Falcons defense tightening up

The Vikings' next opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, improved defending the pass and the run Sunday for their big victory against division-contending Tampa Bay. Their run defense will need to be sharp against Adrian Peterson.

Tampa Bay appeared to take control of Sunday's game right before halftime. Despite getting knocked around for most of the first half, the Bucs drove 67 yards on seven plays in just 1:04 and got a touchdown with 11 seconds left to make it 10-7.

Quarterback Brian Griese was completing passes to wide receivers Antonio Bryant and Mark Clayton.

Bryant had seven catches for 106 yards in the first half. You just figured that if the Falcons didn't do something with Bryant, that the second half would belong to Griese and Bryant.

After the Falcons' overtime win, cornerback Domonique Foxworth pointed out that the coverage in the secondary got tight.

The better combination of zones spooked Griese into holding the ball a little longer and helped John Abraham get to Griese. He also noted that Grady Jackson even got a sack, so the coverage must have been tight.

"I think our guys showed their resiliency and played extremely hard for 60 plus minutes," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "The thing that we talked about with our football team prior to the game was that we had to go out there and empty our tank. The guys did that today."

Also, the move of Coy Wire into the lineup at strongside linebacker paid off. He took over Michael Boley's position. Boley was used as a coverage linebacker in nickel situations.

With Wire getting off blocks and playing strong at the point of attack, the Falcons held the Bucs to 99 yards rushing, just a week after giving up 184 to New Orleans.

Wire had eight solo tackles.

"They bounced back from last week," Smith said. "We really didn't defend the run like we wanted to last week. I thought it was a great, great effort. They were put in some very difficult situations and they were able to rise to the occasion."

The Falcons need their run defense to be firm again against Minnesota and Adrian Peterson, the league's top rusher.


  • RB Michael Turner's 15th rushing touchdown of the season broke the mark of 14 that was set by Jamal Anderson in 1998. He dodged, hit and carried defenders for 152 yards on 32 carries for the Falcons.

    The Bucs had held Turner to a season-low 42 yards in Week 2 of the season. It was his second-highest total of the season. He burned Detroit for 220 yards in the season opener.

    This was Turner's seventh 100-yard rushing game of the season.

    "(That) was only the second game of the season and the second game for us as an offense," Turner said of the Week 2 loss. "I was happy to get a second crack at it and a better chance, with a better game plan. ... This week we wanted to bounce back and see what we really had against them."

    Sometimes the Bucs tried to get Turner with an arm - which didn't work - or as Ronde Barber did once in the third quarter, by the shoe. Turner had runs of 18, 15, 10, 22 and 17 yards.

    He used all those extra yards to move past former Falcon Warrick Dunn, now with the Bucs, into fifth place on the Falcons' single-season rushing list.

    At 1,421 yards on the season, Turner is 425 shy of Jamal Anderson's record of 1,846 yards. That's probably out of reach with only two regular season games left.

  • Former Falcons tackle Mike Kenn and defensive end Claude Humphrey were inducted into the team's Ring on Honor during a halftime time ceremony.

    Banners were unveiled in the rafters to go along with the banners for other members, Tommy Nobis, Jeff Van Note, Steve Bartkowski, William Andrews and Jessie Tuggle.

  • With his first catch that went for 30 yards, wide receiver Roddy White moved into ninth place in career receiving yards in franchise history, passing Stacey Bailey (3,422).

    White finished with four catches for 61 yards.

  • QB Matt Ryan completed 15 of 23 passes for 206 yards (65.2 percent). Ryan has now completed 60 percent of his passes for seven consecutive games and has completed 60 percent of his passes in 11 of 14 games. He also has nine straight games with over 200 yards passing.

  • DE John Abraham has 29.5 sacks in 37 games as a Falcon. His 15.5 sacks this season set a new-single season high for the nine-year veteran, topping his previous high of 13, which he set with the New York Jets in 2001. His 15.5 sacks also rank second in a season in Falcons annals behind Joel Williams' 16 in 1980.

  • DT Grady Jackson earned his second sack of the season in the third quarter. He has 35.5 sacks in his career.

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