Redskins Turnovers Lead to 27-26 Falcons Win
Matt Ryan led, completing 29 of 38 passes for 210 yards with a touchdown and interception. Steven Jackson led rushers with 38 yards on 15 carries and a pair of touchdowns. Tony Gonzalez led receivers with six catches for 62 yards and a touchdown. Roddy White and Harry Douglas each had five catches for 53 and 37 yards, respectively. Matt Bryant hit on both of his field goal tries from 20 and 51 yards out. Matt Bosher had a good day punting, booming six punts for an average of 49.3 yards with three placed inside the 20-yard line. Robert McClain returned three punts for an average of 8.3 yards, while Jacquizz Rodgers had three kickoff returns for an average of 26 yards. The Falcons struggled to convert third downs for much the game, finishing with five conversions on 14 tries (36 percent). They were able to score touchdowns on three of their five red zone trips, with one of their failures coming on a failed fourth-down attempt from the one-yard line. On that play, Jackson was stuffed at the goal line. The Falcons turned the ball over two times, but that paled in comparison to the Redskins issues with retaining the football. The Falcons were able to capitalize on those Redskins mistakes, generating 20 of their points off the favorable field position presented by those miscues.
The Redskins turned the ball over seven times on the day, including five lost fumbles. The Falcons were able to pick off the Redskins twice as well. Otherwise, they didn’t have much success slowing down the Redskins offense, who put up 476 total yards. That marked the second-highest yardage total allowed by the Falcons defense this season. That included 103 yards on the ground, marking the eleventh-consecutive game in which the Falcons have allowed over 100 yards rushing to the opposing team. The Falcons defense got stops on four of the five red zone trips by the Redskins, forcing a pair of field goals and a pair of turnovers. Robert Alford and Paul Worrilow shared in the team lead in terms of tackles, each tallying nine stops. Jonathan Babineaux (one tackle, two fumble recoveries); Joplo Bartu (six tackles); Malliciah Goodman (one fumble recovery); Jonathan Massaquoi (five tackles); Robert McClain (five tackles, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries); William Moore (five tackles, one interception, one fumble recovery); Zeke Motta (five tackles); Stephen Nicholas (five tackles, one forced fumble); Corey Peters (four tackles, one pass deflection); Desmond Trufant (seven tackles, one interception, two pass deflections); and Osi Umenyiora (two tackles, one sack, one forced fumble) had notable games.
The Falcons offense got off to a strong start with a 14-play, 83-yard drive to kick of the game. The Falcons were able to convert a trio of third downs, two of which came on catches by Roddy White, and another on a Darius Johnson snag. Steven Jackson capped off a five-carry drive with a three-yard score to give the Falcons a 7-0 lead.
The Redskins started to move the ball towards midfield on the ensuing drive, but Osi Umenyiora was able to beat the blocker around the edge and get a sack-strip on Kirk Cousins. Jonathan Babineaux fell on the fumble and the Falcons took over at the Redskins’ 36-yard line. Two plays later, Ryan hit Tony Gonzalez on an eight-yard catch, but an additional 13 yards was tacked on thanks to an unnecessary roughness penalty on Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall. On the next play, Ryan hit Gonzalez again, who made a move after the catch and scored on the 13-yard play to push the Falcons lead to 14-0.
The Redskins offense went back to work on the ensuing drive, mounting a quick three-minute scoring drive to close out the first quarter. On the fifth play of the drive, running back Alfred Morris broke off the right side for a 37-yard run. On the next play, play-action sucked up the Falcons defense, and Cousins found tight end Fred Davis in the end zone for a 23-yard score to cut the Falcons lead to 14-7.
The Falcons did not have much success on the ensuing drive, as Lamar Holmes got beat by Brian Orakpo on third down for a sack. That led to a Matt Bosher punt, but Santana Moss muffed the catch thanks to a fortuitous bounce and deflection off his leg. Robert McClain fell on the ball and the Falcons had the ball again at the Redskins 14-yard line.
Steven Jackson broke several tackles on first down to get an 11-yard gain and put the ball at the three-yard line. But he was unable to cross the goal line on his next two runs, and Ryan’s pass to Levine Toilolo was knocked down by DeAngelo Hall on third down. That forced Matt Bryant to go for a 20-yard field goal, which was good.
Then a bizarre set of plays ensued on the next Redskins series. After Kirk Cousins hit Aldrick Robinson deep on a 62-yard pass to open the drive, Morris fumbled and Malliciah Goodman recovered. That gave Atlanta the ball at their 37-yard line. But on the first play, Ryan Schraeder got beat by Ryan Kerrigan for a sack-strip, and Orakpo recovered at the 27-yard line. Then Cousins hit Santana Moss over the middle, but he fumbled as he was being tackled by Robert McClain, and the ball was recovered by William Moore. Sean Weatherspoon was flagged for an unnecesssary roughness for throwing a punch during the scrum for the ball, and the Falcons were backed up to their five-yard line.
The Falcons offense did little and Bosher came out for a punt after a three-and-out. The Redskins capitalized, as Cousins found Pierre Garcon on a 53-yard touchdown toss. Zeke Motta misplayed the ball in the air, going for the interception, and allowed Garcon to trot into the end zone for an easy score. That cut the Falcons lead to 17-14 with 6:35 left in the first half.
The Falcons responded with another three-and-out, giving the ball right back to the Redskins. Garcon got open again for a 27-yard catch which put the ball in Falcons territory. After the two-minute warning, a 15-yard carry by Morris got the ball down to the Falcons’ 15-yard line. Two plays later, Cousins pass to tight end Logan Paulsen was incomplete thanks to Paulsen being out of bounds in the back of the end zone. On the ensuing third-down play, Cousins’ pass to Garcon was deflected off the receivers’ hand and Moore was unable to interception. That allowed the Redskins to connect on a 33-yard field goal from Kai Forbath with less than a minute left in the half.
Jacquizz Rodgers got a good 35-yard return to give the Falcons good field position, but it was brought back by an illegal block penalty on Stansly Maponga. Matt Ryan tried to take a deep shot to Harry Douglas down the middle of the field, but his pass was overthrown and picked off by safety Jose Gumbs at the Falcons’ 40-yard line.
The Redskins capitalized off that mistake and were able to get in position for a 37-yard field goal from Forbath as time expired, giving them a 20-17 halftime lead.
The Redskins defense couldn’t build off that momentum in the second half, as they were stopped on a three-and-out due to a tipped pass by Corey Peters on third down. The Falcons offense looked the sharpest it had all game since their opening drive on their next possession. They were able to convert a pair of third downs, and were gifted additional field position thanks to a pass interference penalty on linebacker London Fletcher. After a 12-yard catch by Tony Gonzalez on the second third-down conversion that put the ball at the Redskins 8-yard line, the Falcons offense stalled. Steven Jackson ran for a two-yard gain on the ensuing first down and then dropped a throw in the flat on second down. On third down, Ryan hit Gonzalez again on a five-yard catch, who tried to reach the ball across the goal line for a score. But his knee was down before he could cross the plane, putting the ball at the one-yard line. Then on fourth down, the Falcons opted to go for it. Redskins nose tackle Barry Cofield was offsides, giving the Falcons half a foot of better field position. But Jackson was stuffed by Perry Riley at the goal line and the Redskins took over on downs.
But the Falcons defense capitalized on the next play as Moore picked off Cousins on a bad pass over the middle. He returned the play to the two-yard line, and Steven Jackson scored on the next play to give the Falcons a 24-20 lead.
The defense responded by forcing another Redskins three-and-out. On the ensuing punt, Robert McClain muffed the catch, but managed to recover to set up the Falcons at their 23-yard line. The next drive started well with Jacquizz Rodgers gaining 14 yards on the first two plays. But a clipping penalty on Lamar Holmes backed up the offense two plays later, forcing them at 1st-and-25. The Falcons were unable to convert on the ensuing third down, and Bosher punted again.
But once again, the Falcons defense got a stop with a three-and-out before the Falcons took over at the tail-end of the third quarter. On the final play of the quarter, Ryan was sacked by Orakpo and Jarvis Jenkins, forcing another Bosher punt to start the final quarter.
The Redskins offense was able to get out of their funk on the next series, with Cousins connected on his first three pass attempts for 41 yards to get the ball into the red zone. But they turned the keys over to Morris after that point, and he was stripped by Stephen Nicholas, and the ball was recovered by Babineaux, who returned it to the Falcons 22-yard line.
The Falcons offense failed to take advantage before they punted again after five offensive plays. But the Redskins once again shot themselves in the foot, as Cousins pass to Garcon was undercut by Desmond Trufant, giving the Falcons the ball back at the Redskins’ 39-yard line. This time the Falcons offense did take advantage, getting some points on the board. Matt Bryant hit a 51-yard field goal to push Atlanta’s lead to 27-20 with 3:25 left in the game.
Cousins hit on two third-down conversions to Aldrick Robinson, with the latter coming just after the two-minute warning and putting the ball into Falcons territory. Cousins then hit on his next three passes to get the ball down to the 21-yard line. Then with 35 seconds left in the game, he found Logan Paulsen on the sideline for an 11-yard grab that put the ball on the 10-yard line. On the next play, Cousins was flagged for a delay of game penalty that backed up the Redskins five yards. But he then hit Robinson again for a 12-yard score. That was followed up by a pick play to Santana Moss for a three-yard score, cutting the Falcons lead to 27-26 with 18 seconds left in the game. Rather than kicking the extra point to tie the game and send it into overtime, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan opted to go for the win. Cousins pass to Garcon was tipped by Desmond Trufant, nearly sealing the Falcons win.
The Redskins attempted an onside kick, which was muffed by Patrick DiMarco. But Jason Snelling was there to recover the ball. Matt Ryan knelt on the ensuing play, and the clock ran out with the Falcons escaping with a win.
Next week, they face the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night football on the road.