart UFL. He made 11 of 14 field goals and all 23 of his extra points. For his career, Bryant had made 138 of 168 field goals (82.1%). He is famous for making a 62-yard game-winning kick vs. the Philadelphia Eagles in 2006, and connected on 3 field goals in a match vs. the Green Bay Packers in 2008 the day after his son’s funeral.

Zelenka played with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season, and had been a member of that team since 2001. He’s a nine-year veteran of this league

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