Atlanta Falcons: Looking to Impress vs. Packers
The Falcons could be a team on the rise. At least until they meet the Green Bay Packers.
After taking down the NFC West leading Arizona Cardinals on Sunday and now have won three of their last four games, Atlanta could be in the right frame of mind to make the run they need toward the playoffs.
But they must get by the hottest team in the NFL first, which is no easy task.
What the game against Arizona did for the team was not only show the offense could be explosive like it was two seasons ago, but it also proved the 5-7 record for this team is not a true barometer of where it is and where this team wants to go. Had Atlanta beaten Cleveland, there would be a different tune in the city and with the NFL media because a four game winning streak is pretty impressive.
Here is what the team learned from winning this week with the help of the team’s website.
1. White Almost Played in Week 13: While Falcons wide receiver Roddy White was held out of Sunday's game against the Cardinals because of an ankle injury, the team anticipates he'll be set to play Monday night in Green Bay. During his weekly press conference Monday, Falcons head coach Mike Smith said White continues to work with the team's athletic performance crew and nearly played in Week 13, until the coaching staff agreed it was in the receiver's best interest long-term to not play.
"Roddy is a guy that doesn't want to miss," Smith said. "It was tough on him when we made the decision to sit him down, but Roddy will continue to work in the training room as well as getting out on the field. We anticipate with the extra day that we should see him at the end of the week. It's an ankle sprain. It's not nearly at the severity of what took place last year."
2. Alford's Close to Returning: In addition to the anticipated return of White, Smith provided an injury update on cornerback Robert Alford, who has missed the last two games with a wrist injury.
"Robert is progressing," Smith said. "I know that he will be fitted for the cast that he'll be playing in, and that is taking place (Monday). He'll start working (we've had him running on the side) in terms of practicing on Thursday. We certainly hope that we have him out there."
Smith also said defensive tackle Paul Soliai will return to practice Thursday after missing time last week for a personal reason.
3. Willy Mo(tivates): Falcons safety William Moore said he did not talk to teammates very much about his Week 13 return. He did, however, provide a pregame speech that spurred the club to a 29-18 victory.
“I explained to the team we’re number one (in the division)," Moore said. "No matter how it happened, no matter what the record is, let’s get some confidence. Let’s play like we’re number one. No matter how we get there, we’re going to win the division.”
Moore didn't just talk about being number one in the NFC South, he went out and helped make it happen. Moore finished the game with four tackles and a forced fumble against Cardinals receiver Michael Floyd in the first quarter. Since 2009, Moore has created 24 turnovers with 14 interceptions and 10 forced fumbles. He ranks third among all active safeties during that time period.
4. Julio's Epic First Half: Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones set a career-high in receiving yards for a single game Sunday, pulling in 10 receptions for 189 yards and one touchdown. He has five touchdown receptions this season. Jones has scores in each of the team's last two games, posting back-to-back games with a touchdown catch for the ninth time in his career.
He closed out a monster first half with 132 yards and one touchdown on eight catches. He has recorded 100-or-more yards in the first half four times in his career. His performance was the ninth best single-game receiving yardage total in team history. Including playoffs, Jones has posted 182-plus yards three times in his career.
5. Bryant's Personal Mantra: More than half of the Falcons' points Sunday came via the foot of Matt Bryant. The team's 39-year-old kicker set a career-high, connecting on all five of his field goal attempts (20, 21, 23, 28 and 45 yards) in the Week 13 win. Including extra points, he tallied 17 total points, which is tied for the fourth-highest point total by any kicker in a single game in franchise history.
Bryant's five makes in Week 13 tied for the second most in a single game in club annals.