As the Falcons' week 13 matchup against the Houston Texans gets underway, a few lineup changes to take note of going forward: both Michael Turner and Julio Jones are active for todays game, and both will start. However, on defense the Falcons will be without Stephen Nicholas (replaced by Mike Peterson) and Brent Grimes (replaced by Chris Owens).
Going in, most expected this game to be a low-scoring one dominated by defense. So far, that has absolutely been the case, despite the Falcons displaying some very aggressive play-calling right out the gate, something quite out-of-character for Mike Mularkey.
But Matt Ryan has looked off. After missing two wide open receivers on deep throws on the first offensive drive, the Falcons would go three-and-out. On the next possession, Ryan was picked off by Kareem Jackson on a flea-flicker play intended for Roddy White.
And they continued to sputter throughout the first quarter. Ryan would be intercepted for the second time- this one by Jason Allen- after Julio Jones ran the wrong route and left Allen waiting all alone for the pick. Though Ryan and the offense began to regroup towards the end of the quarter, the Texans defense has still been absolutely stifling.
As for the Texans, T.J. Yates has actually been effective moving the ball (somewhat). Early in the game, the Texans had driven all the way to the Falcons 15, but Vance Walker forced a "fumble" that stood after a Gary Kubiak challenge, negating any points Houston could have scored (on that same play, a would-be Falcons defensive TD was reversed as men came onto the field after the play was thought to be over).
But on their next drive, the Texans would put some points up. While no one player has been outstanding, Arian Foster, Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels have all contributed and help the young Yates settle down. With four minutes left in the quarter, a 43-yard field goal would break the scoreless tie and give Houston a 3-0 lead. Stay tuned.
For more on the Falcons, check out The Falcoholic; for more Texans, head over to Battle Red Blog.