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Sunday, October 23, 2011
Wrap-up: Falcons 23, Lions 16

By Pat Yasinskas

Thoughts on the Atlanta Falcons’ 23-16 win against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field:

What it means: The Falcons finally looked a little like the team that many expected at the start of the season. It wasn’t a perfect game by any means, but the Falcons went on the road and beat a very good team. That’s what a playoff team is supposed to do. After it looked as though the Falcons were about to squander their season before it really got started, they have climbed back to 4-3. That’s good enough to keep them very much in contention in the NFC South as they head into a bye week and hope to get some injured players back.

What I liked: Atlanta’s defense. It held a Detroit team that had averaged almost 30 points a game to a season-low 16 points. Although the Lions came on later, they had minus-1 total yards and zero first downs in the first quarter. That allowed the Falcons to get out to a 10-3 lead.

What else I liked: I keep saying it, and I’ll say it again. The Falcons need to remember that Michael Turner is the backbone of their offense. They remembered against the Lions, and Turner gave them 122 yards on 27 carries. When you have that kind of ground game, plays like the 17-yard touchdown pass to Roddy White at the end of the first half are going to come naturally.

What I didn’t like: In a morbid sort of way, a lot of Atlanta fans were hoping left tackle Sam Baker would sit out the game with a back injury. He did sit out and was replaced by Will Svitek. It didn’t make any difference. Matt Ryan still was sacked three times and threw three interceptions. Baker has struggled, but this is proof that he’s not the entire problem on the offensive line.

What’s next: The Falcons have a bye next week. They return to action Nov. 6 against the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.