As what has become seemingly the norm for the Falcons this season, the team won a thrilling victory at home against the Baltimore Ravens by a score of 26-21. This moves the Falcons record to 7-2 and at the forefront of the NFC hunt for home field advantage come January.
Matt Ryan led the way, completing 32 of 50 passes for 316 yards and 3 touchdowns. His attempts and completions mark career highs, and his touchdown total matches his career high. HIs 316-yard mark is the second-most of his career and certainly a season high. Michael Turner was bottled up by the stout Ravens defense, being held to 17 carries for 39 yards. Roddy White had a strong performance, despite being listed as questionable going into tonight’s game with a knee injury. He finished with 12 receptions for 138 yards and 2 scores, including a 33-yard game-winner with 45 seconds left on the clock. Jason Snelling added 6 catches for 56 yards and a score himself. Michael Jenkins contributed with 5 grabs for 48 yards, Tony Gonzalez added 4 catches for 38 yards.
The Falcons were the first on the board, but did not do so until their third offensive series. It was a 14-play drive for 91 yards that ended in a 28-yard scamper by Snelling on a Ryan pass. The defense held firm, and when the ensuing Falcons possession ended with a punt, the special teams were able to create a turnover by stripping Ravens punt returner Lardarius Webb for a fumble. The Falcons then went 43 yards to close out the first half, ending in a field goal by Matt Bryant. Their opening possession of the second half was caused by a Brent Grimes interception, leading to another field goal. The Ravens would strike back with a Anquan Boldin touchdown catch to get their first points and cut the game to a one-score lead midway through the third quarter. The Falcons would get their first score from White on a 4-yard pas from Ryan with 11:39 left in the fourth quarter. The Ravens marched down the field to cut it back to a 6-point deficit on a 11-play 75-yard drive ending in a Derrick Mason touchdown catch for 6 yards. The Ravens would then take the lead on their next possession with 1:10 left in the game on a 9-yard pass to Todd Heap. On the ensuing drive, Matt Ryan hit Michael Jenkins for 24 yards on a 3rd & 10 to get the ball to midfield. The following play had Ryan hit White for 15 yards to get the ball to the Ravens 41. On the ensuing third down, Ryan tried to link up with Tony Gonzalez, but the pass was incomplete. But a pass interference call on Tavares Gooden led to a first down. The next play the Falcons hit White for the game-winning score. The Ravens got the ball back with 20 seconds left in the game and were unable to score.
Defensively, the Falcons were fairly successful due to the early lead the offense got. The Ravens were successful running the ball, gaining 116 yards and averaging 5.5 yards per carry, but their early deficit meant the running game wasn’t a serious deciding factor in the game. Curtis Lofton led the team with 10 stops. John Abraham (4 tackles, 2 sacks), Jonathan Babineaux (2 tackles), Chauncey Davis (5 tackles), Thomas DeCoud (2 tackles), Brent Grimes (6 tackles, 1 interception), William Moore (4 tackles), Stephen Nicholas (6 tackles), and Mike Peterson (4 tackles) had noteworthy games.
On special teams, Matt Bryant hit from 28 and 51 yards. The 51-yarder he hit in the third quarter was his longest as a Falcon and the longest of a Falcon kicker since Michael Koenen hit one from the same distance in 2006. Koenen finished the game with 5 punts for an average of 38.2 yards, including 2 inside the 20-yard line. Eric Weems returned his lone kickoff for 33 yards and his lone punt return for 16 yards. He also made a brilliant tackle on Ravens returner David Reed on the kickoff on their final drive to keep the Ravens from maximizing field position, forcing them to start at their own 14-yard line.
Next week the Falcons will travel to St. Louis to take on the Rams. Four of their next five games will be on the road. The two teams are long-time rivals dating back to their shared days in the NFC West. But since realignment in 2002, the Falcons have won 3 of 5 matchups, with their most recent win at home in 2008 by a score of 31-27. The Falcons have lost five straight in St. Louis, with their most recent win coming during the 1998 Super Bowl season. All-time the Falcons are 2-7 when facing off against the Rams in St. Louis. The Rams have won 4 straight at home, after losing 14 in a row there dating back to the 2008 season.