Titans take down Falcons

AP/Mark Humphrey The Falcons record drops to 1-4 as they lost to the Tennessee Titans 20-13. It was a game marred by poor offensive play on the Falcons part despite five Titans turnovers and several big plays on special teams.

Joey Harrington struggled, completing 16 of 31 passes for only 87 yards with an interception that was returned 76 yards for a score. He was replaced by Byron Leftwich in the fourth quarter, who also failed in providing a spark. Leftwich finished the day 2 of 8 for 28 yards and an interception. On the ground, the Falcons really struggled. Artose Pinner led the team with 49 yards on his lone carry, which came on a fake punt. Warrick Dunn added 27 yards on 10 carries with Jerious Norwood carrying 6 times for 23 yards. Laurent Robinson led receivers with 4 catches for 27 yards. Roddy White caught 3 passes for 55 yards. The offense only was able to convert 4 of 18 third down attempts, with their first successful conversion not occuring until the second half. Most of Dunn’s yards came on an 18-yard run that put the Falcons in position to tie the game with little more than 2 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. That run put the ball on the Titans 1-yard line, but a botched pitch from Leftwich to Dunn and 3 incomplete passes by Leftwich culminated in the Falcons being unable to take advantage of that great opportunity.

Defensively, the Falcons forced four turnovers. They limited the Titans to 247 total yards, their lowest allowed output of the season. DeAngelo Hall returned a fumble forced by Jamaal Anderson 56 yards in the first quarter for the team’s lone touchdown. Michael Boley led the team with 14 tackles and had one of the team’s 3 interceptions. Trey Lewis (5 tackles, 1 interception), Demorrio Williams (5 tackles, 1 interception), Grady Jackson (5 tackles), Chris Houston (5 tackles), Keith Brooking (5 tackles, 1 hurry), Lawyer Milloy (5 tackles), and Jamaal Anderson (4 tackles, 1 forced fumble) had notable games. Hall finished with 1 stop and also broke up a pass.

Special teams was able to provide a few sparks that the offense was unable to capitalize on. Morten Andersen made 2 of 3 field goal attempts, coming up short on a 48-yarder. Michael Koenen got 2 opportunities on longer kicks but missed both from 53 and 50 yards. Koenen also had 6 punts for an average of 38 yards. Jerious Norwood had 3 kickoff returns for 144 yards (48.0 avg), almost scoring on a 76-yard return. A fifth Titans turnover was created on a muffed punt by Chris Davis. Dunn’s 18-yard run was set up on a botched punt in which Demorrio Williams came free, which forced Titans punter Craig Hentrich to be tackled for an 8-yard loss.

The Falcons will get some national exposure next week as they face off against the New York Giants at home on Monday Night Football. The road team has won this matchup each of the past 11 outings. The last time the home team has won in this matchup was in 1979, when the Giants won.

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Aaron Freeman
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