Kevin C. Cox

Cardinals vs. Falcons: Atlanta holds on for ugly 23-19 win over Cardinals

Atlanta is going for its ninth win of the season.

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Falcons' Jones, Samual nicked up in Week 11

The Atlanta Falcons saw Julio Jones and Asante Samuel leave with injuries during their 23-19 win over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 11.


Falcons pry a tough win away from hungry Cardinals

Among the laundry list of Falcons wins across the 2012 season, Atlanta's ninth win of the season over Arizona on Sunday might rank as the ugliest.

If we've learned anything from Matt Ryan, it's that he can propel his team to victory despite having a far from stellar day - 300 yards but zero touchdowns and a whopping career-high five interceptions - passing the ball.

Indeed, it was Ryan and the offense's six turnovers, not the defense, that made this game so close. Any time you can make that many mistakes and still hold the other team to 19 points and win the game, it is a testament to strong defense.

Either that, or it is a testament to how impotent Arizona's offense was in the Georgia Dome. Two Cardinals quarterbacks - John Skelton and first-time starter Ryan Lindley - combined for 11 completions and 70 yards passing.

Yes, that was through sixty minutes of football. Yes, that was with Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd in the game at wide receiver. Yes, that was with LaRod Stephens-Howling picking up chunks of yards from time to time, and with favorable field position.

The Cardinals offense, though I respect them, was outmatched in every sense of the world.

Ryan, along with some admittedly poor blocking that led to far-from-clean pockets and tight passing windows, had a day I wish I could forget. Michael Turner and each of the 46 yards he produced on 15 carries were not much better.

The Falcons are 9-1, and impressive accomplishment. But at some point, a point we'll surely see soon enough, this team either fixes the flaws that show up from week to week, or Atlanta fans will be at risk of more January disappointment.


Falcons trail by field goal, try to prevent upset

The Falcons are barely hanging on and trying to escape this day with a win as the Cardinals lead by three with over nine minutes left.

Matt Ryan threw a career-high fourth interception - and you can't even blame this one on a tipped pass - and the offense has sputtered to zero second-half points so far. Ryan's most recent pick resulted in another Cardinals field goal.

Michael Turner has remained largely ineffective, with 10 rushes for 29 yards, and Ryan - with a hobbled Julio Jones, no run game, poor blocking and a Tony Gonzalez disappearing act - has failed to spark any momentum on the offensive side of the ball.

On defense, the Falcons have managed to keep the rookie Ryan Lindley pretty quiet (he's just nine of 17 passing for 64 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions) and limited LaRod Stephens-Howling on the ground.

No, blame for the current losing effort rests solely on the offense's, and Ryan's, shoulders. Stay tuned to see if Matty Ice and Co. can pull another last-second win out of their rear ends.


Falcons fight to tie game after rough 1st quarter

If the first quarter of this Falcons game was weird, the second quarter certainly continued that trend.

After a miserable two-for-seven passing performance at quarterback, the Cardinals chose to bench John Skelton in favor of rookie Ryan Lindley, who was just as ineffective passing the ball (two passes completed for 18 yards).

The difference maker for Atlanta, however, was that Matt Ryan stopped throwing interceptions and started leading the offense to points. 16 second-quarter points, in fact.

His passing line now sits at 17 completions for 203 yards on the day, including five to Roddy White for 98 yards.

On defense, Atlanta also managed to step their game up and forget about a miserable start to the ball game. John Abraham recorded a sack and forced Lindley to fumble, which was scooped up by Jonathan Babineaux and returned for a touchdown.

And despite LaRod Stephens-Howling already having 113 yards on the ground, including another brutal 50-yard rush by the Arizona back, the Falcons defense has been allowing field goals instead of touchdowns.

Cornerback Robert McClain has been a tackling force, both on defense and special teams, and Dunta Robinson has been instrumental in holding Larry Fitzgerald catch-less so far.

With all the momentum pointing in Atlanta's favor, look for the Falcons to come out confident and ready to score in the second half.


Falcons off to shaky, turnover-riddled home

If you're a little confused by the first quarter of this Falcons game, don't feel alone.

In events only capable of occurring in Bizarro World, Matt Ryan pulled a Peyton Manning and threw three first quarter interceptions in the Georgia Dome.

Now, these weren't all Ryan's fault of course. His first pass of the game, intended for the usually reliable Roddy White, was tipped and intercepted by Rashad Johnson.

Arizona took over on the Atlanta nine, and took only two plays to work its offense across the goal line for a LaRod Stephens-Howling touchdown.

A three-and-out on the ensuing Falcons possession was followed up by the team's porous run defense allowing Stephens-Howling to rumble 40 yards into Atlanta territory. Jay Feely's 48-yard field goal attempt held true.

Later in the quarter, another tipped pass - this one redirected by Darnell Dockett - landed in the hands of Cardinals defender William Gay.

And to complete the hat trick, a wobbly third down pass intended for Tony Gonzalez found its way into the waiting arms of Kerry Rhodes. Arizona would convert that turnover into another field goal, giving itself a 13-point lead.

I'm not sure who has been worse: Ryan, or the offensive line. Matty Ice has looked shaky on a couple of his throws, but the line has offered minimal if any protection when the Cardinals have blitzed.

The lack of a running attack - Michael Turner has six carries for 15 yards at time of writing - has only exacerbated the problems.

It's not all gloom and doom yet. John Skelton is still an ineffective passer, and the Falcons only trail by 10 at home with over 40 minutes left to play. The Cardinals are still a solid team in their own right as well.

But for as good as we thought this team was just two weeks ago, it's been a cold splash of water to the face for Falcons fans.


Cardinals vs. Falcons gameday guide

Atlanta is going for its ninth win of the season.

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