Halftime thoughts on Falcons-Cardinals

November, 18, 2012
11/18/12
2:40
PM ET
ATLANTA -- For most of the first half, the Atlanta Falcons played about as poorly as possible. Amazingly, they’re tied, 16-16, with the Arizona Cardinals at halftime.

The Falcons basically handed the Cardinals a 13-0 lead as Matt Ryan, who had been intercepted only seven times in the first nine games, threw three interceptions in the first quarter. Two of them came on balls that were tipped and Ryan was under heavy pressure on the other.

But defensive end John Abraham and defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux put the Falcons back in the game on a huge play with 8:37 remaining in the second quarter. Abraham hit Arizona quarterback Ryan Lindley as he was about to throw. A lot of Arizona and Atlanta players reacted as if it was an incomplete pass and the ball was sitting on the ground. But Babineaux was alert enough to realize the play had not been whistled dead. He scooped the ball up and ran it in for Atlanta’s only touchdown of the half.

Ryan and the entire Atlanta offense will have to be much sharper in the second half if the Falcons are going to pull this one off. The defense has played well, but it looks like the Falcons will be without cornerback Asante Samuel the rest of the day. He injured his shoulder late in the first quarter and has not returned to the game. That's meant more playing time for Robert McClain and Christopher Owens.

I'll be back with a Rapid Reaction soon after the game ends.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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