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Atlanta Falcons rookie wide receiver Julio Jones left in the middle of Sunday's game versus the New Orleans Saints as he apparently re-aggravated his ailing hamstring. Jones expressed to head coach Mike Smith that he could return to the game, but the leadership decided to hold the Alabama product out the game.
"Again, we were going through the process with our training staff and doctors to determine if we could get him back in the ballgame and I know that he was doing everything in his power to show to the doctors and trainers that he was ready to go. But the determination was that it was in our best interest to hold him out. Of course, we want to have our players out there as much as we can, our best players out there, and he was definitely trying to get back on the field. That's what you want your guys to do." -- Mike Smith
The passing game struggled at times in the second half, and in the overtime period the Falcons failed to get a first down on three passing plays. That struggle lead to Mike Smith going for it on 4th and 1 on their own side of the field. That attempt failed, and the Saints kicked a field goal for the 26-23 victory.
For more on Sunday's game, check out The Falcoholic, SB Nation's Atlanta Falcons blog.
Obviously, most post-game questions surrounding the Atlanta Falcons' overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints were centered around the decision to go for it on fourth down in their own territory in overtime. Afterwards, Falcons' head coach Mike Smith took full responsibility for the decision.
"It was something that I take full responsibility for. It's my decision and my decision solely. First we were going to punt the football, then had a change of heart and I wanted us to go for it. I thought that the ball was inside a half a yard and thought that we could get it. I did not want to give the football back to the Saints. In previous games, in close games that we've played them, we've punted the ball and they've gotten the ball back with three minutes to go in the ballgame. We never saw it again, and they ended up winning the ball game. That was the decision making process that I went through."
Smith also said that they talked about running a quarterback sneak as opposed to handing the ball off to Michael Turnver several yards behind the line of scrimmage.
"We talked about that as well. We had gone through the process. This isn't something that you do half-hazard. These are things that you talk about. You have fourth and inches, you have fourth and one calls, you have fourth and three calls. We had seen the way that they lined up, because they called timeout, and we felt in the place and time the best play for us was the play that we ran. Unfortunately, it did not work out."
With only two minutes left, Matt Ryan would lead the Falcons offense on a 94-yard drive that culminated in a game-tying field goal as time expired. Though the Falcons won the toss, their red-hot offense would go three and out. Some great special teams play by Matt Bosher and the coverage team, however, would prevent Darren Sproles from gaining any yards on a return.
So, Drew Brees and the offense would march onto the field, and very quickly the Falcons would force a third-and-short. As they have all game, they've kept everything in front of them and prevented the Saints from making big plays on every drive. A third-down pass to Sproles would come up short, and the Saints would also go three-and-out. The Falcons would get another chance.
After finding Tony Gonzalez for a nine-yard game, Ryan checked down to new fullback Mike Cox in the flats, who made a great play to stretch out for the first down. However, further review of the play would spot the ball just short of the first down, bringing up a fourth-and-inches. Mike Smith would elect to go for it, brining up a do-or-die play for the Falcons.
It would come up short. The Falcons called for Turner to run it straight up the middle and he was simply stuffed in the backfield. The Saints would run a few plays and then kick the game-winning field goal, barely nabbing the 26-23 OT victory in the Georgia Dome.
It's a tough loss for sure, and though the Falcons are still alive and well in the playoff race, this loss makes an NFC South Championship seem pretty unlikely. Hopefully the Falcons can regroup and beat a Titans team next week that is by all accounts not bad. The Falcons played a darn good game, but just didn't get the W today.
At one point, the Falcons were down 23-13 with only seven minutes left in the game. Now, with two minutes left, they have a chance to either tie the game with a field goal or perhaps even winning it outright in the final minutes.
After the Matt Ryan tip-interception led to a Saints field goal, the Falcons went three-and-out. The Saints, after hitting Lance Moore on a 28-yard passing play, drove deep enough into Falcons territory to extend their lead to ten points.
And then with his back against the wall and without his rookie phenom Julio Jones, Ryan a nine-play, 80-yard drive that was capped off by a 20-yard touchdown pass over the middle to Tony Gonzalez. All of a sudden, the lead- and possibly a win- was in reach.
After not being able to recover an onside kick, the Saints drove all the way to the Falcons 27, but a holding penalty on the field goal attempt pushed their offense out of John Kasay range. A New Orleans punt would ensue, and the Falcons would have two minutes to drive from their own six down into field goal range.
Man, did Matt Ryan show the Saints how to run a two-minute drill. It was perhaps the sweetest offensive drive I've seen all season. In two plays, Ryan found Harry Douglas twice for 46 yards. A few plays later, he found Douglas again on a 20-yard gain. After a pass interference penalty set up a first down at the Saints 20, Ryan found Eric Weems for an 11-yard gain to the New Orleans nine.
After two tries for end zone came up short- one nearly ending in a Roman Harper interception- Matt Bryant would march on for the 27-yard field goal attempt and knock it true as time expired. With the Falcons and Saints now tied at 23 points apiece, this game is headed to overtime.
Well, the third quarter was an interesting one. On the first Saints possession, they managed to drive all the way down to the Atlanta 23, but as they have all day the defense bent but didn't break and forced the Saints to try for a field goal. This time, John Kasay's long attempt would come up short, and the Falcons got away without any hurt.
On offense, the Falcons managed to string together another fantastic, long drive. This time, they finally got the ball in for a touchdown. Matt Ryan found Harry Douglas three times on the drive, and when he wasn't involved Michael Turner was pounding the rock inside. Then at the New Orleans 20, Ryan amazingly was able to duck underneath a would-be sacker and found Jason Snelling on the short dumpoff pass.
And Snelling kept going, through seven Saints defenders in fact. Yes that's right, Snelling went through the entire Saints defense for the 21-yard TD catch to pull the Falcons ahead 13-10. On the next Saints possession however, Drew Brees would quickly answer with a touchdown of his own. After finding Marques Colston twice for 34 yards to begin the drive, he hit Robert Meachem deep on a 33-yard TD pass, pulling the Saints ahead by four.
To make matters worse, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Ryan's pass- which was intended for Roddy White- bounced of his most trusted receiver's hands and into the arms of Scott Shanle. The Falcons defense came up big by limiting the Saints to only a field goal, but John Kasay's attempt would hold true and extend their lead to seven points.
The Atlanta Falcons offense hasn't managed a whole lot early on against the New Orleans Saints, posting only six points to New Orleans' 10. Julio Jones has been bigger than his nine yards would suggest, as he's drawn plenty of attention and a pass interference penalty.
He headed to the locker room with an unclear situation, though he was jogging off the field and didn't spend any time on the turf before leaving. Early in the third quarter, he was sitting without his helmet, putting his chances of playing in this game in doubt.
He's listed as Questionable for the rest of the game.
He did reappear with the rest of the team after halftime, and was spotted stretching with a trainer and jogging on the sidelines. It's the hamstring that has kept him out of multiple games already this year and which he aggravated in practice this week.
Apparently mimicking the Falcons, the Saints' second possession of the game also resulted in a three-and-out. After the defense forced a third-and-eight, a wide open Jimmy Graham again dropped an intended pass, forcing New Orleans to punt. The Atlanta defense has played well, but they'll certainly take any mistake they can get as well.
On offense, the Falcons found some more success, but again a great drive just couldn't produce a touchdown. Running the no-huddle and taking advantage of some good field position, Ryan was much more effective. He found Roddy White on a 17-yard gain, and found Julio Jones for a six-yard gain on a big third-down. Jacquizz Rodgers even got into the action, picking up 14 rushing yards on the drive.
But on third down at the Saints' 10, Jabari Greer was just able to knock the ball out of Julio's hands on what would have surely been a touchdown. Instead, the Falcons would again settle for a field goal to pull ahead 6-3. Not bad, but certainly not enough when you're playing a Saints-caliber offense.
On the other side of the ball, the Falcons continued to give Drew Brees all sorts of time, but the coverage in the secondary- especially on third down- has made up for it all game. Though Brees has been able to find the open receiver at times, there really haven't been any big plays all game long. It's boring, sure. But for the Falcons, this is exactly the sort of game they want to keep playing.
After another Falcons' possession produced nothing on offense, Jimmy Graham basically took over the entire game by himself. Starting at midfield after another good return by Sproles, Brees completed two passes- both to Graham- for 50 yards and a score. I'm not exactly sure who was supposed to cover Graham, but I do know he was wide-open by at least a mile on both plays. The coverage inexplicably went from amazing to terrible in the span of two minutes.
Later in the quarter after a few possession changes, the Falcons began their drive with just over one minute left. More importantly, they began on their own one-yard line because Eric Weems yet again allowed a punt to roll instead of calling for the fair catch.
Despite all of this, despite Ryan not playing his best game, he really came through in the clutch. After a nice run by Turner got the Falcons a little breathing room, Ryan found Harry Douglas over the middle for a 46-yard gain into Saints territory. That would bring the Falcons into Matt Bryant field goal range, but he would miss his first kick of the year from 41 yards out. Entering the half, that would preserve the Saints 10-6 lead in this ball game.
It's Saints week, and the Atlanta Falcons' week 10 matchup is now under way in the Georgia Dome. As far as injuries are concerned, the Falcons will be without safety William Moore due to injury. James Sanders will start in his place. On the other side, the Saints will be without middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who was ruled out earlier in the week.
Right out of the gate, the Falcons put together a very impressive opening drive- one that spanned 15 plays and took over seven minutes off the clock, no less- that only produced three points. Michael Turner and the offensive line were dominant, as Turner carried the ball eight times for 39 yards, but a couple of incompletions by Matt Ryan and a false start on Will Svitek would limit the Falcons to a Matt Bryant field goal.
The Saints' first possession produced similar results. After a 39-yard return by Darren Sproles, Drew Brees quickly passed his way down into Falcons territory. However, a great play by Stephen Nicholas to stop Mark Ingram in the backfield, coupled with a third-down drop by Jimmy Graham, limited the Saints to a field goal as well.
On their next possession, the Falcons wouldn't find as much success, quickly going three-and-out. Ryan's second-down pass was deflected at the line, and on third-down his check down pass to Jacquizz Rodgers came up short of the first. Through one quarter of play, the Falcons are tied 3-3 with their division rivals.
The Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Lance Moore has been listed as questionable to play in today's game against the New Orleans Saints, however NFL Network's Albert Breer is reporting that Moore is active and that Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson and running back Chris Ivory are inactive. Other previously reported inactives are Falcons linebacker Jonathan Vilma and tackle Sam Baker.
Heres is the complete Saints inactive list for Week 10:
Here is the complete Falcons inactive list for Week 10:
It's an amazing NFL week, with nine match-ups seeing a point spread of four or less, and five that could legitimately claim "Game of the Week" status. Tread wisely, young gambler.
Atlanta hopes to pull even in the NFC South race by beating rival New Orleans in the first of two games in two months.
The New Orleans will be without starting middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who was ruled out for the game against the Atlanta Falcons earlier with a knee injury. Defensive end Turk McBride will also miss the game dealing with an ankle injury.
A few key offensive players could be missing from the Saints line up as well. Wide receiver Lance Moore has missed the last two days of practice dealing with a hamstring injury and is officially listed as questionable for Sunday. Running back Chris Ivory is also listed as questionable with a hamstring injury. Ivory has played in only two games this season, but the Saints running back by committee could use another back with Mark Ingram getting banged up this season. Cornerback Patrick Robinson is also listed as questionable with an abdominal injury.
For more on Sunday's game, check out The Falcoholic, SB Nation's Atlanta Falcons blog, and Canal Street Chronicles, SB Nation's New Orleans Saints blog. Stay tuned to SB Nation Atlanta, too, for the latest.
The Atlanta Falcons had a whopping eight players on their injury report today, not including defensive end John Abraham and center Todd McClure, who were both on the report for non-injury related reasons and both practice in full today.
In some bad news for the Falcons however, they will be without left tackle Sam Baker, who missed practice all week long dealing with a back injury. Safety William Moore is also listed as doubtful for Sunday's match up with the New Orleans Saints. The Falcons also had six other players on the injury report, all listed as probable.
For more on Sunday's game, check out The Falcoholic, SB Nation's Atlanta Falcons blog, and Canal Street Chronicles, SB Nation's New Orleans Saints blog. Stay tuned to SB Nation Atlanta, too, for the latest.
The Saints traded for the 6'1 230 LB before the 2008 season, and he's been a centerpiece of their defense since, going to Pro Bowls in 2009 and 2010.
In seven games this year, Vilma has 34 tackles and two pass deflections. His absence will be big blow for a mediocre New Orleans rush defense, which has allowed 119.7 yards a game this season, 17th in the NFL.
Atlanta will try to take advantage by featuring star RB Michael Turner, who has rushed for 692 yards and 7 TD's on 4.4 yards per carry this season. Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons star TE, could have a big game as well, as he should have more room to roam in the middle of the field.
Vegas knows what the fans of this rivalry preach: it's always a stressful, close affair when New Orleans and Atlanta meet. New Orleans opened as a mere half-point favorite, and that line has move to a single (-1). The Saints have been favorites in every game except their season opener at Green Bay, while the Falcons were dogs as recently as their win at Detroit three weeks ago.
New Orleans has been favored in four of the last five meetings, the exception coming in the teams' last meeting in Atlanta on December 27 of last season, a 17-14 Saints win over the Falcons (-3). But this line has been notoriously deceptive as Atlanta has slowly come of age behind Matt Ryan - the favorite hasn't covered since a four point win by New Orleans in December of 2008.
Sunday marks the beginning of a three game homestand that, if Atlanta can beat the Saints and pull even for first place in the NFC South, create a chance for the Falcons to pull away against sub-.500 Tennessee and Minnesota before these teams' next meeting on December 26. The Saints are 1-4 against the spread on the road this season, the Falcons 2-1 at home.
Atlanta Falcons safety William Moore and tackle Sam Baker missed their second straight day of practice as the team prepares to take on the New Orleans Saints in a key divisional matchup. Moore is out with an injured quad while Baker is battling a back injury. However, several Falcons including Ray Edwards (knee) and Tony Gonzalez (back) returned to the practice field in limited capacity.
Here is a look at the Atlanta Falcons full injury report for November 10:
|DE John Abraham (not injury related)||FP|
|T Sam Baker (back)||DNP|
|DE Ray Edwards (knee)||LP|
|TE Tony Gonzalez (back)||LP|
|CB Brent Grimes (knee)||LP|
|WR Julio Jones (hamstring)||LP|
|C Todd McClure (not injury related)||FP|
|S William Moore (quadricep)||DNP|
|DT Corey Peters (knee)||LP|
Atlanta and New Orleans will meet for the first time this season Sunday, with the Saints holding a slim half-game lead in the NFC South Division.
The New Orleans Saints are fortunate enough to have arguably the deepest running backfield in the entire NFL. From the veteran Pierre Thomas, to the jitterbug free-agent signee Darren Sproles, to the journeyman now hard runner Chris Ivory the Saints have plenty of folks to carry the rock.
However their most talented ball carrier, their first-round draft Mark Ingram, has missed the last two games with a heel injury suffered in the Saints 62-7 thrashing of the Indianapolis Colts. The rookie was a limited participant in practice Wednesday, and no word has been given if Ingram will play Suinday.
The Atlanta Falcons boast the 7th-ranked rushing defense, and having Ingram out of the lineup could be to the benefit of Mike Smith's defense.
Atlanta Falcons Injury Report
New Orleans Saints Injury Report
Last week the Falcons had a respite playing the Indianapolis Colts in which they were favored in an easy game, but this week wont be quite so easy from the folks from Atlanta. Moving from facing Curtis Painter to Drew Brees could the the biggest talent swing in the NFL, and an unfortunate one for the Atlanta secondary.
Despite being at home the betting community are slightly favoring the Saints either giving Atlanta a point at home, or keeping the game even depending on the outlet. It seem apropos to have the line this close in a game between the top two teams in the always volatile NFC South.
It seems with Julio Jones back in the line-up the Falcons have the jolt of energy they need again on offense as he's really kick started Matt Ryan again and gotten some big play ability into the Atlanta Falcon's offense. That being said, it's going to be very tough for the Falcons to stay close with the vaunted Saints offense on Sunday, particularly Darren Sproles who has been dominant in numerous phases of the game.
If I'm putting my money on this game then I'm not touching the line on the game. I don't have any faith one in either team enough to put my money on, so I'm looking at the over/under of 50. In this I'm taking the over as I think both teams will have an utter slug fest on offense, and while both teams have good defenses I don't think they'll be able to stop each other.
The Atlanta Falcons have a huge game this week against the division-leading New Orleans Saints that will have major implications on the NFC South division championship. The Falcons know that they have their hands full with Drew Brees and company, but it's the 5'6 190lb Darren Sproles that gives them the biggest problem heading into this game.
Sproles currently leads the Saints with 56 receptions on the season, which is good for 446 yards and three touchdowns. That's just under 50 yards per game out of the backfield. He's also their leading rusher with 347 yards on just 49 carries, that's a 7.1 yards per carry average. It's easy to see that the first-year Saint has quickly made his mark on this offense and this team.
Sproles is starting in only about 60% of fantasy football leagues right now. There aren't a lot of players out there right now that give you the consistent output that Sproles does each week. in six of his nine games this season, Sproles has given double-digit fantasy points in ESPN standard scoring leagues. There aren't many backs in the league right now like Sproles, but hopefully having Jacquizz Rodgers in practice can help the Falcons get used to the speed that Sproles brings to them this week.
The Falcons have their hands full this week and slowing down Sproles would go a long ways in trying to take over the top spot in the NFC South division.
For more coverage on the Falcons visit The Falcoholic.
The Super Bowl hero's status for the Saints game against the Atlanta Falcons is still unknown.
The Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints are poised for a divisional showdown in Week 10 at the Georgia Dome.
The Saints' maestro will be limited to calling plays from the booth for two crucial games against Tampa Bay and Atlanta.
In the early 2000's, I can't quite recall this rivalry being all that exciting. However, over the past few seasons we've seen the hatred between these two teams rise up (see what I did there) into something much more intense, mostly stemming from the Saints' Superbowl victory of two seasons ago. Roddy White tweeted some stuff, Saints players danced on the Falcon logo, and everyone just got really pissed off. That does, however, make for great football.
Record: Finished 11-5 in 2010,
lost got embarrassed by the Seahawks in the Wild Card game
Last Meeting: Week 16, 2010 (Falcons lost 14-17)
Notable Additions: DT Aubrayo Franklin, C Olin Kreutz, DT Shaun Rogers, RB Darren Sproles RB Mark Ingram (draft pick), DE Cameron Jordan (draft pick)
Notable Losses: RB Reggie Bush, DT Remi Ayodele, DT Anthony Hargrove, DB Usama Young
By all accounts, the Saints seem to have had a pretty successful offseason on paper. They traded Bush, but signed Sproles to fill that role. They also drafted some running back out of Alabama, though I can't say I'm familiar with him. The most underrated signing this offseason, however, could be the D-tackle Franklin. Pairing him with Sedrick Ellis gives the Saints a very good run-stopping combo up front. The Falcons improved with Julio/Edwards, but the Saints kept pace.
If you recall, both matchups in 2010 were extremely contested, emotionally charged matchups that stayed close until the very end. Some Saints fans argue that they should have won the week three overtime loss, but I argue that if your kicker can't make a 27-yarder, you don't deserve to win. Just saying.
The most recent matchup tacked the Falcons with a very frustrating loss, to say the least. Despite the defense's ability to hem in Brees, the offense couldn't get it done. The Saints pretty much shut down Turner, who was playing injured down the stretch of another 300+ carry season. The offense just couldn't get it done.
In 2011, I think we can expect this game to have much more scoring involved. Both teams have great quarterbacks and a plethora of offensive weapons. What this game will come down to, however, are Atlanta's front seven. With Ingram, Sproles, and Pierre Thomas all on board, the Falcons can't simply play the pass all day. The linebackers have to shut down the run, or else they can expect to be eaten alive by the play-action pass.
While the Eagles and/or Packers game might be more intriguing, this first game versus the Saints will likely be the most important. The NFC South title and playoff implications will all be on the line. It's also about time for some revenge after this cute little stunt last year:
via blogs.ajc.com "Hey look, they're cocky just like their fans"
Anything less than a Saints rear-end whooping this year will be dissatisfying, and I'm sure the players feel the same way. Go Falcons!