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Falcons Sweep Saints; Set Up NFC South Title Bout with Panthers

Falcons Sweep Saints; Set Up NFC South Title Bout with Panthers

Leon Halip/Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS, La) -- With the season sweep of the New Orleans Saints, the Atlanta Falcons guaranteed that the winner of the NFC South will have a losing record.

The Falcons defeated the Saints 30-14 Sunday, giving both teams a 6-9 record on the season.

Matt Ryan led the Atlanta charge, completing 30 of 40 passes for 322 yards and one touchdown pass to Eric Weems. 

Julio Jones returned from injury and looked in fine form, as he caught seven passes for 107 yards.

Drew Brees and the Saints offense continued their season-long inconsistencies. Jimmy Graham fumbled on the Falcons' 1-yard line in the fourth quarter, and Drew Brees threw two interceptions, including one to Robert McClain that set up an Atlanta field goal.

The Falcons will host the Carolina Panthers (6-8-1) next week in Atlanta, with the winner earning the NFC South crown. 

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Monday Night Football Preview

Monday Night Football Preview

Tom Lynn /Getty Images(GREEN BAY, Wisc.) -- The Green Bay Packers will host the Atlanta Falcons on Monday in a battle of two first place teams.

Green Bay is coming off an impressive 26-21 win over the Patriots last Sunday and quarterback Aaron Rodgers knows how critical winning in the final stretch of the season is.

"We have some big goals, and we're getting into December football now with a chance with everything right in front of us," Rodgers said.

Rodgers has completed 66.3 percent of his passes and has thrown 32 touchdowns this year..

"No disrespect to any quarterback in the NFL, but right now he's at a level that much higher than anybody else," Falcons head coach Mike Smith said this week.  "I don't know that there's been a quarterback that's had a stretch like he's had in the history of the NFL." 

The Falcons have won their last three out of four games, but are 2-4 on the road this year.

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Falcons Collapse in London, Lose to Lions 22-21

Falcons Collapse in London, Lose to Lions 22-21

Leon Halip/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The Atlanta Falcons led at halftime over the Lions 21-0. When they looked up at the clock as the game was over, the score favored Detroit 22-21.

The Falcons suffered a defensive breakdown with 4:38 to go in the third quarter as Golden Tate ran past two Atlanta defenders and caught a 59-yard bomb from Matt Stafford, closing Atlanta's early lead to 21-10.

On the ensuing drive, with pressure in his face quarterback Matt Ryan threw a terrible inteception to Lions cornerback Cassius Vaughn. 

"In my mind, that kind of cost us the ball game," Ryan said. "I was trying to throw the ball away and I never saw him."

The Falcons defense remained stought and held the Lions to a field goal. The Lions would score another touchdown in the fourth quarter when Matt Stafford found Theo Riddick on a five yard completion. The score was now 21-19 after Detroit missed a two point attempt to tie the game.

The Falcons would try to run the clock out with a poorly executed drive. With less than two minutes to go the Falcons commited a holding penalty that would stop the clock at 1:55.  On the next play, Matt Ryan attempted a screen to Julio Jones, who dropped the ball.  Atlanta would punt the ball inside Detroit's ten yard line.

Detroit would march down the field with little resistance.  Settling at Atlanta's 25 yard line, Detroit lined up for a field goal and newly signed kick Matt Prater pushed the ball wide right.  Atlanta ran on the field in celebration only to find out a whistle had blown. The Lions were called for a delay of game penalty: the kick was negated.  Prater got a second chance and drilled it though the uprights.

That's football. He missed it and there was a delay of game penalty," Mike Smith, Falcons head coach said after the loss. "Thought we were going to squeak one out. Obviously we didn't."

 

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Joe Flacco: Still Have to Put the Work In

Joe Flacco: Still Have to Put the Work In

Rob Carr/Getty Images(BALTIMORE) -- The Baltimore Ravens will have the spotlight to themselves after the Orioles were knocked out of the ALCS by the Royals on Wednesday.

Fresh off throwing five touchdown passes, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is making sure his team does everything they can to prepare the right way after blowing out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday.

Flacco said the biggest challenge the team will face after an easy win is "coming in here and reminding yourself and everybody to put the work in. I think that comes naturally for us, it's something we're good at doing, once you get out there on Sunday everything takes care of itself."

Concerning Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, Flacco said: "We were in the same class. As long as you're still talking about us, we're somewhat relevant, so I guess that's a good thing.  It's nice to see that we are still relevant."

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh knows the Falcons will be hungry for a win after losing three in a row.

"Atlanta's good. They're going to be on turf, so they're going to be fast," Harbaugh said. "They've got big, fast receivers. They've got fast running backs, and they got a quarterback that drives the whole thing. That's an explosive football team, and we've got to be ready for them."

The Ravens will host the Atlanta Falcons, who are 0-3 on the road this season.

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Falcons Prepare for Vikings

Falcons Prepare for Vikings

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- The Atlanta Falcons will travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings on Sunday.

Minnesota will be sending out rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for his first career start after veteran Matt Cassel was injured last weekend and ruled out for the remainder of the season.

"It's a lifelong dream to play and start in this league," Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said of Bridgewater making his first start.  "It's a really special day; it's one that you'll never forget.  I think Teddy will do a great job."

Falcons head coach Mike Smith knows that facing a rookie quarterback will be tough for his defense.

"We've got a challenge in my mind with an athletic quarterback to be able to keep him in the pocket," Smith said after Monday's practice.

"He is very athletic. ... He was able to make some plays with his feet. That's another dynamic. ... I think you'll see they want to put the ball in his hands and give him some run-pass options. That's one of his strengths, the ability to extend plays, and he did a great job as a college quarterback extending plays. We'll have to do some different things in preparing for him, in regards to pass rush and pass-rush lanes."

Atlanta is averaging 34.3 points per game this season and Ryan went 21 of 24 and threw three touchdowns in their 56-14 rout of the Rams last Thursday.

"They've got a lot of weapons," Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said.  "We're going to have to do a great job of being in the right place.  We have to make sure we're in the right position of coverage all day."Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Falcons Stomp Bucs 56-14

Falcons Stomp Bucs 56-14

Leon Halip/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- The Atlanta Falcons scored 35 first-half points en route to a 56-14 stomping of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Thursday night.

The game was out of reach by the end of the first quarter, when the Falcons scored 21 points, 14 of them on Matt Ryan touchdown passes. Ryan finished the game completing 21 of 24 passes for 286 yards and three touchdowns.                                                    

Falcons receiver Devin Hester scored twice, the second time on a 62-yard punt return that moved him ahead of Deion Sanders for the most return touchdowns in NFL history.

"It's tough to break the record of the guy who is my No. 1 mentor," Hester said. "I'm kind of emotional right now."Tampa Bay (0-3) turned the ball over five times and mustered only 217 yards of offense in the loss. Julio Jones caught nine passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns for Atlanta, which improves its record to 2-1.

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Bryant’s Kick KO’s Saints in OT

Bryant’s Kick KO’s Saints in OT

Leon Halip/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- Matt Bryant's 52 yard field goal 1:43 into overtime clinched the Atlanta Falcons 37-34 victory over their division rival New Orleans Saints on Sunday. The Saints had the ball first in overtime, but receiver Marques Colston fumbled the ball, allowing the Falcons the chance to win on a field goal. Before overtime, it was the Matt Ryan show: the Falcons quarterback threw for a franchise-record 448 yards and three touchdowns in the win. "He's played a lot of games, made a lot of plays for us," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "But I was really impressed with his ability to extend some plays by moving around in the pocket. And he was very, very accurate. When you have (568 yards) of total offense and 448 through the air, your quarterback is playing well." Julio Jones was on the receiving end of many of Ryan's passes. After missing most of last season with a broken foot, Jones returned to the field catching seven balls for 116 yards. Saints quarterback Drew Brees completed 29 of 42 passes for 333 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.

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Niners End Their Stay at Candlestick Park With a Win

Niners End Their Stay at Candlestick Park With a WinThearon W. Henderson/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- NaVorro Bowman made sure the San Francisco 49ers' final regular-season game at Candlestick Park was a win. Bowman's pick-six with 1:10 remaining sealed the 49ers' 34-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons Mo...

Saints Nip Falcons 17-13

Saints Nip Falcons 17-13Chris Graythen/Getty Images(ATLANTA) --  In a battle that featured two teams heading in opposite directions this season, the New Orleans Saints came out on top. Drew Brees tossed a pair of first half touchdowns as the Saints edged the Atlanta Falc...

Wilson Not Looking Past Falcons Record

Wilson Not Looking Past Falcons RecordKevin Casey/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Seattle Seahawks will look to improve to 9-1 on Sunday when they travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons (2-6). Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson comes into the game having thrown for 1,845 yards and 15 touc...

Julio Jones Out for Rest of Season

Julio Jones Out for Rest of SeasonScott Cunningham/Getty Images(ATLANTA) --  The Atlanta Falcons confirmed Wednesday that wide receiver Julio Jones will miss the remainder of the season with a right foot injury. A CT scan showed that Jones suffered the same fracture in his foot as...

Jets Upset the Falcons, 30-28 on “Monday Night Football”

Jets Upset the Falcons, 30-28 on “Monday Night Football”Nick Lahem/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- Don't look now, but the New York Jets are now 3-2 after traveling to Atlanta and upsetting the Falcons on Monday Night Football. Jets' rookie Geno Smith showed why the team might have a francihse quarterback going fo...

Patriots Hang On and Beat Falcons 30-23

Patriots Hang On and Beat Falcons 30-23Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images (ATLANTA) -- Once again, the New England Patroits found a way to win. Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib batted down a fourth down pass in the Pats end zone with 36 seconds remaining, giving the ball and the...

Falcons Hold Off Rams, 31-24

Falcons Hold Off Rams, 31-24Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- The Falcons (1-1) got their first win of the season in their home opener on Sunday.  Matt Ryan passed for 374 yards and threw two touchdowns in Atlanta's 31-24 win over the St. Louis Rams (1-1). Falcons wi...

Torrey Smith Shines as Ravens Edge Falcons 27-23

Torrey Smith Shines as Ravens Edge Falcons 27-23Rob Carr/Getty Images(BALTIMORE) --  After an incredible postseason run that resulted in a Super Bowl title, the Baltimore Ravens finally returned home to play a game at M&T Bank Stadium. Torrey Smith hauled in a 77-yard touchdown pass from Jo...

Matt Ryan Agrees To Contract Extension With Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan Agrees To Contract Extension With Atlanta FalconsLeon Halip/Getty Images(FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga.) -- The Atlanta Falcons and two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan agreed to a five-year contract extension on Thursday. The deal is reportedly worth up to $103.75 million, with $59 million in guaranteed mon...

Super Bowl or Bust for Falcons in 2013

Super Bowl or Bust for Falcons in 2013Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It's Super Bowl or bust for the Atlanta Falcons in 2013, according to wide receiver Roddy White. The Falcons fell to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game last season, but White believes that in 201...

49ers Come Back To Beat Falcons, Clinch Super Bowl Berth

49ers Come Back To Beat Falcons, Clinch Super Bowl BerthKevin C. Cox/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- The San Francisco 49ers are heading back to the Super Bowl. The 49ers came back from 17-point deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 on Sunday in the NFC Championship game to clinch a trip to the Super Bowl. It ...

NFC Championship Game Preview: 49ers @ Falcons

NFC Championship Game Preview: 49ers @ FalconsTom Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The San Francisco 49ers head to Atlanta Sunday to take on the top seeded Atlanta Falcons in the NFC championship game. The second seeded Niners, who are playing in their second straight championship ...

Falcons Clip Seahawks, Head To NFC Championship

Falcons Clip Seahawks, Head To NFC ChampionshipKevin C. Cox/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- The Atlanta Falcons blew a big lead, and two Matts bailed them out. Matt Bryant hit a 49-yard field goal with eight seconds left to lift the Falcons over the Seattle Seahawks, 30-28 in the NFC Divisional round of t...
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