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Falcons soar over Lions on Saturday Night

December 23rd, 2012 1 comment
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan makes a throw against Lions

The Falcons secured the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a 31-18 victory on the road against the Detroit Lions. The Falcons record now stands at 13-2 and they will have home-field throughout the playoffs. The Falcons built an early lead against the Lions, and while the Lions made things interesting in the third quarter, the Falcons were able to pull away for the win.

Matt Ryan got off to a strong start, completing his first 12 passes of the night. He finished the game 25 of 32 for 279 yards and 4 touchdowns. Those scores tie him with Steve Bartkowski for the franchise record of 31 touchdown passes in a season, and also set a new career high for Ryan. On the ground, Michael Turner led rushers with 41 yards on 13 carries. Roddy White had a big game, catching 8 passes for 153 yards and 2 of Ryan’s touchdown passes. Julio Jones also had a good game with 7 catches for 71 yards and a touchdown. Michael Palmer caught Ryan’s other touchdown pass on his lone reception for a single yard. Matt Bryant connected on his lone field goal try of 20 yards. Matt Bosher punted four times for an average of 41.8 yards with 2 punts placed inside the 20-yard line. Jacquizz Rodgers returned a pair of kickoffs for an average of 24.5 yards, while Jason Snelling had a return of 9 yards. Dominique Franks had one punt return for 9 yards as well. For much of the night, the Falcons offense looked poised and efficient. They were able to convert 6 of 11 third down attempts, and also were able to get touchdowns on 2 of their 3 redzone trips.’

Defensively, the Falcons gave up a bunch of yards to the Lions who were playing from behind for most of the evening. They gave up 522 total yards to the Lions, including 443 in the air. But they also inhibited them on third downs, only allowing 5 of 14 attempts to be converted into first downs. They also forced three Lions turnovers. The team had little answer for league-leading receiver Calvin Johnson who caught 11 passes for 225 yards. Johnson was able to pass Jerry Rice on the evening, setting the new single season record for receiving yards in a season with 1892 yards. He also tied Rice for the fourth most receiving yards by an individual against the Falcons all-time. Dunta Robinson led the team with 10 tackles, as he and Samuel did their best to little avail to contain Johnson. John Abraham (2 tackles, 1 forced fumble); Thomas DeCoud (6 tackles); Akeem Dent (3 tackles); Chris Hope (7 tackles); Peria Jerry (2 tackles, 1 fumble recovery); Robert McClain (5 tackles, 1 fumble recovery); Stephen Nicholas (5 tackles); Corey Peters (5 tackles, 1 forced fumble); Asante Samuel (5 tackles, 1 interception); and Sean Weatherspoon (9 tackles) all had noteworthy games.

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Moneyball 2012 – Week 15 Review

December 18th, 2012 1 comment

A solid performance for the Falcons against the Giants. It was probably their most balanced game all year long. If they’ve been more balanced, then I just don’t recall that game, because it’s been a while since it happened.

The hat tip must go to the offensive line. After being manhandled by the Giants last January, they were very good. They were able to open enough holes to establish the run for the team early on. They also did an excellent job protecting Matt Ryan. I counted only 3 hurries (2 by Osi vs. Baker, 1 by JPP vs. Clabo), and no pressures. Last year, Ryan was sacked twice and pressured 6 times.

Propelled by one of the better line performances we’ve seen in 2012 (and by far their best at home), Ryan and the offense got back on track after two abysmal performances in previous weeks. Roddy had a relatively quiet game, his two lone catches were third down conversions. Jones also was fairly quiet in the first half, but came alive in the second half. Gonzo was Gonzo, you know being money on third downs and in the redzone. Douglas really stepped up and made some nice plays. Even Mike Cox got into the action. It’s nice to see the Falcons offense being able to spread the ball around and get multiple contributors involved.

On the ground, Turner had a solid game. But he was outshined by one Jason Snelling. I don’t think anybody’s ever earned as much money as Snelling did on that small amount of carries. Sure, all of his earnings came in the fourth quarter, and only $1 did not come on the final drive during garbage time. But he ran extremely hard, and it was clear that Snelling was going to give the coaches something to consider in film review this week. I don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill, but he looked better on those 7 carries than I think any Falcon RB has looked all year long. The Falcons should be looking to mix him more in the rotation going forward.

Mike Cox, you’re going to get some love here too. Not only did you entertain us with your tumble over a defender, you also did a solid job blocking. Your blocking hasn’t been world-shattering, but you’ve been steady and consistent. You don’t miss assignments which is really all you can ask for from a fullback.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Matt Ryan$15$0$0$0$0$0$15.00
Julio Jones$0$3$9-$1$0$0$11.00
Jason Snelling$0$7$2$0$0$0$9.00
Michael Turner$0$7$0$0$0$0$7.00
Harry Douglas$0$0$5$1$0$0$6.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$6$0$0-$1$5.00
Mike Cox$0$0$2$2$0$0$4.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$2$1$0$0$0$3.00
Roddy White$0$0$2$1$0-$2$1.00
Sam Baker$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$1$0-$1$0.00
Peter Konz$0$0$0$0$0$0$0.00

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A Complete Performance by Falcons

December 17th, 2012 Comments off
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Thomas DeCoud celebrates

The Falcons have faced their fair share of criticism this year. It all stems from the main question that hovers over their 2012 season like a specter: whether or not the Falcons can win a playoff game. Well, the Falcons appeared to exorcise that ghost with a dominant 34-0 shut out of the New York Giants.

The Falcons have been accused of taking advantage of a very weak schedule this year. The Giants represent one of only four opponents on the Falcons slate that currently has a winning record. The others: the Denver Broncos, Washington Redskins, and Dallas Cowboys were all beat by the Falcons. They have won a number of close games against cellar-dwelling opponents. That all culminated with an embarrassing 10-point loss to the Carolina Panthers. Coming off a thrilling win over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night the previous week, the Falcons looked unfocused and lethargic against the Panthers. Questions were raised about whether this team had the focus to change their postseason fortunes.

But the Falcons provided answers Sunday afternoon with their beatdown of the New York Giants. The Giants are a team that has built a reputation in recent years as one capable of turning on “the switch” at the opportune time. A switch that suggests when their backs are against they wall, they play their best football. After all, they had done so a year ago with a strong finish on their path to a Super Bowl victory. A path that went right over, through, and under Atlanta in the playoffs.

But on Sunday afternoon, the Falcons returned the embarrassment as the Giants were outright throttled by the Falcons. After two lackluster offensive performances against the Saints and Panthers, the Falcons offense rebounded with a brilliant effort against the Giants. The Falcons 34-point effort was their biggest of the season since the 40 points they scored in Week 1 mashing of the Chiefs. Their defense was able to create three turnovers and shut down the Giants three times on fourth and short, guiding the Giants to their donut on the scoreboard.

A week ago the Falcons appeared to be limping towards the top seed in the NFC. This week, they are going to be among the most feared teams in the NFL. The Falcons defense had appeared to be in “playoff mode” since their win over the Saints where Brees was picked off five times. The offense not so much…until yesterday.

The offensive line, which had been whipped by the Giants last January performed marvelously against the vaunted Giants front. Matt Ryan was sacked only once and saw little pressure. So little that Ryan seemed to hardly break a sweat as he completed 82% of his 28 attempts for 270 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Falcons gained 129 yards on the ground, their second best effort of the season.

The defense continues to build its reputation for strong play against top quarterbacks. It marked the Falcons sixth game where the defense forced at least three turnovers. Eli Manning adds his name to the list of top quarterbacks who have suffered that fate alongside his older brother Peyton, Philip Rivers, and Drew Brees.

The Falcons now sit 12-2, atop the NFC and likely to finish with home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They will hope and plan to use this Giants victory as a springboard to change their fortunes from the last time they had such an advantage, back in 2010. Then, they lost to the Green Bay Packers in an embarrassing fashion. They were unable to force a single punt all game long. This year, Mike Nolan has the defense firing on all cylinders, ready to eradicate that memory from the minds of Falcon fans and Defend the Dome. Now, it finally appears that the offense is now caught up and ready to go as well.

UPDATE: Forgot that the Cowboys also sport a winning record.

Categories: Features Tags: ,

FalcFans Podcast – Episode 22 – Parts 1 & 2

December 16th, 2012 Comments off

Aaron is back and is joined by Allen Strk and Scott Carasik for a lively conversation on a wide range of Falcons-related topics. You’ll hear their thoughts on many of the current Falcon players and what sort of seasons they are having in 2012 and what they could be expecting in the future. You’ll also hear them opine on some past Falcon players as well. Scott shares many of his thoughts on what the Falcons could be looking at in the draft and this upcoming off-season. They give their insights on what the upcoming playoff picture could look like for the Falcons. This episode does contain EXPLICIT content, so be forewarned.

Part 1:

Episode 22 Part 1 [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 2 minutes

Part 2:

Episode 22 Part 2 [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 6 minutes

Allen writes for TJRSports.com as well as the Bleacher Report. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk. Scott also writes for Bleacher Report and ScarDraft.com. You can also hear Scott on his weekly radio show: “Kvetching Draftniks Radio.” His twitter handle is: @scar988.

 

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at: pudge@falcfans.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Falcons squash Giants in shut-out victory

December 16th, 2012 Comments off
Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports

John Abraham bottles up David Wilson

The Falcons laid a beatdown on the defending Super Bowl champions, routing the New York Giants by a score of 34-0. It marks the first regular season shutout of the Giants since 1996. It is also the first time the Falcons have shut out their opponent since a 24-0 win over the Oakland Raiders in 2008, and their first time doing so in the Georgia Dome since a 30-0 victory over the Carolina Panthers in 2002.

After a couple of lackluster performances, Matt Ryan bounced back with a strong effort completing 23 of 28 passes for 270 yards and 3 touchdowns. He started the game completing his first 8 passes. His efforts today give him 4,202 passing yards on the season, breaking the Falcons all-time season high of 4,177 he set a year ago. On the ground, Michael Turner led the Falcons with 52 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. Jacquizz Rodgers added 11 carries for 25 yards, while Jason Snelling closed out the game with 6 carries for 39 yards. Julio Jones had a pair of touchdown grabs, leading the team with 6 receptions for 74 yards. He passed the 1000-yard receiver mark for the first time in his burgeoning Falcon career. Tony Gonzalez also had 6 catches for 49 yards and a touchdown. Harry Douglas (3 catches, 83 yards), Jason Snelling (3 catches, 16 yards), and Roddy White (2 catches, 16 yards) also contributed on the day. Matt Bryant hit on a pair of field goals, from 38 and 19 yards. Matt Bosher punted a pair of times for an average of 40 yards. Dominique Franks returned a pair of punts for 10 yards, and the Falcons had no kickoff returns on the day. The Falcons offense was efficient, converting 9 of 13 third downs. They also dominated on time of possession, holding the ball for nearly 39 minutes, compared to the Giants’ 21-minutes of possession.

Defensively the Falcons clamped down on a Giants offense that put up 52 points last week against the New Orleans Saints. They were held to only 256 total yards, their second-lowest output of the season. They only converted 4 of 10 third downs, and were 0 for 3 on fourth down attempts. The Falcons picked of Eli Manning twice, and also forced a late fumble. Sean Weatherspoon led the defense with 9 tackles. John Abraham (2 tackles, 1 forced fumble); Kroy Biermann (1 tackle, 1 sack); Thomas DeCoud (5 tackles, 1 interception); Akeem Dent (3 tackles); Chris Hope (5 tackles, 1 fumble recovery); Robert McClain (4 tackles); Stephen Nicholas (5 tackles); and Asante Samuel (1 tackle, 1 interception) all had notable games.

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White to be a game-time decision vs. Giants

December 13th, 2012 Comments off

The Falcons practice report issued earlier today listed wide receiver Roddy White as out for the second consecutive day of practice with a knee injury. Falcons head coach Mike Smith indicated that while White made progress since Wednesday’s practice, White likely won’t practice on Friday.

Roddy felt much better today than he did yesterday. We are going to be very cautious with Roddy in terms of getting ready for the ball game. He probably will not do a whole lot on Friday or Saturday and then we will get him out there on Sunday and see where he’s at. But it’s hard to keep Roddy White out of a football game.

Also missing today’s practice was safety William Moore (hamstring). It was Moore’s second consecutive day of missed practice. Moore missed last week’s game against the Carolina Panthers. If he is out this week, it’s likely Chris Hope will start in place for him, as he did vs. Carolina.

Upgraded today was defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (ribs). Babineaux participated on a limited basis in today’s practice, after missing Wednesday practice. Also limited were wide receiver Harry Douglas (ribs) and cornerback Asante Samuel (shoulder). After being limited yesterday, tackle Sam Baker (hand) and guard Justin Blalock (elbow) fully participated in today’s practice.

Moneyball 2012 – Week 14 Review

December 12th, 2012 Comments off

To put it simply, the Falcons got their butts kicked in this game. They just really came out with zero intensity or passion for this game and seemed to be going through the motions.

I thought Matt Ryan got off to a poor start. And it really wasn’t until late in the game did he really start to play at a relatively high level. He only looked comfortable when he was running the no-huddle. I know many will complain why did the Falcons wait so long to go to the no-huddle. Well they didn’t wait that long. They went to it on their 10th offensive play during the 3rd series. But I don’t think Ryan looked his usual self or at least the guy that was playing at an MVP level earlier in the season. I mentioned it before, but I do think Ryan does look a little less. It wasn’t until late in the game (when he got into a rhythm in the no-huddle) did I really see him put good zip on the ball. Frankly, his arm looks a little tired. He wasn’t as quick on the trigger on a some early throws that had he pulled the trigger a half-second earlier could have wound up being big plays for the Falcons. They were not, and the offense was stagnant. I also thought he struggled a bit when the pocket was muddy, not setting his feet and struggling when he was moved off his spot. That reminded me too much of last year’s Ryan, not this year’s, who for the first half of the season did an excellent job working behind a subpar O-line.

That was not the case this week. The Falcons O-line once again got pushed around by the Panthers front. Every single lineman gave up at least one pressure, and there were a number of hurries. Peter Konz struggled in this game. And I think it’s reached a point where a change might be in order. The guy just isn’t really cutting it at right guard. He gave up a 3.5 hurries, 1 sack, and a pressure. And he was somewhat responsible for another sack (the first, attributed to McClure). He and McClure were double-teaming Frank Kearse, then Konz left to chip Charles Johnson who was working against Clabo. The shove Konz gave Johnson, allowed Johnson to get free of Clabo and pressure Ryan to step up in the pocket. And at that point, McClure got beat by Kearse with a rip move and had an easy sack on Ryan. It would be one thing if Konz had been going up against Ndamukong Suh or Geno Atkins, but Nate Chandler, Greg Hardy, and Frank Alexander are beating you, then it becomes an issue. And it’s not just this game, but it’s been at least two or three straight games where he’s clearly been the weakest link on the offensive line. So the Falcons might want to think about giving Mike Johnson a shot (who got credited with the key block or rather “hold” on Turner’s touchdown).

Clabo’s false start was credited to McClure, who failed to snap the ball. As for the run blocking, it wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t good.

The Falcons passing game had a lot of success going to Roddy. I don’t know if he was working against James Dockery all game, but he was abusing him throughout the second half. Jones had a number of drops in this game. Not all were perfectly thrown passes, but still catchable for Jones.

I thought it was interesting that on Turner’s first 2 carries of the game, he was unsuccessful. Then the Falcons ran to Quizz 4 straight times, and he was successful on all of them. Then Turner got the rock twice, neither successful runs. Then he got a successful run on the 5-yard gain (his 5th carry), then was stuffed at the goalline, and then had an obviously successful run on the touchdown carry. Does any of that mean anything? Eh, not really. Just thought it was interesting that the Falcons clearly were not going with the hot hand.

For the people that want to call out Koetter for his play-calling/management in the game, there is some fodder. It did not appear that the Falcons called any plays until a minute left in the 3rd quarter that was designed for Ryan to throw downfield. That first play was the one where Roddy stumbled and Ryan overthrew him. After that point, they took many shots downfield. And by that point Ryan had 21 pass attempts. Other than that, I really don’t think you can find much fault in Koetter’s play-calling that isn’t just nitpicking.

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Matt Ryan$17$0$0$0$0$0$17.00
Roddy White$0$0$10$0$0$0$10.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$4$3$0$0$0$7.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$4$0$0$0$4.00
Julio Jones$0$0$4$0$0$0$4.00
Michael Turner$0$3$0$0$0$0$3.00
Harry Douglas$0$0$2$0$0$0$2.00
Sam Baker$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Chase Coffman$0$0$1$0$0$0$1.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Mike Johnson$0$0$0$1$0$0$1.00
Jason Snelling$0$0$1$0$0$0$1.00
Todd McClure$0$0$0$0$0-$1-$1.00
Peter Konz$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00

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Offense struggles again in loss to Panthers

December 9th, 2012 Comments off
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan is disappointed

The Falcons dropped their second game of the 2012 season with a 30-20 loss to the Carolina Panthers. The Falcons record goes to 11-2. The Falcons looked lackluster with another poor offensive effort following a 10-day layoff from their last game. They were shut out in the first half, down 16-0, the first time that’s happened to the team since 2009, and the first time it has occurred with Matt Ryan at the helm.

Matt Ryan had a lackluster performance, despite completing 34 of 49 passes for 342 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception. On the ground, Jacquizz Rodgers led the team with 21 yards on 4 carries. Michael Turner added 7 carries for 14 yards and a touchdown. Roddy White led receivers with 9 catches for 117 yards and a touchdown. Tony Gonzalez (8 catches, 61 yards), Rodgers (6 catches, 43 yards), and Julio Jones (5 catches, 66 yards, and a TD) also were key contributors. Matt Bryant attempted no field goal tries on the day. Matt Bosher punted 4 times on the Falcons first 4 possessions for an average of 42 yards, with 1 placed inside the 20-yard line. Jacquizz Rodgers returned 2 kickoffs for 42 yards, and they returned neither of the pair of Brad Nortman punts for the Panthers. Offensively, the team struggled on 3rd down for the second week in a row, converting only 2 of 8 tries. The Falcons could not sustain drives early in the game, only possessing the ball for a total of 6 minutes in the first half.

Defensively, the Falcons could not get off the field on third downs. The Panthers wound up converting 9 of 15 third down tries and produced 475 yards of total offense, including 195 on the ground. The Falcons defense did do a good job in the redzone keeping the Panthers out of the endzone, forcing field goals on both of their redzone entries. But two big plays resulted in the Panthers two second half touchdowns, which helped put the game out of reach for the struggling Falcons offense. Stephen Nicholas led defenders with 9 tackles. Kroy Biermann (4 tackles); Thomas DeCoud (4 tackles); Akeem Dent (8 tackles); Robert McClain (8 tackles); Chris Owens (5 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass deflection); Dunta Robinson (8 tackles, 1 pass deflection); Vance Walker (2 tackles, 1 sack); and Sean Weatherspoon (7 tackles) had noteworthy games.

The game began with a long, 11-play, 77-yard drive by the Panthers that consumed over 7 minutes of the first quarter. Cam Newton hit Steve Smith to convert on a quick slant. Three plays later, Newton scrambled up the middle for a 6-yard gain. A reverse to Joe Adams on the next play was stopped by John Abraham a yard shy to set up 3rd & 1. But Mike Tolbert powered through a tackle on the next play for a 7-yard gain to convert the third down. Three plays later, Newton connected with Greg Olsen on a back-shoulder throw for a 25-yard scoring strike over Thomas DeCoud. The Falcons took a 7-0 lead. The Falcons followed up with Gonzalez getting an 8-yard catch on second down to convert for a first down. But Ryan would get sacked on the next play by Frank Kearse. Ryan’s next pass would be an overthrow to Antone Smith on a screen pass. He checked down to D.J. Davis for a 6-yard gain on 3rd & 18 to force Bosher’s first punt. A steady ground attack would get the Panthers in Falcon territory with another long drive to eat away the last 5 minutes of the first quarter. Newton ran up the middle for a 2-yard gain to convert a 4th & 1 to close out the quarter. Three plays later, Corey Peters would get penetration and get Cam Newton in the grasp on the sack, but Newton spun out, made a couple of defenders miss, and managed to run 14 yards for the first down on 3rd & 11. Two plays later, Louis Murphy would catch a Newton pass for 16 yards to put the ball inside the Falcons 10-yard line. Sean Weatherspoon would trip up DeAngelo Williams on the draw play on the next play. Newton would miss to Murphy in the back of the endzone on the next play. Then pressure would get to him as Mike Nolan dialed up a blitz and hwas forced to throw it away on third down. The Panthers would set for a 24-yard field goal from Graham Gano to go up 10-0. All in all, the Panthers had held the ball for over 9 minutes for 17 plays, and 72 yards on that scoring drive. The Falcons next series was a three-and-out as Ryan’s pass to Michael Palmer on 3rd & 5 came up a yard short of the sticks. Newton would hit Steve Smith on a crossing pattern for 20 yards on first down of the next Panthers drive. Smith would then beat Chris Owens on the next play for a 15-yard completion. Two plays later, Newton would get dropped by Vance Walker for the sack, putting hte Panthers at the Falcons 30-yard line. On third down, Newton would overthrow Steve Smith and once again Gano came on the field to convert a 41-yard field goal. The kick was good and the Panthers now had a 13-0 lead with just 5 minutes left in the first half. On the first play of the Falcons next series, Ryan would find Rodgers on a checkdown for 9 yards, breaking a couple of tackles. Three plays later, while trying to escape the pocket, Ryan’s checkdown to Rodgers would fall short. The Panthers blitzed on the next play, and Ryan hit his hot read in Tony Gonzalez, but he is easily stopped by D.J. Campbell for no gain to force the punt. The Panthers took over with 3:35 left in the half at their own 28-yard line. As the two-minute warning hit, Newton scrambled off the right side for a 21-yard gain on 3rd & 6. Louis Murphy would beat Dunta Robinson deep on a double move, but Newton would miss the wide open touchdown pass, overthrowing him. Two plays later, Steve Smith would beat Owens on the deep out for 19 yards. Five plays later with the Panthers having a 1st & 15 at the Falcons 19-yard line, Newton would hit Murphy along the sideline in the endzone. But Murphy was only able to get a single foot down inbounds resulting an incomplete pass. An incomplete pass to Olsen on the next play would set up a 3rd & 15. Newton’s pass to Murphy was stopped for just a 6-yard gain. And Gano would hit his third field goal of the game from 31 yards to close out the first half.

To start the third quarter, the Falcons went into no huddle mode. Ryan hit Roddy White for his first two receptions on the opening two plays for a combined 28 yards. But three plays later, on 3rd & 7, Ryan tried stepping up in the pocket but wound up overthrowing Harry Douglas. And the Falcons fourth possession ended in a punt. On the third play of the Panthers series, Mike Tolbert bust up the middle for a 5-yard gain to convert on 3rd & 1. On the next play, Cam Newton kept the ball and rushed virtually untouched 72 yards down the left side for a touchdown. That quick score put the Panthers up 23-0 with 11 minutes remaining in the third quarter. A 6-yard handoff to Jacquizz Rodgers started the next Falcons series. Ryan then converted on second down with a 9-yard comeback to Julio Jones. That was followed by a 5-yard run by Rodgers. Ryan hit Gonzalez on the next play for a 16-yard gain to put the ball in Panther territory. White, Gonzalez, and then Rodgers would touch the ball on the next three plays to put the ball inside the Panthers redzone. On second down, Ryan missed Jason Snelling in the flat on an overthrow. Pressure got to Ryan on the next play, and his out pass to Gonzalez on 3rd & 4 fell incomplete. The Falcons opted to go for it on 4th & 4 from the Panthers 13 yard line. Ryan hit Snelling on a shovel pass and he rumbled 5 yards to convert. Two plays later, Ryan hit Roddy on a crossing pattern for the 4-yard touchdown pass. The Falcons got on the board for the first time of the game with 4:50 remaining on the third quarter clock. Steve Smith gained 16 yards on a Newton pass to start the next Panthers series. DeCoud would wrap up DeAngelo Williams in the backfield for a 2-yard loss on the next play. Two plays later, Newton would overthrow Smith on 3rd & 4 and the Panthers would be forced to punt for the first time. The Falcons now took over at their own 20-yard line with 2:38 left in the quarter. Ryan hit Roddy for a 14-yard gain on 2nd & 7 on the third play of that series. Ryan took a deep shot to Roddy, but the receiver stumbled and the ball was overthrown. Two plays later, Ryan would find White again for an 18-yard completion on a deep comeback. To close out the third quarter, Ryan would hit Julio Jones who made an excellent diving grab over the middle for a 21-yard gain. Ryan took another shot at Jones on the next play, but Jones cannot secure the fingertip grab going out of bounds. The Falcons would convert their first third down of the day two plays later with an 11-yard completion to Gonzalez. That put the ball at the Panther 11-yard line, which the Falcons took advantage of with a bubble screen to Julio Jones who scored thanks to a couple of good blocks by Todd McClure, Justin Blalock, and Harry Douglas. The Falcons went for two following the score, hoping to make it a one score game with 14 minutes left. Ryan sprint out on the play and found Roddy White going out of bounds. What looked to be a catch was ruled incomplete due to the ref indicating that White bobbled the ball as he was going to the ground. The play was challenged by Mike Smith, but the refs did not overturn the highly questionable call. And thus the Falcons were still down 10 points, 23-13. The Panthers began to try and run out the clock with 2 runs for 8 yards on their next series. But Newton again would convert on 3rd down with a 7-yard pass to Smith. He would then hit Olsen on the next play for 18 yards on a pass over the middle. Two plays later, Louis Murphy would drop a pass along the sideline near the sticks. But Ron Rivera challenges the ruling, and it’s overturned. Instead, the play is ruled a fumble by Murphy instead of a drop, and the Panthers convert the first down. Chris Owens gets credit with the forced fumble on the play. Two plays later the Panther drive stalls on third down thanks to Dunta Robinson breaking up a pass to Smith. The Panthers punt is fair caught by Dominique Franks at the 10-yard line. Ryan went back to the Roddy well on the next series, hitting him on the two opening plays for a combined 21 yards. Harry Douglas would get into the act with a 19-yard grab on the next play. Turner rushed for 5 yards on the next play. But then on 2nd & 5, Greg Hardy would sack Ryan. Ryan would check down to Rodgers on 3rd & 12 to get 4 yards back to try and set up a makeable 4th down try. Pressure would flush Ryan out of the pocket, and throwing off his back foot, he could not get enough on the ball. That allowed Thomas Davis to step in front of the pass to White for the interception, essentially ending any hopes of a miracle finish for the Falcons with 6:19 to go. The Falcons defense would get a stop on their next series, with a Newton pass to Armanti Edwards going for only 4 yards on 3rd & 9. But Robinson would be called for defensive holding against Edwards, giving the Panthers a first down near midfield with about 5 minutes to go in the game. On the next play, Newton would hit the screen to DeAngelo Williams, who with help from a couple of missed tackles would run 53 yards for a touchdown icing the game. The Panthers took a 30-13 lead with 4 minutes left in the game. Ryan would try and take a deep shot to Jones on first down of the ensuing Falcons series, but it would be overthrown. Jones would extend high in the air to make an excellent grab in traffic for a 17-yard gain on the next play. Ryan would hit Tony Gonzalez on a pair of 6-yard plays, followed by a 10-yard pass to Douglas, and then a 11-yarder to Chase Coffman. Two plays later, a checkdown to Rodgers for 8 yards would give the Falcons another first down with the two-minute warning hitting. Ryan’s pass out of the break was a 17-yarder to White that put the ball at the Panthers 1-yard line. Ryan took a shot to Jones in the endzone, but it was knocked away by Josh Thomas. Ryan’s next pass went over the head of a crossing Kevin Cone. On the third down, Ryan tried a quick slant to Gonzalez that was incomplete, but Captain Munnerlyn was called for pass interference. That gave the Falcons a first down at the 1, and on Turner’s second rush he was able to score the 1-yard plunge. With less than a minute left in the game, Bosher’s onside attempt was easily covered by Jordan Senn. The Panthers opted to kneel on the ball on the last two plays and the game was over.

Next week, the Falcons will be hosting the New York Giants. Their last contest against the Giants was a rough one, a 24-2 loss on the road in last year’s playoffs. The Falcons have lost 7 straight home games against the Giants going back to 1981, and three straight in the Georgia Dome. Overall, the Falcons have lost four straight against the Giants. Their last victory was a road win in 2004 by a score of 14-10. Prior to the arrival of Mike Smith, the road team won the Falcons-Giants matchup 12 straight times going back to 1982. Since Smith’s arrival in 2008, the Falcons have lost both contests against New York, both of them coming on the road. Under Mike Smith, the Falcons are 8-0 in home games following road losses. They have won 11 straight games following losses of any kind, and are 19-3 overall under Smith under those circumstances.

Categories: Features Tags: , , , ,

Moneyball 2012 – 3rd Quarter Stats

December 9th, 2012 Comments off

Here are the Moneyball stats through the first 12 weeks of the season. Previously had stats from the first 8, and first 4 games of the season.

If you’re new to this Moneyball thing, you can click here to read the rules as well as find a glossary for all these stats.

You can also click here to view the stats from a year ago at the three-quarter mark as a way to compare.

PASSING
1st
3rd
20+
40+
TD
PIT
INT
Skd
TOTAL
Matt Ryan80 (22)49 (19)28 (10)8 (3)22 (5)57 (25)13 (7)4 (0)$143.00 ($35)
RUSHING
5+ yd
10+
1st
3rd
YAC(5+)
TD
MH
TOTAL
Michael Turner29 (8)17 (4)8 (4)1 (0)4 (1)6 (2)1 (1)$87.00 ($24)
Jacquizz Rodgers9 (2)6 (4)2 (2)2 (1)4 (1)1 (1)2 (0)$29.00 ($6)
Matt Ryan3 (0)3 (1)03 (1)01 (0)0$14.00 ($3)
Julio Jones001 (0)1 (0)2 (1)00$4.00 ($1)
Jason Snelling1 (0)1 (0)1 (0)0000$4.00 ($0)
Harry Douglas0001 (0)1 (1)00$2.00 ($1)
Tony Gonzalez00002 (0)00$2.00 ($0)
RECEIVING
1st
3rd
20+
40+
YAC
TD
Drop
TOTAL
Roddy White20 (3)16 (4)12 (5)3 (1)8 (2)4 (0)4 (3)$63.00 ($13)
Tony Gonzalez32 (8)12 (6)3 (1)02 (0)7 (3)4 (2)$59.00 ($19)
Julio Jones13 (5)10 (4)10 (1)3 (2)10 (2)6 (1)7 (2)$54.00 ($16)
Jacquizz Rodgers6 (2)5 (2)1 (1)013 (4)1 (0)3 (0)$24.00 ($9)
Jason Snelling3 (3)3 (1)004 (3)2 (1)0$13.00 ($5)
Harry Douglas6 (1)2 (2)3 (2)01 (0)01 (0)$11.00 ($5)
D.J. Davis01 (0)001 (0)1 (0)0$4.00 ($0)
Mike Johnson000001 (1)0$2.00 ($2)
Michael Turner0001 (0)2 (0)1 (0)5 (1)$1.00 (-$1)
Michael Palmer01 (0)00000$1.00 ($0)
Tommy Gallarda0000001 (0)-$1.00 ($0)
Joe Hawley0000002 (0)-$2.00 ($0)
Lousaka Polite0000002 (0)-$2.00 ($0)
BLOCKING
KB Run
KB Rec
KB 1st
KB 3rd
KB TD
KB Pass
SA
MB
QBPA
TOTALS
Justin Blalock6 (2)02 (1)1 (1)2 (1)1 (1)09 (4)4 (0.5)$22.00 ($9)
Todd McClure4 (3)1 (0)4.5 (1)001 (0)3 (0)9 (4)8 (5)$16.50 ($5)
Tyson Clabo7 (4)002 (0)2 (2)1 (0)4 (0)8 (6)12.5 (1)$13.00 ($7)
Garrett Reynolds1 (0)00.5 (0)01 (0)001 (0)6 (0)$10.50 ($0)
Sam Baker2 (2)001 (0)1 (0)03 (1)7 (2)10 (2.5)$8.00 ($4)
Roddy White2 (0)2 (1)003 (1)001 (0)0$6.00 ($2)
Mike Cox1 (1)02 (2)01 (1)0000$4.00 ($4)
Peter Konz00002 (0)01 (1)6 (2)4 (4)$2.00 ($2)
D.J. Davis1 (0)01 (0)000000$2.00 ($0)
Julio Jones00001 (1)0000$1.00 ($1)
Michael Turner000001 (1)002.5$1.00 ($1)
Tommy Gallarda1 (0)00000000$1.00 ($0)
Jason Snelling001 9))000001 (1)$1.00 ($0)
Jacquizz Rodgers1 (1)000001 (0)01 (0)$0.00 ($1)
Harry Douglas000010010.5$0.00 ($0)
Mike Johnson00001 ())01 (0)00$0.00 ($0)
Kevin Cone00000001 (0)0-$1.00 ($0)
Michael Palmer00000001 (1)1 (1)-$1.00 (-$1)
Lousaka Polite1 (0)000001 (0)2 (0)0.5 (0)-$2.00 ($0)
Tony Gonzalez1 (1)01 (1)01 (0)008 (4)0-$5.00 (-$2)

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Categories: Features Tags: , ,

Moneyball 2012 – Week 13 Review

December 4th, 2012 1 comment

This was a very bad game for the offense as the passing game never got into sync. The Falcons went nearly the full game without converting a third down and the lack of big plays was stark. I don’t think Ryan played poorly, but he certainly did not play well. He looked rattled early, as the Saints were effective pressuring him early. It caused him to be off on some throws and reads. Towards the latter part of the game, he seemed less willing to sling it downfield, and was going more for the easy completions in an effort to keep the offense on schedule. They attempted to take some shots early in the game, but they failed. Obviously when this offense is settling on 6 or 7-yard completions on a lot of dumpoffs to the running backs, then it is not potent at all.

The running game started strong, and one criticism could be that the team abandoned it during the middle portion of the game where the offense was struggling to move the ball. I don’t really adhere to that criticism. Everyone knows this team offensively is carried by its passing attack. The running game was on point against the Saints, but I don’t think you could believe it would be sustainable throughout the night.

One thing I did notice in terms of the backs was that I think Rodgers could be more potent with Mike Cox blocking for him. Cox has been an upgrade at the fullback position in recent weeks. And while he’s no Ovie, he’s at least competent to good for the most part. Traditionally, the Falcons like to use Cox in conjunction a lot with Turner, but I think Rodgers might be a better match. Turner’s late fumble was partially his fault for fighting for yards, but also it did seem that the refs were fairly lethargic on blowing the whistle for forward progress. But in the end, you still have to secure the football, which Turner did not, and ultimately the blame still falls squarely on him. After recent games, it’s going to be hard for Turner to earn the trust back of the coaching staff in order to finish games. While Turner was superior to Quizz in the early going, it does seem that the Falcons offense seems more effective with Quizz as the closer.

Up front, the line blocked well earning most of their key blocks in the early going. Konz was the weakest of the front, as he along with McClure, Blalock, and Baker all had their troubles blocking Sedrick Ellis. By my count, Ellis had a pressure (vs. McClure), 2 hits (1 vs. Baker, 1 vs. Konz), and a hurry (split by Baker & Blalock). McClure had his ups and downs, missing a couple of blocks (one of which was on a screen), giving up pressure to Ellis and Hicks up the middle. But he also made some very nice blocks in this game, so it also balances out. Clabo had a good game, as it seems like this is the first game in forever that he didn’t give up a pressure/hurry once. But overall, I think the line has been showing some improvement in recent weeks. It’s about time…

PLAYER
PASS
RUSH
REC
BLK
SPEC
PEN
TOTALS
Michael Turner$0$9$0$0$0-$2$7.00
Tyson Clabo$0$0$0$5$0$0$5.00
Sam Baker$0$0$0$4$0$0$4.00
Justin Blalock$0$0$0$4$0$0$4.00
Jacquizz Rodgers$0$3$0$0$0$0$3.00
Todd MCClure$0$0$0$3$0-$1$2.00
Mike Cox$0$0$0$2$0$0$2.00
Julio Jones$0$0$2$0$0$0$2.00
Matt Ryan$2$0$0$0$0$0$2.00
Jason Snelling$0$0$2$0$0$0$2.00
Antone Smith$0$0$0$0$1$0$1.00
Tony Gonzalez$0$0$3-$2$0-$1$0.00
Roddy White$0$0-$1$0$0$0-$1.00
Peter Konz$0$0$0-$1$0$0-$1.00

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