Turner helps Falcons power through Browns


Michael Turner (AP)

The Falcons took their record to 4-1 with a 20-10 victory on the road vs. the Cleveland Browns. Down early in the game, the Falcons fought back from a 6-7 halftime deficit to make some big plays in the second half to win the game.

Matt Ryan got off to a slow start, completing 8 of his first 20 pass attempts for 92 yards. But he completed his final 8 attempts for 95 yards, including a 45-yard scoring strike to Roddy White. He finished the day 16 of 28 for 187 yards and a score. Michael Turner had a strong day on the ground, rushing for 140 yards on 19 carries, including a 55-yarder in the first half. Jason Snelling added 18 yards on 6 carries. Roddy White had another standout performance, leading the team with 101 yards receiving on 5 catches, and a score. Tony Gonzalez also added 5 receptions for 41 yards. Harry Douglas had 2 receptions for 17 yards. The Falcons passing game struggled early in the game, and the Falcons were stalled in the redzone on three attempts. They settled for field goals instead of touchdowns on all three tries, missing the third attempt. They were able to move the ball in the second quarter, but again couldn’t finish drives for touchdowns, and were more successful in the second half due to the big plays.

Defensively, the Falcons held the tough Browns running game to 48 total yards, a team that had averaged 116.5 yards on the ground in their first four contests. The Browns passing game was a little bit more successful, as Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme combined for 221 yards. Wallace was able to complete 11 of 15 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown, but was injured on a sack by John Abraham at the end of the first half. The Falcons were more successful in the second half with Delhomme under center, as he only completed 13 of 23 passes for 97 yards with 2 interceptions. The first pick came at a critcal time as Kroy Biermann tipped a pass up in the air to himself, and then ran 41 yards for a touchdown to put the game away 20-10 with 4 minutes left in the fourth quarter. The next pick came on the ensuing drive with the Browns in the redzone, as John Abraham hit Delhomme as he threw, making for an easy interception by Stephen Nicholas at the Falcons own 13-yard line. Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes tied for the team lead with 6 tackles. Abraham (5 tackles, 2 sacks), Jamaal Anderson 91 tackle, 1 sack), Jonathan Babineaux (2 tackles, 1 forced fumble), Biermann (3 tackles, 1 interception), Thomas DeCoud (5 tackles), Curtis Lofton (5 tackles), William Moore (5 tackles, 1 fumble recovery), Chris Owens (4 tackles), Nicholas (4 tackles, 1 interception), Mike Peterson (4 tackles), and Sean Weatherspooon (5 tackles) all had noteworthy performances.

Matt Bryant hit from 24 and 30 yards, but had a 30-yarder blocked at the end of the first half. MIchael Koenen punted 4 times for an average of 43.3 yards, with 2 placed inside the 20, and one touchback. The Falcons did their best to try and keep return specialist Josh Cribbs contained. He only had a single punt return for 3 yards, and averaged 21 yards on 3 kickoff returns mainly because the team was pooch kicking. Eric Weems averaged 22 yards on 3 kickoff returns, including a nice 32-yarder. He had a single punt return for 8 yards.

The Falcons will go on the road next week vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. The Falcons got blasted by the Eagles at home last season by a score of 34-7, but were without both Matt Ryan and Michael Turner in that game. Included that loss, they have lost three straight to the Eagles dating back to 2006, and five straight games in Philadelphia dating back to 2000. The Eagles have won 7 of their last 8 contests against the Falcons. The Falcons lone win came in the season opener in 2005. Prior to that, they have not beat the Eagles since their 1998 Super Bowl season. The Eagles thus far are 0-2 at home this season and have not lost three straight home games since the end of the 2005 season.

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Aaron Freeman
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