Falcons Wary of Cleveland

Atlanta has had trouble running against 3-4 fronts, and have been geting some good fortune. Are they heading towards a trap in Cleveland?

The Falcons are living well.

Against the Saints it was a missed field goal.

Against the 49ers, it was a strip and fumble recovery after an apparent game-clinching interception.

Now they are off to Cleveland to face the Browns, who are coming off their first victory of the season.

"We all know that you have to play for 60 minutes," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "I think that it's always great to win that battle of wills. That's what that was. It was a battle of our will against their will."

Smith is troubled the continued lapses of the special teams, which allowed a blocked punt, and the offense's inconsistency running the ball against 3-4 fronts. They'll face another 3-4 front in Cleveland.

"We've got a lot of things that we have to correct, but I really like the fight and the resolve of our team," Smith said.

The Falcons know they are fortunate to have a 3-1 record after the first quarter of the season.

"We have lots of things that we have to correct," Smith said. "We will look at the film and move on to Cleveland, very, very quickly."

The Falcons are counting on safety William Moore to continue to help anchor the defense.

Moore retained the starting strong safety position even though Erik Coleman was active for the game.

Moore turned in a couple of key plays. He had an interception in the third quarter to stop a promising San Francisco drive.

"It was just a great call and scheme that we had," Moore said. "Overall, we were just baiting the quarterback."

In the fourth quarter, he came on a delayed blitz and got a sack and forced quarterback Alex Smith into an intentional grounding penalty.

"I just getting an opportunity to play a little faster and I'm trying to show them what I can do," Moore said.

Moore finished with four tackles.

But when the Falcons got the ball back after 49ers cornerback Nate Clements' fumble. Smith was already thinking about his next move.

"It was very important for us to try to figure out how we were going to manage the clock based on the plays in-bounds," Smith said. "Whether if we were going to come up to the line and kill it. Or use time outs. That was my thoughts. Just trying to play gymnastics and the numbers in that situation. I know that we had three timeouts when we got the ball back. It gave us a lot of flexibility in what we could call."

 

NOTES, QUOTES

TRENDING: The Falcons had another breakdown on special teams against the San Francisco 49ers. Last week, they allowed a 72-yard punt return by New Orleans' Lance Moore that led to the Saints' first touchdown. Trailing 7-0, the 49ers blocked a Michael Koenen punt and recovered it for a touchdown to make it 14-0. The special teams units were the unsung heroes of the team's 11-5 campaign and wildcard berth in 2008.

BY THE NUMBERS: With a 9-yard catch in the second quarter Tony Gonzalez became the first tight end in league history to surpass the 12,000 yards receiving mark. He's the 17th player overall to reach that plateau. Gonzalez had seven catches for 41 yards, giving him 12,012 on his career. "At this point, I'll take whatever (records) I can get," Gonzalez said. "But the victory is more important. The milestones and all that stuff is just icing on the cake."

 

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES

--DT Corey Peters left the game with a back injury. He was replaced by Vance Walker before returning to the game.

--WR Harry Douglas caught the second touchdown reception of his career and first of the season in the second quarter.

--QB Matt Ryan completed 26 of 43 passes for 273 yards and one touchdown. He improved his record to 15-1 at the Georgia Dome.

--LB Curtis Lofton recorded his second sack of the season when he tackled Alex Smith is the second quarter. Lofton also had his first career interception.

--WR Roddy White finished with seven catches for 104 yards against the 49ers. He has 32 catches and is on pace to catch 128 passes this season.


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