Despite Locker Rally, Falcons Finish The Job
Posted on 11/21/2011 7:41:54 AM
A week after they could not make a key fourth down in their own territory, the Atlanta Falcons converted on third-and-6 late in the game to seal the 23-17 victory and hold off a comeback from the Tennessee Titans.
Michael Turner ran for 100 yards and a score, while Roddy White had seven receptions for 147 yards, his highest total this season.
It appeared as if the Falcons (6-4) were going to put this game away early, but the Titans (5-5) were able to make a comeback led by their rookie quarterback, Jake Locker. Locker took over after Matt Hasselbeck injured his throwing arm late in the third quarter, with the Titans trailing, 23-3. Locker led two scoring drives capped off by touchdown throws to wideout, Nate Washington. Locker’s last drive was particularly impressive, going 84 yards for a touchdown on 14 plays, including converting on a fourth-and-17.
The Falcons’ early success was due to the play of Matt Ryan, who threw for 316 yards and connected with tight end Tony Gonzalez for a 17-yard touchdown. The Falcons once again faced a fourth-and-one in this game (though this time it took place in the second quarter, and at the Tennessee 36-yard line), which Ryan took care of himself with a 2-yard run. For the Titans, Nate Washington caught nine balls for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Chris Johnson, one week after rushing for 130 yards, carried the ball 12 times for a total of 13 yards, continuing his enigmatic season.
The difference between this game and the final drive the Falcons had last week in overtime was their ability to move the chains when it mattered most. The Falcons took over when it appeared Locker and the Titans had all the momentum, scoring 14 unanswered points and making the game a one-score contest, at 23-17. The Titans had all three of their timeouts, and after Michael Turner broke loose for 27 yards on the first play of the drive, the Falcons faced a third-and-6 with just under two minutes left. Ryan connected with Harry Douglas for six yards, and the Falcons then kneeled three times to end the game.
With this win, the Falcons make up some of the ground they lost against the Saints last week, with them on their bye week. They also stay among the wild card contenders, with Chicago and Detroit both winning on Sunday as well. With Julio Jones inactive, Roddy White was able to have his best game of the season and put up the totals that Falcons’ fans (and fantasy owners like myself) know that he is capable of. The Falcons welcome the 2-8 Minnesota Vikings to the Georgia Dome next Sunday.
With the loss, the Titans fall two games behind the idle Houston Texans. This game would have added pressure on the Texans and backup quarterback Matt Leinart, who is likely starting the rest of the season after Matt Schaub injured his foot. The positive for the Titans was clearly the play of first-round draft pick, Jake Locker. Locker threw for 140 yards and two touchdowns after taking over late in the third quarter. He kept drives alive, scored on two of his three possessions, and hit Nate Washington for a 40-yard touchdown on his third pass as a pro. The Titans return home to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Sunday.
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