PHOTO: Atlanta Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall (21) tries to block the kick as New England Patriots holder Josh Miller (8) holds for kicker Adam Vinatieri (4) as he puts away the field goal to give the Patriots a 31-28 win over the Falcons late in the second half at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2005. (AP Photo/Ric Feld)
Patriots Defeat Falcons 31 - 28
By Patriots Insider Staff
Atlanta, GA The New England Patriots were determined to run the ball against a smaller and less physical Atlanta Falcon team. Patriots coach Bill Belichick talked about having to get Corey Dillon back on track during his weekly press conferences and true to form, the Patriots did just that, running Dillon 23 times for 106 yards.
Dillon's running early in the game allowed the Patriots to utilize the play-action pass, something that has not been effective in the first four weeks of the season. The Falcons were forced to adjust to Dillon and the Patriots ground game which allowed Tom Brady to light things up through the air.
Jumping to a 14-point first-quarter lead, the Patriots traded scores with the Falcons quarter-by-quarter as the momentum of the game swung back and forth each period. The Patriots led 14-0 before the Falcons closed the gap 14-13 just before the half. The Patriots opened up the third period with a couple of long passes to tight ends Daniel Graham and Ben Watson, scoring again to open up the game to a 28-13 lead before Atlanta came roaring back to tie it up 28 apiece in the final quarter.
As many other teams have found out, the Falcons left too much time on the clock when they scored leaving just under four minutes on the clock. Nearly four minutes on the clock and a first down from their own 36, the Patriots were all set to drive the field to make the winning score, but things didn't' go as planned.. Three penalties in a row put the Patriots back on their heels with a first and 25 in front of a hostile Atlanta crowd. A pass interference call gave the Patriots new life and plenty for time for Tom Brady to drive down the field from the Patriots own 21 to the Falcons 12 yard line. With 20 seconds left, kicker Adam Vinatieri trotted out on the field to kick the game winner.
The Patriots offense managed to roll up their first 100-yard rushing performance while Tom Brady connected on 3 scoring tosses. With plenty of big plays turned in by the Patriots receivers and the tight ends, the offense appeared to be back on track against the Falcons. Brady ended the day completing 22 of 27 passes for 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. The offense clicked, but the Patriots defense continued to struggle.
Warrick Dunn, who led the NFL's best rushing attack coming in to the game, was contained by the oft-maligned Patriots rush defense. Dunn was averaging over 5 yards per carry before the Patriots defense, missing Richard Seymour, limited him to 19 rushes for 83 yards - a 4.3 yard per carry average. Dunn ended with his first game less than 100 yards rushing this season. Although Dunn managed 4.3 yards per attempt, the Falcons needed to gain yardage through the air. The Patriots defense continued to have difficulty stopping the big play through the air. Falcons' backup quarterback Matt Schaub led the Flacon's charge by completing crucial plays to talented TE in Algae Crumpler, and the other taller Falcon receivers. The Patriots allowed the 6'-2", 262-pund Crumpler to gather in 6 catches for 99 yards and one touchdown. More importantly the defense allowed the Falcons to convert 5 of 13 third downs, sustaining drives when it mattered most.
New England had to be satisfied with their offense performance, but concerns over their defense continue.
The win puts New England's record at 3-2 and drops Atlanta to 3-2 also. New England's win, combined with a Miami Dolphins' loss, puts them back on top of the AFC East. The Patriots next game is against the Denver Broncos at Denver.
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