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Julio Jones credited both of his huge touchdown catches to practice, practice, practice; specifically the move he made to cut away for 80 yards on his second score was one he'd used earlier in the week while preparing for the Colts. Jones told the Falcons' official site:
"We practiced that. I had a similar thing in practice running a slant and making somebody miss and it kind of carried over to the game. We knew we could hit these guys, they play a lot of cover two, and make the corner miss then we had the safety one on one tried to make him miss as well."
While Jones' on-field play looked so effortless it was almost choreographed, the actual dance routine he and other receivers lept into after a touchdown didn't sit too well with head coach Mike Smith, per the AJC:
"My message was real simple: You can’t celebrate on the field," Smith said. "If you want to do that, you can do that in the bench area or on the sideline. But there was a potential for a 15-yard penalty."
The Falcons committed one penalty against the Colts. Through their first seven games, they collected 15 more penalties than they had last season, when the Falcons were the least-penalized team in the league.
"That’s the reason that we don’t want to have those types of dances or those types of celebrations," Smith said. "You can’t have group celebrations on the playing field. It’s in the rulebook. It’s the rule. We want to make sure that we are all on the same page. We are all trying to eliminate penalties."
Corner Kelvin Hayden, brought onto Atlanta's roster to help shore up a thin secondary after he was cut by the Colts earlier this year, got an interception early against his old team, but wanted to house it in hopes of showing Indy what they'd let go of:
"It meant a lot, definitely," Hayden said. "When you come back to play your former team you want to perform well. There is nothing better than getting an interception. I wish I could have returned it for a touchdown."
That's the kind of touchdown celebration we wish we could've seen: some post break-up Tina Turner type closure.
The Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints are poised for a divisional showdown in Week 10 at the Georgia Dome.
The Colts are who we thought they were, and the Falcons didn't let them off the hook. The defense was stout, and on offense Julio Jones finished the day with three catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns. This win makes it three in a row for the Dirty Birds, who will take all the rest and momentum they can get as they prepare for a huge showdown with the New Orleans Saints next week.
As far as this matchup is concerned, there was very little that went wrong for the Falcons. Though Matt Ryan made a few bad passes in the first half (including the pick-six), he ultimately settled down and made enough throws to keep the Falcons on the field in the third quarter. Michael Turner put up a respectable 71 yards rushing (on 19 carries), and Jacquizz Rodgers got a season high 10 carries for 44 yards.
Actually, I'm going to go ahead and call everything the Falcons did in this game respectable. They cut down on penalties. We saw some explosive plays. The pass rush was great, and Sean Weatherspoon was all over the place. Even Matt Bosher and the special teams unit did a great job as well. All in all, it was a complete win over a team that has some big problems. Go Falcons!
For once this season, the Falcons have not allowed their lead to diminish in the third quarter. While that may be more a testament to the ineptitude of the Colts offense, it is nevertheless good to see the Falcons winning convincingly (as expected).
What's impressive is unlike the first half, the Falcons were able to produce one of those long, methodical drives they are known for. On their second possession of the half, Matt Ryan settled down after a shaky first half and orchestrated 12-play scoring drive that took over 7:30 off the clock. And who else would come through as Mr. Clutch on the drive but Tony Gonzalez?
While Michael Turner lost some effectiveness this quarter, Gonzalez caught three passes for 32 yards on the drive, including a one-yard TD that would extend the Falcons lead to 28-7.
On the other side of the ball, Sean Weatherspoon has been absolutely all over the place. Both he and Curtis Lofton have combined for 11 tackles and 9 assists on defense. For 'Spoon, this is just another impressive performance in what has been a breakout year for the sophomore linebacker. In fact, on the only Colts possession of the quarter he made all three stops on defense. Wow.
Beyond that, it's been business as usual. Barring a catastrophic breakdown, the Falcons will head into next week with a 5-3 record and a bump up to second place in the NFC South.
Julio Jones has two catches in this ball game. One of those is the previously mentioned fifty yard touchdown catch. Now he's added an 80 yard touchdown catch to today's impressive performance. <Julio Jones stats>
On defense (as has been the case all day), the Falcons have allowed yards but no points. On some plays, Curtis Painter has been able to effectively pass against the Atlanta secondary. But on others, Painter just looks lost. His throws will sail nowhere near the intended receivers. It's also worth noting the Falcons have gotten good pressure from the front four, with both Babineaux and Peters notching sacks.
After again stopping the Colts, the Falcons only took three plays to go the 87 yards to the goal line (most of it obviously on the pass to Jones). It's been an impressive performance so far, to say the least. Rather, it's been impressive outside of an poor decision by Ryan that was easily picked off for a touchdown. Simply put, it was ugly, and I have no idea what Ryan was thinking on the play. That pick would cut the Falcons' lead to 21-7.
So the Falcons would take over on offense with just under four minutes left in the half, and on the very first play Ryan would execute a fantastic play-action and find Roddy White downfield for a 33-yard gain. Afterwards however, the drive would stall and be forced to punt. Matt Bosher, who's had a pretty impressive day, pinned the Colts on their own two. A quick three and out would give the ball back to Ryan and the offense.
But that would net no gain, either. Ever since the 80-yard score, the offense has looked out of sync. Ryan has been struggling with his accuracy as well, just as he did in Detroit. Let's hope the dreaded third quarter doesn't allow the underwhelming Colts back into this game, as the Falcons enter the half leading 21-7.
Following the early Falcons score, the Colts took over on offense and actually found some success in the passing game. In fact, while running the no-huddle Curtis Painter displayed some remarkable efficiency, mixing in a few running to plays to Donald Brown along the way. Painter wasn't flawless, but he was competent.
That is, until Painter was picked off by former teammate Kelvin Hayden as the Colts had just crossed over into Falcons territory, eliminating any threat of an Indy score. After the second Falcons possession didn't produce any plays of note, the defense took the field again and performed much better than their first outing. Atlanta forced a three-and-out, and very quickly the Falcons were back on the offense again.
And boy did they deliver this time. After relying solely on the running game on their first scoring drive, this time Matt Ryan would hook up with his rookie Julio Jones twice, the second of those completions being a fifty-yard touchdown. With that score, Julio notches the first NFL touchdown of his career, hopefully the first of many more to come.
Much like their first scoring drive, the second one was short but sweet, only taking three plays. What's even better is that Jones has returned to action looking as if he hasn't missed a beat.
Now through almost one quarter of play, the Falcons hold a 14-0 lead over Indianapolis.
Starting Atlanta Falcons strong safety William Moore had to leave Lucas Oil Stadium's field during the first quarter against the Indianapolis Colts. He has a thigh injury and is questionable to return for the rest of Sunday's game.
Moore has 31 tackles and a pick this season, part of a 105-tackle, six-interception three-year career. He missed 14 games during his rookie season due to injury, but has been mostly healthy since then, playing all 16 games in 2010 and all seven so far this year.
In his absence, James Sanders takes over. Sanders has been handy as a utility safety, having filled in for Thomas DeCoud earlier in the year. It could be a big day for late additions to the Falcons secondary. Kelvin Hayden, who joined around the same time as Sanders did just days before the season began, picked off his former team earlier in this game.
We're under way in Indianapolis, and the Falcons have already taken a one touchdown lead in this one. On only the second play from scrimmage, the big 5-0 Curtis Lofton was able to strip the ball away from Delone Carter, which was then promptly recovered by Ray Edwards.
Worth noting on offense is the return of Julio Jones to the lineup after missing two games with a hamstring injury. Also interesting (and warranted, in my opinion) is the benching of struggling guard Garrett Reynolds. Joe Hawley will get the start at right guard in his place.
In any case, the offense would take over at the Indy 26-yard line and punch it across the goal line in five plays, all running. Four of those carries would go to Michael Turner, and on his fourth he'd push through the Colts' D-line for the one-yard score.
While the Colts aren't a dangerous team by any means, you certainly don't want to allow a slow start to give your opponent motivation. By forcing a turnover and scoring early, the Falcons have taken the first steps to ensuring a win this afternoon.
The big news for the Atlanta Falcons injury report is that wide receiver Julio Jones is back in the lineup after being out for a few games with a hamstring injury. Not only is Jones back in the lineup he is expected to start today against the Colts.
Atlanta Falcons inactive list:
Cornerback Darrin Walls
Running back Antone Smith
Linebacker Spencer Adkins
Center Brett Romberg
Tackle Sam Baker
Defensive tackler Carlton Powell
Defensive end Cliff Matthews
The Falcons also have a lineup change with Will Svitek starting at the left tackle spot for the injured Sam Baker.
Indianapolis Colts inactive list:
Wide receiver Blair White
Quarterback Peyton Manning
Defensive back Prince Miller
Guard Seth Olsen
Guard Joe Reitz
Defensive tackle Drake Nevis
A lucky 13 games await fans in Week 9, including Atlanta back from its bye week (allegedly), a Bucs-Saints rematch in The Big Easy, and Jay Cutler getting sacked in cold weather. The picks are here!
The Falcons head to Indianapolis this weekend to take on the winless Colts, and will be making the trip to the Hoosier State with just one major player out, according to Friday's official injury report.
Julio Jones, who had been limited in practice earlier in the week, fully participated on Friday and is listed as probable for the game on Sunday; he's likely to play, according to ESPN's John Clayton. Tight end Tony Gonzalez also fully participated on Friday, and is listed as probable. That means that only tackle Sam Baker is out for the Week 9 match-up.
On Indianapolis' side, the Colts will be without Peyton Manning as usual, and could be without a host of other players. Both running back Joseph Addai and center Jeff Saturday did not participate in practice on Friday, and are among a whopping 12 Colts listed as questionable.
Here's the rest of the Falcons injury report for Week 9:
OUT: Tackle Sam Baker (back).
PROBABLE: Defensive end John Abraham (non-injury-related), tight end Tony Gonzalez (back), wide receiver Julio Jones (hamstring), center Todd McClure (non-injury-related), cornerback Chris Owens (concussion).
Indianapolis is returning two key offensive linemen, Ryan Diem and Anthony Castonzo, from injury, but the Colts are still the same team with a -131 point differential, worst in the NFL. To give some perspective, only three teams in the NFL had a worse point differential through the entire season last year than Indianapolis has through eight games.
While Peyton Manning's injury has dominated the headlines, the Colts defense, a small unit built to rush the passer and protect leads, has completely imploded this year. They've given up 252 points in eight games, 45 more than 2nd-worst Carolina.
The game Sunday is a great opportunity for an Atlanta Falcons offense with a lot of weapons to get going, as they are ranked 18th in the league in pass offense and 17th in rush offense.
With Curtis Painter at the helm of an even more listless Colts offense, the over/under for this game is only 45 points.
For the latest NFL line moves, check out our partners at Odds Shark.
After missing two weeks with a hamstring injury and having an additional bye week to recuperate, Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones will play this Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, according to a report from ESPN's John Clayton:
ClaytonESPN John Clayton
Playing against an Indianapolis Colts defense that gave up 62 points to New Orleans two weeks ago, Jones will have a great opportunity to score his first career NFL touchdown.
Falcons head coach Mike Smith even mentioned that Jones' absence might end up being a net positive for the rookie from Alabama, as it gave him a time to decompress mentally and watch an NFL game from an outsider's perspective.
Atlanta, after giving up a bounty of draft picks to acquire Jones in a draft-day trade, threw him directly into the mix after the lockout ended. Unlike a typical rookie, he never had the chance to get familiar with the nuances of the NFL game in off-season mini-camps because of the lockout.
Color that Mike Smith an optimist: Despite the Falcons' losing their prize Draft pick Julio Jones to a hamstring injury for two games (and a bye week), Smith opted to find the silver lining in the rookie's absence as a time to soak in the offense he was so quickly thrown into after the lockout in July:
"...I think when you have a negative, when a guy gets hurt, it is a negative, but there’s also some positives that can come out of it. I think for Julio, being able to stand on the side and just kind of watch, he’s kind of been thrown in from the beginning of July. To get an opportunity to watch some of the other guys go through the practices and spend time watching and not necessarily participating can be a positive."
Smith then added that a decade of playoff collapses for the crosstown Braves were "a great chance for stadium concession workers to earn an extra paycheck or two before the holiday season!" and then released two doves into the air, both named D'Angelo Hall.
Jones practiced with the team again on Thursday, continuing a week of limited involvement after not practicing at all since the injury occurred against Green Bay October 9. Here's a full list of the Falcons' injury report from Thursday:
|DE John Abraham (not injury related)||Full Participation|
|T Sam Baker (back)||Did Not Practice - Out|
|TE Tony Gonzalez (back)||Limited Participation|
|WR Julio Jones (hamstring)||Limited Participation|
|C Todd McClure (not injury related)||Full Participation|
|CB Chris Owens (concussion)||Full Participation
The Atlanta Falcons will try to not become the first team to fall to the Indianapolis Colts this weekend while New Orleans and Tampa Bay meet in a key divisional match up.
The injuries mount for the Indianapolis Colts whose season doesn't seem like it could go anymore wrong. In addition to Peyton Manning who is out after neck surgery, regulars Dwight Freeney, Terrence Johnson, Jeff Saturday, Dallas Clark and Joseph Addai either didn't participate or were limited in practice.
At 0-8, you have to wonder when exactly the Colts might rest some normal starters permanently in an effort to improve its draft positioning. Peyton Manning's neck injury suggests that his career may be nearing the end and Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck appears to be the top prize in this year's draft. The Colts could potentially improve themselves in the long run by losing games on the field this season.
Here is a look at the full Indianapolis Colts injury report for November 2.
|QB Peyton Manning (neck)||DNP-O|
|G Joe Reitz (knee)||DNP-O|
|LB Kavell conner (non-injury rest)||DNP|
|TE Brody Eldridge (knee)||DNP|
|DE Dwight Freeney (non-injury rest)||DNP|
|CB Terrence Johnson (hamstring)||DNP|
|C Jeff Saturday (knee)||DNP|
|WR Blair White (knee)||DNP|
|T Anthony Castonzo (ankle)||LP|
|TE Dallas Clark (knee)||LP|
|DT Drake Nevis (back)||LP|
|T Quinn Ojinnaka (shoulder)||LP|
|G Mike Pollak (hamstring)||LP|
|RB Joseph Addai (hamstring)||FP|
|LB Pat Angerer (knee)||FP|
|G Ryan Diem (ankle)||FP|
For Julio Jones, just getting on the practice field has to be an improvement. The rookie wide receiver from Alabama was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday, running routes with the wide receivers and getting back in the swing of things was the number one priority for Jones.
The Falcons need Jones, and the rest of their offensive stars, healthy for the back half of their remaining schedule. At 4-3, they're in a dog fight with the Saints (5-3) and Bucs (4-3) and with the Colts trying to get their first win of the season, nothing is guaranteed for Atlanta.
Here is the full Atlanta Falcons injury report for Wednesday, November 2nd:
|DE John Abraham (not injury related)||DNP|
|T Sam Baker (back)||DNP|
|TE Tony Gonzalez (back)||DNP|
|WR Julio Jones (hamstring)||LP|
|C Todd McClure (not injury related)||DNP|
|CB Chris Owens (concussion)||FP|
Starting Atlanta Falcons left tackle Sam Baker will miss three or four more games while recovering from a back injury, coach Mike Smith announced at his Wednesday afternoon press conference. Will Svitek will get the start, as he did when Baker couldn't go against the Detroit Lions two weeks ago.
Atlanta's bye week came at an opportune time, with Todd McClure and John Abraham re-joining the lineup while Baker and Julio Jones got to take one more week off. Unfortunately, looks like Baker will need more time. No word yet on Jones, but it'll be up to Svitek to handle Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, along with former Falcons DE Jamaal Anderson.
Svitek made six career starts coming into 2011, adding another to his credit so far this year. He's also growing a mustache for prostate cancer awareness month according to Roddy White, which is pretty manly.
For more on the Falcons, visit Falcons blog The Falcoholic.
An offensive line is a quarterback's best friend, and it seems that struggling QB Curtis Painter will get some much needed help, as the Colts' two starting offensive tackles -- 11th year veteran Ryan Diem and rookie Anthony Castonzo -- are expected back after playing in only seven games combined this season.
Diem, a versatile 6'6 320 lineman who has played at multiple positions in his ten seasons as a starter in Indianapolis, has been an anchor on the Colts offensive line for most of the Peyton Manning era. He's missed five games this year with an ankle injury.
Castonzo, a 6'7 311 OT out of Boston College, was the No. 27 pick of the first round, and an ankle sprain has kept him out of four games.
Both players will be tested by Falcons All-Pro DE John Abraham, who has three sacks this season.
Anderson, a 6'6 275 defensive end out of Arkansas, was supposed to be a dominant edge rusher, but he never lived up to his draft expectations in his four seasons in Atlanta.
In his first three years, he started 44 games and had only 2.5 sacks for the Falcons, before being moved to the DT position and eventually being released after the 2010 season.
He was signed by the Colts, where he has been a reserve defensive lineman with 13 tackles and one sack in eight games. Indianapolis will hope his experience against his former teammates will help them win their first game of the season on Sunday:
pwilson24 Phillip B WilsonConsensus from
#Colts DE Dwight Freeney and former Falcons DE Jamaal Anderson on Atlanta RB Michael Turner: "He's a bowling ball."
Anderson and his teammates on the Colts front seven will have their hands full against Turner, as they allow 102.1 yards a game, 22nd in the NFL.
The gang over Stampede Blue dives into the explanation finally delivered by Colts Vice Chairman Bill Polian as to why injured quarterback Peyton Manning is on Indianapolis' active roster - in short, the organization wants to evaluate him as soon as they can, which would mean having Manning practice with the team.
Yes: We're talking about practice. There's no way in hell Manning suits up and mounts a comeback for the woeful Colts against Atlanta this Sunday. Rather it's a much more sobering indicator that Indy might dump Peyton in the offseason if the nerve damage to his shoulder and arm hasn't improved:
We just don't know. More importantly, the Colts don't seem to know either. In December, they very much want to know.
Next year, Peyton is due roughly $28 million dollars per the contract he signed in July. If the Colts intend to keep Peyton after 2011 and pay him that money, they need some kind of reasonable assurance that he can still play. They also need to know if he will be around because, like it or not, Peyton's opinion has significant weight with the Colts owner, Jim Irsay. Despite a horrible season, should Peyton not want Jim Caldwell fired, Irsay will listen to and possibly heed Peyton's wishes.
Manning will be 36 this time next year. Do you see him wanting to start over, at this stage of his career, with a new coach? Do you think Manning, who has a long history with Caldwell (his former QB coach), is going to throw his head coach under the bus
New acquisition Mike Cox is listed as the starter at fullback on the Atlanta Falcons official website. Both he and Jason Snelling figure to see time in trying to replace injured starter Ovie Mughelli.
Despite ranking in the back half of SB Nation's power rankings for Week 9, the Atlanta Falcons are climbing in the rankings at ESPN, CBS Sports and Fox Sports.
Atlanta is the second-lowest ranked four-win team in the NFL at No. 19.
AJCFalcons D. Orlando Ledbetter
Jones, whom the Falcons acquired in a draft day trade, has had a solid, if not spectacular, rookie season so far, with 25 receptions for 358 yards.
While expectations were sky-high for the rookie from Alabama, wide receivers have one of the most difficult transitions to make to the pro game out of college.
Jones has yet to catch a touchdown in his NFL career, but Atlanta's game this week against the hapless Indianapolis Colts, who gave up 62 points to the New Orleans Saints earlier this season, may be a great opportunity for him if he's fully healthy.
For the latest news and analysis on the Falcons, head on over to the Falcoholic.
Assuming they can make it through a very tough first half of the schedule (and I truly think they can), the Falcons will face off with the Indianapolis Colts during week nine of the 2011 season. Fortunately for the Falcons, this game falls right after their bye week, which should give the team a slight advantage as far as rest and gameplanning are concerned. Let's check out how Peyton Manning & Co. will fare against the Dirty Birds:
Record: 10-6, AFC South Champions
Last Meeting: Thanksgiving, 2007 (Falcons lost 31-13)
Notable Additions: LB Ernie Sims, DT Tommie Harris, DE Jamaal Anderson, QB Kerry Collins
Notable Losses: OT Charlie Johnson, LB Clint Session
The Colts, consistently one of the quieter teams in free agency, accomplished goal No. 1 by resigning Manning to a five-year contract extension worth over $90M. They brought in a few veteran defenders, including former Falcon Jamaal Anderson, but otherwise the Colts look very similar to last year's division-winning team.
For Indianapolis, the story has almost always been the same: a prolific air attack featuring multiple receivers, couple with a "bend but don't break" defense very much similar to the Falcons units of recent years. The Colts should prove to be a tough customer for Grimes and the Atlanta secondary.
The difference in this game, however, will be decided in the trenches. Matt Ryan will finally get to face off against Manning, the QB he is so often compared to, but with the Colts high profile offense it may be too much to put the weight of the team completely on his shoulders. The Falcons will need to get pressure on Manning courtesy of the front four. Abraham, Edwards, and Babineaux will have to be out in full force that night.
All in all, I expect this to be one of the better games on the schedule. Given the Falcons will have an extra week to prepare and get healthy, I fully expect Mike Smith to have a solid game plan in place for number 18. The Colts are always a good gauge for the strength of a team, and should the Falcons prove victorious they will be on their way to successful play down the stretch.
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