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Matt Bryant Hits Kick in Overtime to Beat Bills

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Bryant kicks the game-winning 36-yard field goal in overtime

The Atlanta Falcons won their third game of the 2013 season with a 34-31 overtime win over the Buffalo Bills in Toronto. The Falcons were able to stall a pair of potential game-winning drives by the Bills at the end with timely fumble recoveries, the latter of which led to a 36-yard game-winning field by Matt Bryant in overtime.

Matt Ryan led the way with 311 yards passing and a touchdown, completing 28 of 47 passes. The Falcons found success on the ground, as Steven Jackson led the team with 84 yards on 23 carries (3.7 avg) and a pair of rushing touchdowns. Antone Smith added a 38-yard touchdown on his lone carry of the day. Roddy White had a resurgent game with a team-leading 10 catches for 143 yards, exceeding his highs of the year. Harry Douglas (6 catches, 73 yards) and Tony Gonzalez (4 catches, 42 yards, 1 touchdown) also made contributions to the passing game. The Falcons 423 total yards is their second-most of the season and were solid on third downs, converting 10 of 18 attempts (56-percent). They also scored touchdowns on 2 of their 3 red-zone trips.

Defensively, the Falcons got gashed for 405 total yards, including 195 on the ground. But did a decent job getting off the field on third downs (6 of 15 for the Bills) and were able to force a pair of turnovers off fumbles. Paul Worrilow led the team in tackling with 9 stops, including a tackle for loss. Robert Alford (2 tackles, 1 pass deflection, 1 fumble recovery); Jonathan Babineaux (3 tackles, 1 tackle for loss); Thomas DeCoud (4 tackles); Peria Jerry (4 tackles); Jonathan Massaquoi (8 tackles, 1 tackle for loss); Robert McClain (5 tackles, 1 pass deflection, 1 forced fumble); William Moore (6 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 2 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery); Desmond Trufant (1 tackle, 1 pass deflection); Osi Umenyiora (6 tackles); and Sean Weatherspoon (7 tackles, 1 pass deflection) had noteworthy games.

The Falcons opened up the game with some trickery, as Antone Smith returned the opening kickoff 40 yards after a reverse from Jacquizz Rodgers. But the Falcons were unable to capitalize off their favorable field position with a three-and-out thanks to Manny Lawson coming unblocked off the edge to sack Matt Ryan on third down.

The Bills responded quickly, as C.J. Spiller burst up the middle for a 77-yard run on the second play of the ensuing Bills series. He was tracked down from behind by Desmond Trufant, being tackled at the Falcons’ 6-yard line.Two plays later, E.J. Manuel was able to scramble out of the pocket and extend the ball to hit the pylon and get a 1-yard score to give Buffalo a 7-0 lead with less than 11 minutes left in the first quarter.

The Falcons followed up with another three-and-out thanks to a Jerry Hughes sack on third down. The Bills once again capitalized with a longer, 9-play, 63-yard scoring drive. Manuel was able to find Stevie Johnson twice on third down to extend the drive, as he beat Robert McClain. Then McClain was flagged with a defensive holding call inside the 9-yard line. On the next play, Fred Jackson ran up the middle for a 4-yard score, getting a surge and push from the Bills offensive line. The Bills now had a 14-0 lead with 5 minutes left in the first quarter.

The Falcons finally answered, thanks to Ryan finding Roddy White on a 19-yard throw on the second play of the series. Another 15 yards was tacked on to the play thanks a roughing the passer call on Mario Williams, giving the Falcons the ball at the Bills’ 36-yard line. Three plays later, Steven Jackson burst off the left side untouched for a 27-yard touchdown run. The Falcons had cut the Bills lead in half with a 14-7 lead with 2:30 left in the first quarter.

The Falcons defense finally got a stop on the next series, thanks to a pass broken up by Desmond Trufant on third down. The Falcons took over with the first quarter coming to a close. But Leodis McKelvin was there to break up a third down pass to White, and the Falcons were forced to punt again with 12:49 left in the half.

The Bills steadily began to march the ball downfield on their next drive. But a pass broken up by Robert McClain on third down at the Falcons’ 12-yard line was able to stall the drive, and force a 29-yard field goal from Dan Carpenter. Carpenter hit the kick to give Buffalo a 17-7 lead with 7:24 left in the half.

The Falcons responded quickly, thanks to a 14-yard catch by White to convert on third down and push the ball into Bills territory. On the ensuing play, Antone Smith broke off the left side for a 38-yard run. That cut the Bills’ lead to three points with 4:49 left in the half.

The Falcons defense was able to force their first three-and-out of the game on the ensuing series. Matt Ryan hit White for a 22-yard strike downfield on third down to bring on the two-minute warning. Ryan’s next deep shot three plays later to Darius Johnson went through the receivers hands for an incomplete pass. Ryan was then sacked on the next play by Jerry Hughes for the second time. That backed up the team on 3rd-and-16, and after a 9-yard completion to White, the Falcons settled for a 49-yard field goal from Matt Bryant in the closing seconds of the half. That kick tied the game at halftime, 17-17.

The Falcons defense were able to force another three-and-out from the Bills offense to start the third quarter. With the Falcons getting the ball to midfield after an illegal use of hands penalty on Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore, Ryan found White again on another deep pass for 29 yards. Three plays later, Harry Douglas bounced off a tackle and ran 14 yards for a touchdown to give Atlanta their first lead of the game. But the scoring play was reviewed, and Douglas was deemed down at the one-foot line. Steven Jackson was gobbled up for no gain on 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line on the next play. That was followed by a 5-yard sack by Marcell Dareus thanks to Matt Ryan tripping over a lineman’s leg on his drop back. And Lamar Holmes followed that up with a false start, putting the Falcons back to the Bills 11-yard line for 3rd-and-goal. But Ryan dialed up Tony Gonzalez on the next play, who made a nice diving catch in the end zone to get the score. Atlanta had its first lead of the game, 24-17 with 8:13 left in the third quarter.

The Bills offense once again stagnated with a four-and-out. But the Falcons were unable to capitalize as a botched snap from Joe Hawley was mishandled by Ryan, and recovered by Kiko Alonso at the Falcons’ 21-yard line. Fred Jackson scored on the next play for the Bills on a 21-yard screen pass, tying up the game 24-24 with 6:01 left in the third quarter.

The Falcons started to move the ball on the next drive, but stalled once they got into Bills territory, leading to a Matt Bosher punt that was downed by Robert Alford at the Bills’ 3-yard line. E.J. Manuel overthrew an open Marquise Goodwin on third down and the Bills had another three-and-out with the third quarter coming to a close.

The Falcons gave up another third down sack, this time to Mario Williams to stall their next drive. The Bills capitalized with a 33-yard strike to Robert Woods on the second play of the ensuing series. An additional 15 yards was added onto the play thanks to an unnecessary roughness call on William Moore thanks to a helmet to helmet hit. That gave Buffalo the ball at Atlanta’s 36-yard line, and C.J. Spiller was able to shake a couple of Falcons defenders to get the 36-yard scoring run on the next play. The Bills lead now was 31-24 with 11:48 left in the game.

The Falcons offense stalled on the next series with their first three-and-out since the first quarter. But the Bills followed that up with a three-and-out of their own on another overthrow of Goodwin.

The Falcons were able to move the ball into Bills territory thanks to a shovel pass to Jason Snelling on 3rd-and-2 that went for 3 yards. But on their next third down, Ryan’s perfect deep throw to Antone Smith went right through the running back’s hands, which could have been a touchdown had he caught it. The Falcons settled for a punt, forcing the Bills to start at their 10-yard line.

The Falcons defense got a stop thanks to stuffing Spiller on first down for a 3-yard loss. A delay of game penalty backed up the Bills even further, and they weren’t able to convert on 3rd-and-17 with another three-and-out.

Ryan was sacked again on the opening play of the next series, with Corbin Bryant coming unblocked up the middle. But Ryan connected with Gonzalez on the next two plays to get that yardage back and giving the Falcons the ball near midfield. Ryan then hit White on a 24-yard pass two plays later to get into Bills territory. An illegal contact flag on Aaron Williams gave the Falcons a first down at the 18-yard line three plays later. Darius Johnson made a big catch with a 13-yard gain at the two-minute warning to get the ball to the 5-yard line. Ryan couldn’t connect on his next two passes with throws out of the back of the end zone. Then on third down, his handoff to Steven Jackson went for a 4-yard gain to set up a potential 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line. But Harry Douglas was flagged for unnecessary roughness penalty, backing up the Falcons 15 yards to the Bills’ 16-yard line. But Ryan went back to Douglas on the next play, who drew a questionable pass interference penalty on Nickell Robey in the end zone. That gave the Falcons the ball right back on the 1-yard line, and Steven Jackson was able to burst up the middle for the score to tie the game with 1:28 left on the clock.

The Bills had all three timeouts as they started their next drive at their 24-yard line. Manuel hit Scott Chandler on a 23-yard pass to convert on third down and get the ball near midfield. The Bills looked content to run down the clock and look for the field goal after a pair of runs by Fred Jackson to get to Atlanta’s 44-yard line. On 3rd-and-1, Manuel hit Stevie Johnson on a crossing pattern, but McClain stripped him from behind at the Falcons’ 30-yard line. The ball bounced right into the waiting arms of Moore with 20 seconds left on the clock. That nixed any chance the Bills could have had the game-winning field goal on that play. After a short pass to Steven Jackson, time expired and the game was sent into overtime.

The Bills won the toss, and on the second play of overtime, Manuel found Chandler on a crossing pattern for 22 yards. But he too was stripped from behind by Moore, and Robert Alford was able to scoop it up at the Falcons’ 40-yard line. He lateraled the ball to Desmond Trufant, who returned it 18 yards to the Bills’ 47-yard line.

After a 4-yard run by Jackson to start the drive, the Falcons were able to hit Douglas on a screen for a 20-yard gain putting the ball firmly in field goal position at the Bills’ 23-yard line. Two more runs by Jackson got the Falcons six more yards to set up a more makable field goal by Bryant. Bryant split the uprights with a 36-yard kick and the Falcons had their third win of the season with 12 minutes to go in overtime.

The Falcons will go on the road to face the Green Bay Packers (5-6-1) in the frigid environment of Lambeau Field next week.

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Author: Aaron Freeman

Aaron is the founder of FalcFans.com.

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