Atlanta Falcons

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Posted by pompos 04/03/2009 @ 18:15

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News headlines
Atlanta Falcons 2009 Offseason Review - Bleacher Report
by Demondre' Wiley (Contributor) The Atlanta Falcons off-season had some downs but had more ups. The Dirty Birds made some hard but reasonable decisions to improve their team. From free agency to the draft the Falcons have done a lot to improve their...
Atlanta Falcons Need to Win NFC South For Playoff Spot - Bleacher Report
by Jason Butt (Contributor) Falcons fans: Before you get too excited about the great shot Atlanta has at winning the NFC South, take a cue from David Bowie. The NFC South is stacked, featuring four teams that could contend for the conference...
The Case for a Second Chance for Michael Vick - New York Times
If public relations were not an issue, several teams would take a chance on the 28-year-old Vick once the Atlanta Falcons release or trade him. But before any of that happens, the fallen star must negotiate a precarious obstacle course....
Sorry Folks But The Falcons' Offense Will Not Change - Bleacher Report
by Jach Shore (Scribe) People I am starting to get sick of all of this talk that the Falcons are changing there offense significantly. Sorry to burst your Ryan is the next Manning bubble, but this is how it is. The Atlanta Falcons are going to continue...
Bergeron gets second chance with Falcons - Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
So he knew when the Atlanta Falcons cut him before he could play a regular-season game in 2006 that he had the potential to find his way back. He just didn't know how long it would take. “I always thought I had a shot to get back there,” the former...
Playoff-hungry Gonzalez makes Falcons offense scary - CBSSports.com
As Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan talked Saturday about what the addition of tight end Tony Gonzalez would mean to the team, he brought up how important the veteran's work ethic would be in helping Atlanta's young players....
Falcons DT Peria Jerry suffers sprained right knee - Pro Football Weekly
By PFW staff Falcons rookie DE Peria Jerry suffered a sprained right knee on Saturday and sat out of Atlanta's second practice session. However, head coach Mike Smith called the sprain mild, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution....
Falcons release three players - Gainesville Times
The Atlanta Falcons released linebacker Derek Nicholson, cornerback Ronnie Prude and safety Marcus Paschal on Friday. Nicholson was signed by the Falcons as a rookie free agent this season and the Florida State graduate participated in Falcons mini...
The Houston Texans: Are They Ready For The Super Stardom In The NFL? - Bleacher Report
In 2008, the Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons, and the Baltimore Ravens went from the bottom of the league to having success that led them to the playoffs. The NFL is filled with the sleeper teams, who have decent success but are a piece or two away...
1998 Atlanta Falcons: Something More Than Super - Bleacher Report
by Ricky Dimon (Member) Heading into the 1998 NFL season, the Atlanta Falcons had not qualified for the postseason since 1995 and had not won a playoff game since the 1991 NFC divisional round. The franchise was not expected to do much in 1998, either,...

Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons helmet

The Atlanta Falcons are an American football team based in Atlanta, Georgia. They are currently a member of the NFC South division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The Falcons joined the NFL in 1965 as an expansion team. In their 42 years of existence, the Falcons have compiled a record of 262–386–6 with division championships in 1980, 1998 and 2004.

The Atlanta Falcons franchise began on June 30, 1965 when NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle granted ownership to Rankin Smith Sr. The expansion team was awarded the first pick in the 1966 NFL Draft as well as the final pick in each of the first five rounds. The Falcons drafted All-American Linebacker Tommy Nobis from the University of Texas with the first pick of the draft, making him the first-ever Falcon. The league also held the 1966 NFL Expansion Draft six weeks later in which the Falcons selected unprotected players from existing franchises..

The Falcons had their first season in 1966, and their first preseason game on August 1, 1966, losing to the Philadelphia Eagles. They lost their first nine regular-season games and secured their first victory on the road against the New York Giants. The team finished the 1960s with only 12 wins. The Falcons had their first Monday Night Football game in Atlanta during the 1970 season. The 1971 season was their first with a winning record.

In the 1978 season, the Falcons entered their first playoff series and won the Wild Card Playoffs against the Eagles only to lose to the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional Playoffs. In 1980, they finished 12–4 only to lose again to the Cowboys in the Divisional Playoffs. In the strike-shortened 1982 season, the Falcons made the playoffs but lost to the Minnesota Vikings, 30–24. Falcons coach Leeman Bennett was fired after the loss. After the 1982 season, the Atlanta Falcons did not see another playoff series until 1991, when they lost to the Washington Redskins in the Divisional Playoffs.

Led by QB Chris Chandler and RB Jamal Anderson, the "Dirty Bird" Falcons had their greatest season to date in 1998. On November 8, they won 41-10 over the New England Patriots, snapping a streak of 22 consecutive losses at cold-weather sites in November and December that had dated back to 1982. The team finished with a 14–2 regular season record and the NFC West division championship. On January 18, 1999, the Falcons upset the top-seeded 15–1 Vikings at Minnesota in the NFC Championship Game, 30–27 in overtime. They lost, 34–19, to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII.

In the 2001 NFL Draft, the Falcons orchestrated a trade with the San Diego Chargers, acquiring the first overall pick (which was used on quarterback Michael Vick) in exchange for wide receiver Tim Dwight and the fifth overall pick (used on running back LaDainian Tomlinson). Michael Vick became backup to starting QB Chris Chandler, and was the full-time starting quarterback by 2002. He lead them to the playoffs in 2002 only to lose to the Philadelphia Eagles once again in the Divisional Playoffs. During the 2003 preseason Michael Vick broke his leg and missed the first twelve games of the season. The Falcons ended up with a dismal 5–11 record that year.

Vick returned for the full season in 2004, when the Falcons went 11–5. They made it to the Conference Championship, once again losing to the Eagles. The Falcons failed yet again to maintain back-to-back winning seasons in 2005, going 8–8. The 2006, the Falcons had a chance to make the playoffs until the New York Giants beat the Washington Redskins, helping to seal their record at a losing 7–9. In 2007, Vick was suspended indefinitely by the NFL after pleading guilty to charges involved with dog fighting in the state of Virginia. On December 10, Vick received a 23 month sentence. In the beginning of the 2007 season, the Falcons were forced to put Joey Harrington as starting quarterback. On December 11, 13 games into his first NFL season as coach, Bobby Petrino resigned, then accepted an offer to take over as the head coach at the University of Arkansas. Secondary Coach Emmitt Thomas was named interim coach for the final three games of 2007 on December 12.

On January 13, 2008, Atlanta Falcons named the former Patriot's director of college football scouting Thomas Dimitroff General Manager. On January 23, 2008 Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coach and former linebackers coach for the 2000 Super Bowl winning Baltimore Ravens Mike Smith was named the Falcons' new head coach. On March 2, former back-up to Ladanian Tomlinson on the San Diego Chargers Michael Turner agreed to a 6 year deal worth 30 million. On April 26, Matt Ryan (Quarterback from Boston College) was drafted 3rd overall in the 2008 NFL Draft. He started all 16 games in his rookie season and was named the associated press offensive rookie of the year.

On December 21, 2008 Atlanta Falcons beat the Minnesota Vikings 24–17 to clinch a wild card spot to go to the playoffs for the first time since 2004. The Falcons finished the 2008 regular season with a record of 11–5.

And in the closing of the first year under head coach Mike Smith, the Falcons lost in the wild-card round of the 2008 NFL Playoffs to the eventual NFC champion Arizona Cardinals on January 3, 2009. The score was 30–24. In the game Offensive Rookie of the Year, Matt Ryan threw 26-40 for 199 yards with a pair of touchdowns and a pair of interceptions; and tallied a QB rating of 87.7 for 2008–2009 season.

When the team debuted in 1966, the Falcons wore red helmets with a black falcon crest logo. In the center of the helmet was a center black stripe surrounded by 2 gold stripes and 2 white stripes, These colors represented the two college rival schools in the state of Georgia; rival schools Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (White and Gold) and the Georgia Bulldogs (Red and Black) Although the gold was later taken out the White remains to this day. They wore white pants and either black or white jerseys. At first, the falcon crest logo was also put on the jersey sleeves, but it was replaced by a red and white stripe pattern four years later. They switched from black to red jerseys in 1971, and the club began to wear silver pants in 1978.

A prototype white helmet was developed for the team prior to the 1974 season, but never worn.

Both the logo and uniforms changed in 2003. The logo was redesigned with red and silver accents to depict a more powerful, aggressive falcon, which now more closely resembles the capital letter F. Although the Falcons still wore black helmets, the new uniforms featured jerseys and pants with red trim down the sides. The uniform design consisted of either black or white jerseys, and either black or white pants. During that same year, a red alternate jersey with black trim was also introduced. The Falcons also started wearing black cleats with these uniforms.

In 2004, the red jerseys became the primary jerseys, and the black ones became the alternate, primarily wearing white pants with the white jerseys and white pants with the red jerseys. The Falcons also in select road games wear black pants with white jerseys. In the past three seasons, the Falcons wore an all-black combination for home games against their archrivals, the New Orleans Saints, winning the first two contests (24–21 in 2004 and 36–17 in 2005), but losing 31–13 in 2006. They wore the combination again in 2006, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2. The Falcons won that game as well, 14–3.

In the 1980s, the Falcons wore their white uniforms at home most of the time due to the heat. When the Falcons started playing in the dome, the team switched to their dark uniforms. The Falcons have worn their white uniforms at home since switching to the dome. In 2000, the Falcons wore white against the Carolina Panthers and the New York Giants. In 2002, the Falcons wore white at home for a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. In 2003, the Falcons wore white for a game against the Minnesota Vikings.

In their history, the Atlanta Falcons have had 15 head coaches.

On December 25, 2008, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that a developer (The Sembler Company) is negotiating to buy the former General Motors Plant in Doraville and is wavering the idea of building a new retractable roof stadium for the Falcons. The Sembler Company has proposed using 90 acres for the new stadium, with the remaining 75 acres going to mixed-use development. Doraville mayor Ray Jenkins commented on the project saying "It's an excellent spot for anything". Falcons President Rich McKay said, "Sembler and a number of developers contacted us many months back when GM put the site up for sale...We have had many preliminary discussions with them". The Georgia Dome is now older than the majority of the current NFL Stadiums (21). Even though the team's lease of the Georgia Dome does not expire until 2020, Falcons owner Arthur Blank believes the bonds sold to build the Dome will be paid off sooner than that and possible as early as 2015. Blank also wants a new stadium so Atlanta can be awarded Super Bowls since the NFL usually awards them to new stadiums. The plant site, is adjacent to the Doraville MARTA station and I-285 and would be more convenient for suburban residents who outnumber downtown residents. McKay said, "The Site in Doraville" is a special location... so we felt like it was something that we had to at least look at". Although construction costs are projected to be approximately $1 billion (USD), these costs will likely be lower compared to other NFL Stadiums currently being built including New Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas (opening in September, 2009 and costing $1.3 billion USD) and Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford (scheduled to open in 2010 and costing $1.4 billion US) which will be again shared by the New York Giants and New York Jets. The Doraville City Council had a special meeting in January 2009 to further discuss the stadium proposal.

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Atlanta Falcons seasons

This is a list of seasons completed by the Atlanta Falcons American football franchise of the National Football League (NFL). The list documents the season-by-season records of the Falcons' franchise from 1966 to present, including postseason records, and league awards for individual players or head coaches.

1 Due to a strike-shortened season in 1982, all teams were ranked by conference instead of division.

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2007 Atlanta Falcons season

The 2007 Atlanta Falcons season was the 42nd season for the team in the National Football League. They finished the 2007 season with a disappointing record of 4-12 and failed to improve upon their 7-9 record in 2006 after finishing third place in the NFC South.

The team attempted to overcome the controversy surrounding starting quarterback Michael Vick and his involvement in an illegal dog fighting ring. Bobby Petrino was hired to help develop Vick into a more complete quarterback, but with Vick's absence, journeyman quarterbacks Joey Harrington and Byron Leftwich were used to patch-in holes. Petrino's game plan didn't fit, both on the field and in the locker room, with veteran players Alge Crumpler and DeAngelo Hall voicing their displeasure.

Petrino later resigned just 13 games into the season to coach the Arkansas Razorbacks. Petrino resigned the day after Michael Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison and also a day after Petrino coached the Falcons in a 41-14 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football.

Head coach Bobby Petrino spent less than a year with the Atlanta Falcons. He was hired on January 7, 2007 after the Falcons fired Jim Mora, Jr., who was fired on New Year's Day. On December 11, 2007, Petrino announced his resignation just 13 games into his first year.

On March 2, the Falcons released linebackers Edgerton Hartwell and Ike Reese. On March 5, the Falcons released guard Matt Lehr and long-snapper Gavin Tarquinio. On March 6, wide receiver Ashley Lelie signed a contract with the San Francisco 49ers. On March 7, defensive end Patrick Kerney signed a contract with the Seattle Seahawks. On March 9, fullback Justin Griffith signed a contract with the Oakland Raiders.

On March 2, the Falcons signed fullback Ovie Mughelli, formerly with the Baltimore Ravens, to a contract. On March 3, the Falcons signed linebacker Marcus Wilkins, formerly with the Cincinnati Bengals, to a contract. On March 7, the Falcons signed cornerback Lewis Sanders, formerly with the Houston Texans, to a contract. On March 8, the Falcons signed wide receiver Joe Horn, formerly with the New Orleans Saints, to a contract. On March 15, the Falcons signed guard Toniu Fonoti, formerly with the Miami Dolphins, to a contract. On March 15, the Falcons signed wide receiver Derrick Hamilton, formerly with the San Francisco 49ers, to a contract. On March 22, the Falcons signed kicker Aaron Elling, formerly with the Baltimore Ravens, to a contract. On March 23, the Falcons signed quarterback Chris Redman to a contract. On April 9, the Falcons signed quarterback Joey Harrington, formerly with the Miami Dolphins, to a contract. On May 4, the Falcons signed kicker Billy Cundiff to a contract. On May 9, the Falcons signed tackle Leander Jordan, formerly with the San Diego Chargers, to a contract.

The Atlanta Falcons will enter the 2007 season using the same uniform combinations as they used in 2006.

Hoping to put a troublesome offseason behind them, the Falcons began their 2007 campaign on the road against the Minnesota Vikings. In the first quarter, Atlanta immediately trailed as Vikings DT Kevin Williams returned an interception 54 yards for a touchdown, which would be the only score of the half. In the third quarter, Minnesota increased its lead with kicker Ryan Longwell getting a 49-yard field goal. In the fourth quarter, the Falcons got their only score of the game, with kicker Matt Prater getting a 45-yard field goal. From there, the Vikings put the game away with QB Tarvaris Jackson completing a 60-yard TD pass to RB Adrian Peterson, along with CB Antoine Winfield returning an interception 14-yards for a touchdown.

QB Joey Harrington, in his Falcons debut, completed 23 out of 32 passes for 199 yards with no touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

With the loss, Atlanta began its season at 0-1.

Trying to rebound from their road loss to the Vikings, the Falcons went to Jacksonville Municipal Stadium for a Week 2 interconference fight with the Jacksonville Jaguars. After a scoreless first quarter, Atlanta trailed early as Jaguars kicker John Carney got a 35-yard field goal. Afterwards, the Falcons would get their only score of the game as RB Warrick Dunn got a 4-yard TD run. After a scoreless third quarter, Jacksonville would seal the win with QB David Garrard's 14-yard TD pass to WR Reggie Williams and Carney's 27-yard field goal.

With the loss, the Falcons would fall to 0-2.

Trying to avoid their first 0-3 start since 1999, the Falcons played their Week 3 homeopener against their divisional rival, the Carolina Panthers. After a scoreless first quarter, Atlanta trailed early as Panthers kicker John Kasay got a 45-yard field goal. Afterwards, the Falcons took the lead with QB Joey Harrington completing a 69-yard TD pass to WR Roddy White. However, Carolina retook the lead with QB Jake Delhomme completing a 13-yard TD pass to RB DeShaun Foster. Atlanta would tie the game prior to halftime with kicker Morten Andersen getting a 24-yard field goal.

In the third quarter, the Falcons regained the lead with Harrington completing a 13-yard TD pass to TE Alge Crumpler, yet the Panthers regained the lead with Delhomme completing a 5-yard TD pass to TE Jeff King, along with Foster's 10-yard TD run. In the fourth quarter, Carolina ended its scoring with Kasay kicking a 49-yard field goal. Atlanta tried to mount a comeback, yet the only score was Andersen's 25-yard field goal.

With the loss, the Falcons fell to 0-3.

Still searching for their first win of the year, the Falcons stayed at home for an interconference duel with the Houston Texans, featuring a former teammate in QB Matt Schaub. In the first quarter, Atlanta delivered the first punch with kicker Morten Andersen getting a 28-yard field goal. However, the Texans took the lead with Schaub completing a 35-yard TD pass to WR André Davis. Fortunately, the Falcons would regain the lead with QB Joey Harrington completing a 5-yard TD pass to WR Michael Jenkins. In the second quarter, Harrington and Jenkins would hook up with each other again on a 7-yard TD pass. Also, Andersen contributed to Atlanta's cause by kicking a 22-yard field goal. Houston would end the half with kicker Kris Brown getting a 42-yard field goal.

In the third quarter, the Texans drew close with Brown kicking a 37-yard field goal. Fortunately, the Falcons responded with Andersen getting a 36-yard field goal. In the fourth quarter, Houston tried to retaliate with Brown kicking a 19-yard field goal. Again, Atlanta answered with Andersen nailing a 46-yard field goal. Afterwards, the Falcons managed to hold on to give head coach Bobby Petrino his first NFL victory.

With the win, the Falcons snap a six-game losing skid and improve to 1-3.

Coming off their home win over the Texans, the Falcons flew to LP Field for a Week 5 interconference duel with the Tennessee Titans. In the first quarter, Atlanta got off to a fast start as CB DeAngelo Hall returned a LenDale White fumble 56 yards for a touchdown. The Titans would tie the game with RB Chris Brown getting a 3-yard TD run. In the second quarter, the Falcons flew back into the lead with kicker Morten Andersen getting a 32-yard field goal. Tennessee would end the half with kicker Rob Bironas getting a 30-yard field goal.

In the third quarter, Atlanta got their lead back with Andersen kicking a 28-yard field goal. However, the Titans took the lead with Bironas nailing a 40-yard field goal, along with DB ] intercepting QB Joey Harrington and returning it 76 yards for a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, with Harrington being ineffective (16/31 for 87 yards and 1 interception), back-up QB Byron Leftwich came to try and lead the Falcons to victory. Near the end of the game, Atlanta came close (at Tennessee's 1-yard line). Unfortunately, on four-straight plays, they were held out of the end zone.

With the loss, not only did the Falcons fall to 1-4, but it also marked their 5th staight loss to the Titans.

Hoping to rebound from their road loss to the Titans, the Falcons came home for Monday Night Football has they hosted the New York Giants. In the first quarter, Atlanta took flight early as kicker Morten Andersen got a 47-yard field goal. However, the Giants responded with QB Eli Manning completing a 5-yard TD pass to WR Amani Toomer. The Falcons answered with RB Jerious Norwood getting a 67-yard TD run. Afterwards, New York replied with RB Reuben Droughns getting a 1-yard TD run. In the second quarter, Atlanta's struggles continued as Manning completed a 43-yard TD pass to WR Plaxico Burress to increase the Giants' lead. After a scoreless third quarter, New York sealed the win with kicker Lawrence Tynes nailing a 32-yard field goal, while RB Derrick Ward got a 9-yard TD run.

With their second-straight loss, the Falcons fell to 1-5.

Trying to snap a two-game skid, the Falcons flew to the Louisiana Superdome for a Week 7 divisional duel with the New Orleans Saints. Due to QB Joey Harrington's ineffectiveness from last week's loss to the Giants, QB Byron Leftwich was given the start.

In the first quarter, Atlanta trailed early as Saints QB Drew Brees completed a 37-yard TD pass to WR Devery Henderson. The Falcons would respond with former Saints kicker Morten Andersen 38-yard field goal. In the second quarter, Atlanta began to play well as Andersen got a 33-yard field goal, while Leftwich completed a 9-yard TD pass to WR Roddy White.

In the third quarter, New Orleans retook the lead with RB Pierre Thomas getting a 24-yard TD run. Even worse, on the Falcons next possession, Leftwich's left leg got injured during a sack by Saints DE Will Smith. Harrington would take over for the rest of the game. In the fourth quarter, Andersen gave Atlanta a 21-yard field goal. Unfortunately, the Saints sealed the win with Brees hooking up with RB Reggie Bush on a 4-yard TD pass, along with Bush getting a 2-point conversion run.

With their third-straight loss, the Falcons entered their bye week at 1-6.

Trying to snap a three-game skid, the Falcons went home and played a Week 9 interconference duel with the San Francisco 49ers. In the first quarter, Atlanta trailed early as 49ers RB Maurice Hicks managed to get a 9-yard TD run. Fortunately, the Falcons responded with RB Warrick Dunn getting a 9-yard TD run. In the second quarter, Atlanta increased its lead with RB Ovie Mughelli getting a 1-yard TD run for the only score of the period.

In the third quarter, San Francisco crept close as kicker Joe Nedney got a 49-yard and a 32-yard field goal. Fortunately, in the fourth quarter, the Falcons answered with kicker Morten Andersen getting a 33-yard field goal. The 49ers would respond with Nedney kicking a 22-yard field goal, yet Atlanta managed to get the win with Andersen nailing a 27-yard field goal.

With the win, the Falcons improved to 2-6.

The struggling Falcons rushing attack had its best performance (to date) with 155 total rushing yards.

Coming off their home win over the 49ers, the Falcons flew to Bank of America Stadium for an NFC South rematch with the Carolina Panthers. In the first quarter, Atlanta took flight as RB Warrick Dunn got a 30-yard TD run for the only score of the period. In the second quarter, the Panthers took the lead as CB Ken Lucas returned a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown, while kicker John Kasay managed to get a 29-yard field goal.

In the third quarter, the Falcons tied the game with kicker Morten Andersen getting a 36-yard field goal for the only score of the period. In the fourth quarter, Atlanta took the lead with Andersen kicking a 47-yard field goal. Carolina tied the game with Kasay nailing a 31-yard field goal. Fortunately, the Falcons got the win with QB Joey Harrington completing a 30-yard TD pass to TE Alge Crumpler.

With the win, Atlanta improved to 3-6.

Coming off their divisional road win over the Panthers, the Falcons went home a Week 11 divisional duel with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite QB Joey Harrington giving Atlanta two-straight wins, QB Byron Leftwich was given the start.

In the first quarter, the Falcons trailed early as Buccaneers QB Jeff Garcia completed a 44-yard TD pass to WR Joey Galloway for the only score of the period. In the second quarter, Atlanta continued to trail as Tampa Bay CB Ronde Barber returned a fumble 41 yards for a touchdown. In the third quarter, the Buccaneers continued their beatdown with kicker Matt Bryant nailing a 23-yard field goal, while Garcia completed a 21-yard TD pass to TE Alex Smith. In the fourth quarter, Tampa Bay sealed the win with RB Earnest Graham getting a 26-yard TD run. The Falcons would avoid the shutout as Harrington came onto the field as completed a 7-yard TD pass to WR Adam Jennings.

With the loss, Atlanta fell to 3-7.

Hoping to rebound from their divisional loss to the Buccaneers, the Falcons stayed at home and played a Week 12 Thanksgiving interconference duel with the defending Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts. In the first quarter, Atlanta took flight early as they ended a 19-play, 63-yard drive with kicker Morten Andersen getting a 34-yard field goal. Later, the Falcons increased their lead with QB Joey Harrington completing a 48-yard TD pass to WR Roddy White. In the second quarter, the Colts got on the board with QB Peyton Manning completing a 23-yard TD pass to WR Reggie Wayne. Altanta would respond with Andersen kicking a 30-yard field goal, but Indianapolis started to gain steam as Manning found TE Dallas Clark on an 8-yard TD pass and TE Ben Utecht on a 5-yard TD pass.

In the third quarter, the Colts managed to put the away as RB Joseph Addai got a 4-yard TD run, while kicker Adam Vinatieri nailed a 24-yard field goal.

With the loss, the Falcons fell to 3-8.

Despite the loss, RB Warrick Dunn (17 carries for 70 yards) became the 22nd player in NFL history to get 10,000 career rushing yards. He even became the third RB under 5 feet, 9 inches to reach 10,000 yards rushing.

Trying to snap a two-game losing skid, the Falcons flew to the Edward Jones Dome for a Week 13 intraconference duel with the St. Louis Rams. In the first quarter, Atlanta trailed early as Rams QB Gus Frerotte completed a 1-yard TD pass to TE Randy McMichael, along with a 31-yard TD pass to WR Torry Holt. In the second quarter, St. Louis increased its lead with Frerotte completing an 8-yard TD pass to WR Isaac Bruce for the only score of the period.

In the third quarter, the Falcons would finally manage to get on the board as kicker Morten Andersen kicked a 41-yard field goal for the only score of the period. In the fourth quarter, Atlanta tried to comeback as QB Chris Redman completed a 15-yard TD pass to WR Roddy White, along with a 5-yard TD pass to WR Michael Jenkins. However, the Rams sealed the win with RB Steven Jackson scoring on a 50-yard TD run.

With their third-straight loss, the Falcons fell to 3-9.

Trying to snap a three-game slide, the Falcons went home for a Week 14 Monday Night NFC South rematch with the New Orleans Saints. Making his first start at QB since 2002 was Chris Redman.

In the first quarter, Atlanta trailed early as Saints QB Drew Brees completed a 25-yard TD pass to WR David Patten. The Falcons would answer with Redman completing a 33-yard TD pass to WR Roddy White. In the second quarter, New Orleans began to pull away as kicker Olindo Mare managed to get a 23-yard field goal, while Brees completed a 15-yard TD pass to WR Marques Colston.

In the third quarter, the Saints pulled away as Brees and Colston hooked up with each other again on a 2-yard TD pass, while Safety Roman Harper returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Atlanta would managed to get one last touchdown and Redman completed a 13-yard TD pass to WR Michael Jenkins. New Orleans would seal the win with Mare nailing a 36-yard field goal.

With their fourth-straight loss, the Falcons fell to 3-10.

Following the game, it was announced that Head Coach Bobby Petrino had resigned from the Falcons. Afterwards, on Wednesday, December 12, it was announced that Defensive Backs coach Emmitt Thomas would be Atlanta's interim head coach for the rest of the season.

Trying to snap a four-game skid, the Falcons flew to Raymond James Stadium for a Week 15 NFC South rematch with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In the first quarter, Atlanta trailed early as Buccaneers CB Ronde Barber returned an interception 29 yards for a touchdown. The Falcons woud respond with kicker Morten Andersen getting a 33-yard field goal for their only score of the game. However, Tampa Bay immediately responded with WR Micheal Spurlock returning a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown (the Buccaneers' first kickoff return for a touchdown in franchise history). In the second quarter, the Falcons' year-long struggles continued as kicker Matt Bryant getting a 33-yard field goal, RB Earnest Graham getting a 1-yard TD run, and Bryant kicking a 28-yard field goal.

In the third quarter, Atlanta's turmoil continued with Bryant nailing a 34-yard field goal for the only score of the period. In the fourth quarter, Tampa Bay sealed the win with QB Jeff Garcia completing a 1-yard TD pass to TE Anthony Becht.

With their fifth-straight loss, the Falcons fell to 3-11.

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2008 Atlanta Falcons season

NFCS-Uniform-ATL.PNG

The 2008 Atlanta Falcons season was the 43rd season for the team in the National Football League. Overcoming a dismal 4-12 season in 2007 as well as low expectations in the preseason, the Falcons completed the regular season with a surprising 11-5 record and earned the #5 seed in the NFC Playoffs under first-year head coach Mike Smith, but fell to the Arizona Cardinals in the wild-card round of the playoffs.

Mike Smith was named 2008 NFL Coach of the Year, and quarterback Matt Ryan earned the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.

In February 22 , prior the start of the NFL Combine, the Falcons won a coin toss that give them the 3rd overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft in a gathering with the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs to break a three-way-tie. Each team finished 2007 with a 4-12 record. Some experts said that the Falcons maybe use his selection to pick LSU Defensive Tackle Glenn Dorsey, but Falcons used his 1st round pick to draft Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan, also the Falcons traded two of their second-round picks (No. 34 and No. 48) and a fourth round pick (No. 103) with Washington Redskins to move to No. 21 overall and select USC tackle Sam Baker.

The Falcons opened the first mini camp of 2008 Monday, April 14. The team have multiple "mini camp" sessions under new Head Coach Mike Smith before the start of training camp in late July. The team worked for three days before the NFL Draft and came back to Flowery Branch for another workout May 10 -12. . During the minicamp , falcons sign tender offers to punter Michael Koenen and defensive end Chauncey Davis.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Falcons will hold Russell Falcons Training Camp at the team’s Flowery Branch headquarters. Atlanta’s 43rd training camp will be held from July 25-August 15, with select morning and afternoon practices open to the public The Falcons will hold 30 practices, which include 13 two-a-day sessions. Atlanta travel to Jacksonville on August 9 for its first preseason contest followed by two home preseason games against Indianapolis the day after training camp breaks (August 16) and Tennessee Titans in August 22 . The Falcons conclude the 2008 preseason schedule with a meeting against the Baltimore Ravens on August 28 at M&T Bank Stadium . In 2007, Russell Athletic and the Atlanta Falcons announced an agreement that includes title sponsorship of the team’s three-week preseason training camp at its in-season training facility in Flowery Branch, Ga. The four-year agreement designates Russell Athletic as an official sponsor of the Falcons.

Falcons' Assistant Head Coach Emmitt Thomas was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Famein February 2 during Super Bowl festivities in Phoenix. He was formally inducted into the Hall on August 2. Thomas was selected as a finalist for enshrinement by the Seniors Committee. He was selected to the Hall's Class of 2008 off a list of 17 players. He thus becomes the first Falcons player or coach to be placed in the Hall of Fame.

On August 30, the Falcons made 22 roster moves to reach the NFL's 53-player limit.

The Falcons began their 2008 campaign at home against the Detroit Lions. In the first quarter, Atlanta immediately took flight at rookie QB Matt Ryan throws his first career NFL pass to WR Michael Jenkins for a 62-yard TD pass. Afterwards, RB Michael Turner (acquired from the Chargers) made an immediate impact as he got a 66-yard TD run and a 5-yard TD run. In the second quarter, the Lions would respond with RB Kevin Smith getting a 5-yard TD run, while QB Jon Kitna completed a 21-yard TD pass to WR Roy Williams. In the third quarter, the Falcons went back to work as kicker Jason Elam got a 50-yard field goal, while RB Jerious Norwood got a 10-yard TD run. Detroit would try to rally as Kitna completed a 1-yard TD pass to TE Casey FitzSimmons. Fortunately, Atlanta closed out their rout in the fourth quarter with Elam nailing a 25-yard field goal.

With the impressive win, the Falcons began their season at 1-0.

QB Matt Ryan would have a good rookie debut completing 9 of 13 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown. RB Michael Turner had an outstanding Falcon debut, setting a single-game franchise record with 220 rushing yards. Ryan, who became the first rookie to start a season for the Falcons since Steve Bartkowski in 1975, finished with a solid 161 passing yards and 137.0 quarterback rating. Turner led a ground game that picked up a franchise-record 318 rushing yards 7.6 yards per carry. Game Notes.

Following their outstanding home win over the Lions, the Falcons flew to Raymond James Stadium for a Week 2 NFC South duel with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In the first quarter, Atlanta trailed as Bucs QB Brian Griese completed a 5-yard TD pass to TE John Gilmore. In the second quarter, the Falcons continued to trail as former Falcons RB Warrick Dunn gave Tampa Bay a 17-yard TD run, along with kicker Matt Bryant getting a 33-yard field goal. Atlanta would close out the half with kicker Jason Elam getting a 32-yard field goal. In the third quarter, the Falcons crept closer as Elam kicked a 27-yard field goal. In the fourth quarter, Atlanta tried to rally as Elam nailed a 24-yard field goal. However, the Buccaneers pulled away as RB Earnest Graham got a 68-yard TD run. With the loss, the Falcons fell to 1-1. With Michael Turner running for a franchise-record 220 yards in his Falcons debut, Ryan only threw the ball 13 times against Detroit. Sunday, he had more attempts than that in the first half alone. The Bucs limited Turner to 42 yards on 14 carries. WR Joey Galloway, who did not play in the preseason because of a sore groin, sprained an ankle in the fourth quarter. Falcons rookie LT Sam Baker was hit in the head in the first half and did not return. A week after beating Detroit in his pro debut, Matt Ryan threw incompletions on his first nine passes before settling down to keep Atlanta in the game with three field goal drives that trimmed a 17-point deficit to eight with five minutes to go.

Michael Turner ran for three touchdowns and the Atlanta Falcons scored the first 24 points to beat Kansas City 38-14, giving the Chiefs their 12th straight loss.

Turner had scoring runs of 4, 1 and 2 yards, his first career game with three rushing touchdowns, while leading the Falcons with 104 yards rushing. Jerious Norwood added 75 yards rushing. Turner dragged Chiefs linebacker Pat Thomas for a few steps before breaking free and running through other defenders for a 38-yard run from the Falcons 8. A 30-yard pass from Ryan to Norwood helped set up Turner first touchdown run. Turner 1-yard scoring run in the second quarter gave Atlanta a 24-0 lead. Turner determined run helped to soften the Kansas City defense. Ryan found Roddy White for a 70-yard touchdown pass on Atlanta's next possession, and the Falcons were on their way to a big early lead , ( Ryan 70-yard touchdown pass to White is the longest pass completion for the Falcons since 12/23/07 when wide receiver Laurent Robinson caught a 74-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Chris Redman against the Arizona Cardinals in a Week 16 meeting) .

On Kansas City first offensive possession of the game, defensive end John Abraham logged his fifth sack of the season, which led to a Chiefs punt. Abraham tallied his second sack of the game at the end of the third quarter, which included a forced fumble. The two sacks gave Abraham eight in his last four games, 16 in his last 18 games and 73.5 for his career. Entering the Kansas City game, he led the NFL with four sacks after three games, the forced fumble was the 29th of his career, which ranks fourth in the NFL from 2000-2008. Turner sparked an Atlanta scoring drive when he posted a 38-yard rush in the first quarter , he capped the drive with a four-yard touchdown, his third of the season. The Falcons drove 92 yards in six plays and also received help from running back Jerious Norwood on the drive who contributed with 45 combined yards (two rushes for 15 yards and one 30-yard reception). Atlanta 92-yard scoring drive, the first of the game, is the longest scoring drive since 12/3/06 at Washington when the Falcons drove 98 yards on six plays capped by a Norwood touchdown run. Kicker Jason Elam was successful on his long field goal attempt of 27 yards against Kansas City, improving his streak of consecutive field goals to 27. Elam also added five extra points for an eight-point day.

Tyler Thigpen , the third starting quarterback in three weeks for Kansas City , threw three interceptions in his first career start. The third interception, by cornerback Chris Houston, was returned 10 yards for a touchdown with 1:01 left in the game.

Chiefs coach Herman Edwards said during the week he would turn to veteran Damon Huard if Thigpen struggled. Thigpen played the full game and was 14-for-36 passing for 128 yards with one touchdown. Down 24-0, Thigpen led a 13-play scoring drive capped by his 15-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Bowe with three seconds left in the first half.

The Chiefs' 12th straight loss came on the 11-month anniversary of their last win. They lost their last nine games in 2007 after a 12-10 win at Oakland on Oct. 21, 2007. The Chiefs comeback continued when Larry Johnson's 48-yard run set up his 1-yard scoring plunge to open the second half, cutting Atlanta lead to 24-14. It was Johnson first rushing touchdown of the season.Johnson, who had 96 yards rushing in his first two games, had 24 carries for 121 yards and a touchdown. Johnson has 4,981 yards rushing for his career to pass Christian Okoye (4,897) for second place on the Chiefs all-time list.

The Falcons had a quick answer to Johnson touchdown. Ryan, making his third start, had a 15-yard run and a 17-yard pass to White to set up Turner third touchdown, a 2-yard run. The Chiefs were forced to punt on their first five possessions. Their next two drives ended with interceptions by Erik Coleman and Brent Grimes, Coleman intercepted his first career pass in a Falcons uniform, which also gave him the eighth of his career, it was Coleman first interception since 11/12/06 against the New England Patriots . Coleman pieced together a stellar performance against the Chiefs which included 10 tackles to lead the team and one forced fumble, and Grimes intercepted his first career pass when he stepped in front of a Tyler Thigpen pass in the second quarter. Grimes returned the interception 25 yards, which led to a Falcons touchdown. The Falcons defense allowed only 14 rushing yards in the first quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs, continuing their trend of holding opponents to under 15 rushing yards over the first three contests of the season. Against Tampa Bay in Week 2, Atlanta held the Bucs to two rushing yards in the opening 15 minutes of play, which was the lowest total in the first quarter of a game since for a Falcons opponent since 12/14/03 (vs. Colts, two rushing yards). Below is a look at Atlanta opponent rushing totals in the first quarter of each game this season.

The Falcons moved to 2-0 at the Georgia Dome on the season and gave Head Coach Mike Smith his second career win as a head coach.

Michael Turner became only the fifth Falcons running back in team history to register three or more touchdowns in a game, with the win over the Chiefs improved its record to 5-1 in its last six meetings against AFC West opponents.

In the third quarter, the Panthers increased their lead with kicker John Kasay nailing a 44-yard field goal. In the fourth quarter, Carolina sealed the win with Delhomme completing a 36-yard TD pass to WR Muhsin Muhammad. The first-year head coach Mike Smith made a concise list in explaining the problems that plagued his offense in Charlotte.

With the loss, the Falcons fell to 2-2.

Hoping to rebound from their divisional road loss to the Panthers, to Falcons flew to Lambeau Field for a Week 5 duel with the Green Bay Packers . Entering Week 5, the Falcons led the league in first quarter scoring with 38 points. Atlanta added to that total with 10 points on a touchdown and field goal. The Falcons have also outscored their opponents in the first quarter by a 48-14 margin. Michael Turner posted his third 100-yard game of the season after finishing with 26 carries for 121 yards and one touchdown. Turner score came at the 3:35 mark in the fourth quarter to give Atlanta a two-possession lead (27-17) which sealed the victory. In the first quarter, Atlanta took flight as rookie QB Matt Ryan completed a 1-yard TD pass to TE Justin Peelle, along with kicker Jason Elam getting a 42-yard field goal. In the second quarter, the Packers responded with QB Aaron Rodgers completing a 44-yard TD pass to WR Donald Driver. The Falcons closed out the half with Ryan completing a 22-yard TD pass to WR Roddy Whiteto give the Falcons a 17-7 advantage. The catch was his sixth of the day giving White 115 yards in the first half at that point.White contributed with 67 first quarter receiving yards, falling three yards short of his career-high in the first 15 minutes of play (70), which he set on September 21, 2008 against Kansas City. White also finished the first half with 132 yards, which is the most in two quarters of play for the four-year veteran in his career and the second highest total since Terance Mathis posted 136 on November 19, 1995. On Atlanta first play of the game, Quarterback Matt Ryan completed a 37-yard pass to White crossing into Packers territory. Ryan completed two more receptions to White on the drive for a total of 64 yards ,the three completions led to an Atlanta touchdown, which marked the second occasion this season the Falcons scored on their first drive of the game (Week 1 vs. Detroit) and the first time they scored on their first possession of the game on the road, Ryan started the game having completed six of six passes for 72 yards and one touchdown pass, also compiled the best half of football in his rookie career thus far when he completed 13 of 18 passes for 154 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 135.0 passer rating. Ryan finished the game with a season-high 194 passing yards. The Falcons posted a touchdown on their first offensive possession of the game when Ryan led the team 81 yards on 10 plays and completed a one-yard touchdown strike to tight end Justin Peelle, his first as an Atlanta Falcon and the eighth of his career. Center Ben Wilkerson saw his first action of the season at the center position when he briefly replaced Todd McClure on Atlanta first offensive drive of the game. Wilkerson was at center when the Falcons scored their first touchdown in the first quarter. Defensive tackle Grady Jackson logged his first sack of the season and the 34.5th of his career when he dropped Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Green Bay first offensive play of the game , the sack led to a Green Bay punt. Following the first quarter of play the Falcons recorded eight first downs opposed to the Packers who finished the opening 15 minutes of play with zero. Atlanta also racked-up 147 net yards to Green Bay’s 10 in the quarter.

At the 6:02 mark in the second quarter, Ryan tallied his second touchdown pass of the day when he found White in the end zone for a 22-yard strike to give the Falcons a 17-7 advantage. The catch was his sixth of the day giving White 115 yards in the first half at that point. White pieced together his second 100-yard receiving game of the season and the ninth of his career after catching eight passes for 132 yards and one touchdown. Following the two-minute mark in the second quarter, defensive end John Abraham notched his seventh sack of the season, dropping Rodgers. The sack is the ninth in his last six games, the 17th in his last 20 contests and the 74.5th of his career. The sack forced a Packers field goal attempt and following an offensive holding call on a converted attempt, Green Bay missed a re-kick.

In the third quarter, Green Bay answered with kicker Mason Crosby getting a 50-yard field goal. In the fourth quarter, the Packers tied the game with Rodgers completing a 25-yard TD pass to WR Greg Jennings, Michael Boley intercepted his first pass of the season and the fifth of his career when he stepped in from of an Aaron Rodgers pass late in the fourth quarter. The INT led to the game-sealing touchdown by Turner, yet Atlanta replied with Elam nailing a 41-yard field goal and RB Michael Turner getting a 2-yard TD run. Fullback Ovie Mughelli carried the ball nine yards on his first rush of the season in the fourth quarter. Following a Packers touchdown to tie the game at 17, running back/kick returner Jerious Norwood returned the ensuing kickoff 54 yards into Green Bay territory, marking the second-longest kickoff return of his career, Norwood return set up a Falcons game-sealing touchdown. Green Bay tried to rally as Rodgers completed a 4-yard TD pass to TE Donald Lee, yet the Falcons' defense stiffened for the win.

With the win, Atlanta improved to 3-2.

Coming off their road win over the Packers, the Falcons went home for a Week 6 duel with the Chicago Bears. In the first quarter, Atlanta took flight as kicker Jason Elam got a 29-yard and a 48-yard field goal. In the second quarter, the Falcons increased their lead as Elam kicked a 32-yard field goal. The Bears would respond with kicker Robbie Gould getting a 36-yard field goal. Entering Sunday game with the Bears, the Falcons led the NFL in first quarter scoring with 48 points. After posting two field goals for a 6-0 lead following the first 15 minutes of play against Chicago, Atlanta has now outscored its opponent in the first quarter by a 54-14 margin.

A chance at a touchdown came with 9:16 remaining in the first half after a curious turn of events near the goal line. A third-down run by Jerious Norwood came up short and ended with a fumble. Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris recovered but lost the ball before he was touched down. Jason Snelling recovered the ball for the Falcons, who got a fresh set of downs. Following the first half of play, the Falcons defense held the Bears to 20 first half rushing yards. The 20 yards are the fewest given up in the first half of a game by Atlanta’s defense since October 1, 2006 against Arizona (two yards).

In the third quarter, the Falcons continued to add on to their lead as Elam got a 41-yard field goal, yet Chicago answered with RB Matt Forté getting a 3-yard TD run. In the fourth quarter, Atlanta replied with rookie QB Matt Ryan completing a 3-yard TD pass to WR Roddy White. Defensive end Jamaal Anderson paced a defense that fed off the crowd's energy. He finished with four tackles (two for loss) and the first sack of his two-year career. Anderson also had two pass deflections on the Bears' first drive of the second quarter. The Falcons offense started the second half with a no-huddle offense and added another Elam field goal to take a 12-3 lead. Chicago stuck with the running game and added a touchdown from Forte with 2:24 remaining in the third quarter. Chicago drove within inches of the end zone, but Matt Forte was stuffed on fourth down as he attempted to leap across the line. Michael Boley came in low to trip up the runner, then Lawyer Milloy and Keith Brooking finished him off. The Bears took the lead with Gould getting a 32-yard field goal, along with QB Kyle Orton completing a 17-yard TD pass to WR Rashied Davis. Fortunately, the Falcons got the last laugh as Elam nailed the game-winning 48-yard field goal.The 16-year veteran's celebration was interrupted by a swarm of teammates near midfield. It was his fifth successful kick of the day but just moments before he missed a kick that could have iced the game. Chicago came off the miscue with a 77-yard touchdown drive to take a 20-19 lead with 11 seconds to play. But a 9-yard return off a short kickoff by Harry Douglas and a 26-yard strike from rookie quarterback Matt Ryan to Michael Jenkins set Elam up for the game-winner with 1 second left.

With the win, Atlanta entered their bye week at 4-2.

Not only did Matt Ryan (22/30 for 301 yards and a touchdown) pick up his first-ever 300-yard day, but he acquired the best record for a rookie quarterback in his first six games as a starter since 1998 (4-2), besting Kyle Orton in '05 and Kyle Boller in '03 (both with 3-3).

Coming off their bye week, the Falcons flew to Lincoln Financial Field for a Week 8 duel with the Philadelphia Eagles, as rookie QB Matt Ryan (a native of the Philly suburb of Exton, Pennsylvania) took on his hometown team. Ryan threw for 277 yards in his seventh career start but also had a pair of interceptions. The defense held the Eagles after the first turnover but Ryan's second mistake came in the end zone, eliminating a red-zone scoring chance.

After a scoreless first quarter, Atlanta finally took flight in the second quarter as Ryan completed a 55-yard TD pass to WR Roddy White with 8:56 remaining in the first half when he threaded a pass between two Eagles defenders . White scampered toward the end zone for a 55-yard score and a 7-0 lead.“We had worked on that fade pass all week in practice and Matt threw it up there and really I should have batted the ball down," said White, who had 113 receiving yards. "I think on that play, I had the responsibility to help him out. We thought we were going to put some points on the board and we let it get away from us. I put that play on myself, because I really should have knocked that down.” White tallied his third consecutive 100-yard game after catching eight passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns. White has now posted four 100-yard games this season and 11 for his career, the 55-yard strike is the third longest pass for the rookie quarterback this season. The second score came on an eight-yard pass in the fourth quarter, Ryan returned to the sight of first collegiate touchdown pass at Lincoln Financial Field against the Temple Owls on November 20 , 2004 .

But Philadelphia responded with 20 unanswered points, including scoring drives of 60, 70 and 69 yards. Twice McNabb scrambled for key first downs. The Falcons did not record a sack in the second half. The Falcons run game sputtered and suffered from untimely penalties. Starting left tackle Sam Baker missed the game with a hip injury and was replaced by Todd Weiner. Weiner would leave with an injury and was replaced by Quinn Ojinnaka. Michael Turner rushed for 58 yards on 17 carries. The Eagles took the lead with QB Donovan McNabb getting a 3-yard TD run, along with kicker David Akers getting a 36-yard field goal. McNabb turned from prolific passer to game-manager as the afternoon progressed, finding openings in the Falcons zone defense for short to medium gains and handing the ball off to Westbrook , the All-Pro rushed for 63 yards on 10 carries in the first half and finished with 22 carries for 167 yards. He also had six catches for 42 yards, one of six Eagles receivers with two or more catches. The Falcons spent much of the first half keeping McNabb and the Eagles high-flying offense on the ground. Atlanta didn't allow a first-quarter point for the fifth time this season and picked up two sacks, a forced fumble and a turnover in the first 30 minutes In the third quarter, the Falcons continued to trail as RB Brian Westbrook got a 16-yard TD run. In the fourth quarter, Philadelphia increased its lead with Akers nailing an 18-yard field goal.Brian Finneran tied his season-high in receptions (three) and contributed with two catches on third down to convert a new set a downs for the Falcons on both occasions in the first halfJerious Norwood posted his second-highest receiving total when he caught five passes for 55 yards, he set his career-high of 57 yards against the Saints last season Atlanta tried to rally as Ryan hooked up with White again on an 8-yard TD pass, but the Eagles flew away as Westbrook got a 39-yard TD run. A late goal-line stand held the Eagles to a field goal and kept it a two-possession game with 7:57 remaining. Ryan led a no-huddle offense into the red zone on the next series and found White with a second touchdown with less than four minutes to play. Trailing 20-14, the Falcons defense stepped up with a key three-and-out but an odd turn of events kept the Birds offense from getting a shot at the win. Return man Adam Jennings decided at the last second not to field the punt after the Eagles' three-and-out drive. Officials ruled Jennings touched the ball and the muffed punt was recovered by the Eagles. The Falcons did not have a timeout left and, by rule, could not challenge the play. Replays in the press box showed Jennings did not touch the ball. Three plays later Westbrook rushed over the left side for a 39-yard, game-clinching touchdown. Defensive end Jamaal Anderson posted his second sack of the season when he dropped Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb for a six-yard loss in the first quarter, the sack stalled an Eagles drive, forcing a punt. Anderson has now totaled one sack in two consecutive games. Rookie Curtis Lofton earned his first career sack when he dropped McNabb for an eight-yard loss in the second quarter while forcing a fumble. The ball was recovered by defensive end Chauncey Davis. "It never felt like we were out of the game, even when we didn’t get that touchdown when we needed it, it still felt like we stopped them to get a chance to put some more points on the board and that’s what we did," defensive end John Abraham said. "Like I said, it’s part of the game and everybody played well, it was a tough fought game. I think everybody got a lot of bumps and bruises from the game, but it definitely was a good game.” With the loss, the Falcons fell to 4-3.

Hoping to rebound from their road loss to the Eagles, the Falcons flew to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum for a Week 9 interconference duel with the Oakland Raiders. In the first quarter, Atlanta took flight as rookie QB Matt Ryan completed a 37-yard TD pass to WR Michael Jenkins, while RB Jerious Norwood got a 12-yard TD run. In the second quarter, the Falcons added onto their lead with Ryan hooking up with Jenkins again on a 27-yard TD pass, along with kicker Jason Elam nailing a 48-yard field goal. From there on out, Atlanta cruised towards its easy win, as they greatly outgained the Raiders in time of possession (45:15 to 14:45) and total offensive yards (453 to 77).

With the easy win, the Falcons improved to 5-3.

Coming off their shutout road win over the Raiders, the Falcons went home for a Week 10 NFC South duel with the New Orleans Saints. In the first quarter, Atlanta took flight as rookie QB Matt Ryan completed a 16-yard TD pass to WR Roddy White. The Saints would respond with kicker Garrett Hartley getting a 24-yard field goal. In the second quarter, the Falcons increased their lead as RB Michael Turner got a 2-yard TD run. New Orleans would answer with Hartley making a 44-yard field goal. Atlanta would close out the half as kicker Jason Elam got a 22-yard field goal.

In the third quarter, the Falcons got the period's only points as Elam nailed a 27-yard field goal. In the fourth quarter, Atlanta continued to soar as Ryan completed a 67-yard TD pass to RB Jerious Norwood. The Saints tried to rally as QB Drew Brees completed a 15-yard TD pass to RB Deuce McAllister, yet the Falcons flew away as rookie CB Chevis Jackson returned an interception 95 yards for a touchdown. New Orleans would close out the game with Brees completing a 32-yard TD pass to WR Lance Moore.

With the win, Atlanta improved to 6-3.

Coming off their win over the Saints, the Falcons stayed at home for a Week 11 interconference duel with the Denver Broncos. In the first quarter, Atlanta trailed early as Broncos FB Peyton Hillis got a 7-yard TD run. The Falcons would answer with kicker Jason Elam (a former Bronco) getting a 46-yard field goal. In the second quarter, Atlanta took the lead as Elam made a 36-yard field goal, while RB Michael Turner got a 9-yard TD run.

In the third quarter, Denver retook the lead as Hillis got a 2-yard TD run. In the fourth quarter, the Broncos increased their lead as kicker Matt Prater nailed a 20-yard field goal. The Falcons tried to rally as Turner got a 28-yard field goal, yet Denver replied with QB Jay Cutler competing a 9-yard TD pass to TE Daniel Graham. From there on out, the Broncos' defense stopped any other possible comeback attempt.

With their first home loss of the year, Atlanta fell to 6-4.

Hoping to rebound from their loss to the Broncos, the Falcons stayed at home, donned their alternate uniforms, and played a Week 12 NFC South rematch with the Carolina Panthers. In the first quarter, Atlanta took flight as kicker Jason Elam got a 23-yard field goal, while rookie WR Harry Douglas got a 7-yard TD run. In the second quarter, the Falcons increased their lead as RB Michael Turner got a 1-yard TD run. The Panthers closed out the half as kicker John Kasay got a 23-yard field goal. On his third carry of the game, Turner rushed for a six-yard gain and eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing plateau this season. He became the first Falcons running back to reach 1,000 yards in a campaign since 2006 when Warrick Dunn have 1,140 and the 20th running back in franchise history to reach 1,000 yards in a season. Turner career day continued after he tied a team record with four rushing touchdowns of T.J. Duckett posted on December 12, 2004. It was also the second career three-score game and the fourth multiple-touchdown game of his career. Turner first found the end zone on a one-yard rush in the second quarter, scored for the second occasion on a four-yard run in the fourth quarter, logged his third TD on a one-yard run with 7:13 remaining and tallied his last on a 16-yard scamper in the fourth quarter to seal a Falcons 45-28 victory. With four scores, Turner became the third player in Falcons history to post 13 or more rushing touchdowns in a season. Turner finished the game with 24 carries for 117 yards and four touchdowns, which marked his eighth career 100-yard game. He currently has rushed for 1,088 yards this season and is on a pace for 1,583 yards, which would rank third in a season in Falcons annals, following the first half of play, Turner tallied 12 carries for 56 yards. This season, when the fifth-year running back rushes for 50 yards or more in the first half, the Falcons are 5-0. Matt Ryan and the offense faced a quick third down on the next possession, but the quarterback found rookie wide receiver Harry Douglas on a 69-yard pass play to the Panthers 6. Four plays later Turner got his key, fourth-down touchdown.

The Panthers faced an energized defense and a raucous crowd on the next possession. Chauncey Davis recorded his second sack of the day and back-to-back false start penalties backed Carolina into the shadow of its own goal line. The Panthers punted from the end zone, giving Douglas a chance for a big return. The rookie brought the kick back up the middle 61 yards for a touchdown. Delhomme found Muhsin Muhammad for a touchdown on the next series but the Falcons had already done plenty of damage. Still, Turner found the end zone for a final time with just 54 seconds to play. Eric Weems caught his first career pass in the first quarter for a four-yard gain. The reception led to a Falcons touchdown . Douglas scored his first two career touchdowns , he first found the end zone on a seven-yard end around in the first quarter to give the Falcons a 10-0 lead , Douglas then became the 10th player in Falcons history to return a punt for a touchdown and the first since 2004 when Allen Rossum returned a kick 61 yards in the fourth quarter. Douglas return was the longest in his career, topping the previous mark of 33 yards against New Orleans in Week 10 , along with a 61-yard punt return, Douglas totaled career-highs in offensive touches with six (two rushing, four receiving and all purpose yards 188 , which included 3 rushing, 92 receiving and 93 yards on punt returns) , he also became the Falcons third rookie this season to account for a touchdown , along with Douglas run and punt return, quarterback Matt Ryan has thrown 11 touchdown passes and cornerback Chevis Jackson returned an interception 95 yards for a score against New Orleans in Week 10 , Douglas posted a career-long reception with a 69-yard catch in the fourth quarter. He finished the game with 92 receiving yards, which led the team and fell four yards short of his career high ( 96 yards vs. Chicago, October 12 ). Roddy White caught Ryan first pass of the game for a 30-yard gain, marking the 11th reception of 20-plus yards , White finished the game with four receptions for 70 yards and is 27 yards shy of a 1,000-yard season. Atlanta outscored Carolina in the first quarter by a 10-0 margin, marking the seventh time this season a Falcons opponent was held scoreless in the opening 15 minutes of play , Atlanta has now outscored its opponents in the first quarter by a 88-24 mark and led the NFL in first quarter scoring entering Sunday’s game. Following the first quarter of play, the Falcons offense posted 162 net yards of offense compared to zero by the Panthers . Brian Finneran caught one pass for nine yards on a third down in the second quarter, giving the Falcons a new set of downs. In his career, the nine-year veteran has caught 127 of 187 receptions that have gone for a first down or touchdown ( 67.9 percent ).

John Abraham logged his 12th sack of the season and stalled a Carolina two-minute drive at the end of the second quarter , the sack is the 14th in his last 12 games, his 22nd in his last 26 contests and has now recorded 79.5 for his career. In his tenure with the Falcons, Abraham has posted 26 sacks in 34 games played. Abraham’s 12 sacks through 11 games this season already ranks tied for the fifth most in a single season in Falcons history. Atlanta defense held Carolina to three-consecutive three and outs to start the game while allowing only eight net yards , rntering Sunday’s game, the Falcons ranked fourth in the NFC and eighth in the NFL in opponent three and out drives. Jason Snelling caught a 27-yard pass in the first quarter and broke a tackle to take the ball into Carolina territory , the reception is a career-long for the second-year running back, topping his old mark of 18 yards, which he set earlier in the season at Philadelphia.

With the win, the Falcons improved to 7-4.

Coming off their divisional home win over the Panthers, the Falcons flew to Qualcomm Stadium for a Week 13 interconference duel with the San Diego Chargers. In the first quarter, Atlanta took off as kicker Jason Elam got a 35-yard field goal. The Chargers responded with RB LaDainian Tomlinson getting a 3-yard TD run, yet the Falcons stayed close with Elam getting a 40-yard field goal. In the second quarter, Atlanta regained the lead as rookie QB Matt Ryan completed an 18-yard TD pass to TE Justin Peelle, along with their defense forcing opposing QB Philip Rivers to committ intentional grounding from his own endzone, giving Atlanta a safety.

In the third quarter, San Diego answered with safety Eric Weddle returning a fumble 86 yards for a touchdown (with a failed 2-point conversion). In the fourth quarter, the Falcons replied with Ryan completing a 5-yard TD pass to rookie WR Harry Douglas. The Chargers tried to comeback, as kicker Nate Kaeding nailed a 28-yard field goal. Fortunately, Atlanta's defense stiffened for the victory.

With the win, the Falcons improved to 8-4.

Coming off their west coast win over the Chargers, the Falcons flew to the Louisiana Superdome for a Week 14 NFC South rematch with the New Orleans Saints. Atlanta trailed fairly early in the first quarter as Saints QB Drew Brees completed a 5-yard touchdown pass to RB Reggie Bush. In the second quarter, the Falcons continued to trail as kicker Garrett Hartley got a 26-yard field goal. Atlanta would respond RB Michael Turner getting a 5-yard TD run, yet Hartley gave New Orleans a 46-yard field goal. The Falcons struck back with rookie QB Matt Ryan completing a 2-yard TD pass to WR Brian Finneran, but the Saints closed out the half with Hartley's 25-yard field goal.

Atlanta would get the third quarter's only points as kicker Jason Elam nailed a 23-yard field goal. In the fourth quarter, New Orleans tried to pull away as Brees completed a 7-yard touchdown pass to RB Pierre Thomas, yet their 2-point conversion attempt failed. The Falcons would then take the lead as Ryan got a 12-yard touchdown run, followed by a 2-point pass to wide receiver Michael Jenkins. However, the Saints got the last laugh as Thomas got a 5-yard TD run.

With the loss, Atlanta fell to 8-5.

Michael Turner rushed for 152 yards and a touchdown, and Jason Elam kicked the winning 34-yard field goad at 10:56 of overtime to give the Falcons (9-5-0) a much-needed division victory. The Falcons overcame two Matt Ryan interceptions and some sloppy play. The victory over the Buccaneers (9-5-0) kept them in the hunt for a playoff spot, and guaranteed the Falcons first winning season since 2004. Also with the win, the Falcons managed to knock the Saints out of playoff contention. Turner's touchdown was his 15th for the Falcons this season, breaking the record of 14 set in 1998 by Jamal Anderson.

Coming off their divisional home win over the Buccaneers, the Falcons flew to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome for a Week 16 battle with the Minnesota Vikings. Atlanta would get an early first quarter lead with running back Michael Turner getting a 1-yard touchdown run. The Vikings would respond with quarterback Tarvaris Jackson completing a 21-yard touchdown pass to tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. In the second quarter, the Falcons would regain the lead as rookie quarterback Matt Ryan completed an 8-yard touchdown pass to running back Jerious Norwood, followed by kicker Jason Elam getting a 22-yard field goal.

Atlanta would add onto their lead in the third quarter as Ryan tried to run into the endzone for a touchdown, fumbled the ball into the endzone, and offensive guard Justin Blalock would recover it in the endzone for a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Minnesota tried to comeback as kicker Ryan Longwell nailed a 29-yard field goal, along with Jackson hooking up with Shiancoe again on a 17-yard touchdown pass. Fortunately, the Falcon defense would stiffen for the win.

With the win, not only did Atlanta improve to 10-5, but they also clinched a playoff berth for the first since 2004.

With the playoffs on the horizon, the Falcons closed out the regular season at home in a Week 17 duel with the St. Louis Rams. Atlanta took off in the first quarter with kicker Jason Elam making a 39-yard field goal, but the Rams would respond with running back Steven Jackson getting a 4-yard touchdown run. The Falcons would answer in the second quarter with a 9-yard touchdown run from running back Michael Turner. St. Louis would answer with quarterback Marc Bulger completing a 16-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Donnie Avery, yet Atlanta would take the halftime lead with running back Jerious Norwood's 8-yard touchdown run.

In the third quarter, the Falcons would add onto their lead with rookie quarterback Matt Ryan completing an 18-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Roddy White. The Rams would close out the period with kicker Josh Brown making a 31-yard field goal. In the fourth quarter, St. Louis would get the lead again as Jackson got a 2-yard touchdown run, followed by Brown nailing a 27-yard field goal. Fortunately, Atlanta would get the lead for good as Norwood got a 45-yard touchdown run.

With the win, the Falcons closed out the regular season at 11-5 and due to Carolina's victory over New Orleans, earned the NFC's #5 seed.

Entering the playoffs as the NFC's fifth seed, the Falcons began their playoff run at the University of Phoenix Stadium against the #4 Arizona Cardinals. Atlanta would trail early in the first quarter as Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner completed a 42-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. The Falcons would respond in the second quarter as kicker Jason Elam got a 30-yard field goal, but Arizona answered with Warner completing a 71-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Afterwards, Atlanta would end take a halftime lead as running back Michael Turner got a 7-yard touchdown run, followed by rookie quarterback Matt Ryan's 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Justin Peelle.

In the third quarter, the Cardinals retook the lead as safety Antrel Rolle returned a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown, followed by running back Tim Hightower's 4-yard touchdown run. The Falcons' postseason run was fading in the fourth quarter as Ryan was sacked in his endzone by defensive end Antonio Smith for a safety. Afterwards, Atlanta tried to rally as Ryan completed a 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Roddy White, but Arizona's offense ran out the clock for the win.

With the loss, the Falcons' season ended with an overall record of 11-6.

Michael Turner and Roddy White were named to the 2009 Pro Bowl NFC squad as reserves. It will be his first trip to Hawaii. White and Turner are the 112th and 113th Pro Bowl selections in team history, they are the second Falcons RB and WR duo to be voted to the Pro Bowl in the same year (first since 1980). White is the fourth Falcons wide receiver to earn Pro Bowl accolades and the first since Terrance Mathis in 1995. Turner is the eight different falcons runningback to earn Pro Bowl honors. Matt Ryan finished second amongst rookies in fan Pro Bowl voting, Ryan (416,468 votes) was the top rookie quarterback in the category but ranks behind Titans running back Chris Johnson (534,170 votes).

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Source : Wikipedia