First Look At: Atlanta Falcons

The Green Bay Packers visit the Atlanta Falcons as two of the NFC's best teams will meet on Sunday. The Falcons silenced the Rams' pass rush on Sunday, a fact that bodes well for their matchup against the Packers.

The Atlanta Falcons will face another sack-happy team when they met the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

They were able to control the St. Louis Rams, who were tied for the league lead (with Green Bay) with 28 sacks, with offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey digging deep into his bag of wizardry to slow down defensive ends James Hall (7.5 sacks) and Chris Long (5.5 sacks).

Quarterback Matt Ryan controlled the tempo of the game by slowing down their play calls, then speeding them up out of the no-huddle and then by going with some dummy cadences to keep the Rams off-balance.

Not only did the Rams not register a sack, they were called for two false starts.

The Falcons normally use the no-huddle just as a change of pace and it's usually a slower check-with-me no-huddle.

The Falcons, who own the best record in the NFC, likely have to come up with a new plan to slow down the Packers. Their 15 sacks allowed are tied for the fifth-fewest in the league.

While they didn't give up a sack, they hand to settle for three short field goals. Against the Packers, they'll have to turn those field goals into touchdowns.

Not only is Ryan benefitting from excellent protection, he is being extremely careful with the ball. He has not thrown an interception in three games and his touchdown-to-interception ratio for the season is 18 to 5.

"That's kind of a recipe for success," Ryan said. "You create turnovers and protect the football. Then you become difficult to beat."

The Falcons were lamenting that they haven't put together a full game where the entire offense was clicking.

"We just still need to clean some things up," Ryan said. "There are a lot of areas where we need to improve."

The last time the Falcons played the Packers, Roddy White put on a show. During the 2008 season, he caught eight passes for 132 yards and a touchdown as the Falcons won 27-24 at Lambeau Field. He's riding high after clearing the 1,000-yard mark for the season last week,.

"He's continued to win and make big plays for us," Ryan said. "I think it's incredibly impressive that he's at 1,000 yards, quickest in the organization's history. I think it speaks to the kind of player that he is. He's an explosive guy for us."

Lineup watch

RDE John Abraham, who had started 55 of the last 56 games, was a late scratch at St. Louis with a groin injury.

Jamaal Anderson made the start in his spot and was solid, but the pass rush was noticeable weaker without Abraham, who leads the team with eight sacks. The defense didn't get one against the Rams.

Also, TE Justin Peelle returned after missing the last three games. He took over his role as the second tight end from rookie Michael Palmer, who was solid over the last three games. Peelle had an immediate impact in the passing game, catching a key 12-yarder and a 2-yard touchdown. He's a stronger blocker and should help the running game down the stretch.

By the numbers

With a 26-yard reception in the first quarter, White passed former Falcons WR Andre Rison for the third-most receiving yards in franchise history. Rison totaled 5,633 receiving yards in four seasons in Atlanta while White has tallied 5,706 yards in his six seasons.

With a 9-yard reception late in the third quarter, White recorded his 1,000th receiving yard of the season becoming the first player in franchise history to record four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. White finished the game with nine catches for 83 yards. He is on pace for 1,600 yards this season.

Player notes

— SS William Moore stepped into a passing lane and picked Sam Bradford off at the Falcons 1-yard line. It was Moore's fourth interception of the season and snapped Bradford's NFL rookie record streak of 169 consecutive pass attempts without an interception. Moore, a second-round pick in 2009, leads the Falcons with four interceptions.

— RB Michael Turner scored a season-long 39-yard touchdown run on the Falcons' final possession, putting Atlanta up 34-17 with less than 2 minutes remaining. Turner finished the game with 131 yards on 28 carries and one touchdown, marking his fifth 100-yard game of the season and the third time he's gone over the century mark in the last four games.

— Ryan, who has not thrown an interception in his last three games, is on pace to throw 26 touchdowns. He has thrown at least one touchdown pass in each of the last nine games. Ryan completed 26-of-39 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns. He also posted a 101.8 passer rating, marking the fifth time this season he has accomplished that feat. The Falcons own a perfect 14-0 record when Ryan's passer rating is 100 points or better.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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