The Atlanta Falcons rolled over the Detroit Lions on Sunday by a count of
34-21. Here are the three players who deserved a gameball based on their
performances on Sunday.
Falcons RB Michael Turner: The former Charger posted 220 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 10 yards per carry, bolstered by a 66-yard touchdown jaunt. But even without that one big play, Turner averaged 7.3 yards on his other 21 carries.
Falcons DE John Abraham: He finished the day with three sacks that set the Lions back 16 yards, including two in the fourth quarter. Honorable mention goes to Lawyer Milloy for a timely interception when Detroit appeared to be gaining momentum.
Lions safety Kalvin Pearson was credited with four of Detroit's six special teams tackles. You don't see that very often.
- Atlanta's running back tandem is going to be a huge asset to rookie quarterback Matt Ryan development. In addition to Turner's performance, RB Jerious Norwood rushed 14 times for 93 yards (6.6 yards per carry) and a score. With that kind of productivity on the ground, the young signal-caller won't have to feel like he's trying to carry the offense on his shoulders while settling in as an NFL quarterback.
- I was just as impressed as the next guy when I saw the clip of Matt Ryan's first NFL pass - a well-thrown ball to Michael Jenkins for a 62-yard score less than two minutes into the game. But after that, there wasn't much to get excited about beyond the fact that the rookie didn't make any mistakes to hurt his team. However, no one should underestimate that accomplishment either. The rest of the day, Ryan completed eight of 12 passes for just 99 yards and Atlanta finished the day with just five first downs through the air.
Lions WR Calvin Johnson makes one of his seven catches against Atlanta.
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
- Calvin Johnson posted some strong numbers for Detroit, catching seven passes for 107 yards. But he disappeared during the second half, catching just two balls for 21 yards. I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see what the former Georgia Tech star does during his sophomore campaign after averaging 15.8 yards per catch during his rookie year.
- Lions RB Kevin Smith had an adequate, but unspectacular start to his NFL career. With just 48 yards on 16 carries, the rookie scored once, but didn't break a run longer than 10 yards. He did show his versatility by catching four balls for another 32 yards. And there's little doubt that he's going to be a very solid talent in this league as he continues to gain experience.
"They looked good and we missed tackles. That's pretty much the long and short of it." - Detroit safety Dwight Smith, the team's leading tackler against Atlanta (8 tackles).
"This is a huge wake-up call for us. We've got to look at the tape and see what's going on." - Detroit DT Cory Redding
"We knew what we had in him since day one. I am impressed with the way he breaks tackles and does not want to go down. I often find myself sitting back watching him run the ball and it's a great pleasure. It is evident that he is a player coming into his own. And I am glad to be his teammate." - Atlanta QB Matt Ryan on teammate Michael Turner.
"Yeah, they started to wear down in the second quarter. You could see it on their faces and in their body language. That's one of our biggest things we want to do. We want to impose our will on the other team. I feel like we did that tonight." - RB Jerious Norwood when asked if he noticed the Detroit defense wearing down a bit.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the Scout.com network and at FOXSports.com. You can contact him by email through this link.