NFC South: Leeman Bennett

Falcons' statistical superlatives

October, 1, 2012
ATLANTA -- With some help from ESPN Stats & Information and the Atlanta Falcons' media-relations department, let’s take a look at the Falcons’ statistical superlatives from Sunday’s 30-28 victory against the Carolina Panthers.
  • The Carolina defense did a great job of shutting down wide receiver Julio Jones. He was targeted, but had only one reception. Plus, one of those passes for Jones resulted in a Carolina interception. But the problem with devoting too much defensive attention is that it frees up fellow receiver Roddy White. The Panthers ended up picking White as their poison. Matt Ryan connected with White on eight of 12 targets for 169 yards and two touchdowns. White averaged 23 yards per catch.
  • White increased his record for 100-yard receiving games to 30.
  • Atlanta’s defense did a nice job of putting pressure on Carolina quarterback Cam Newton. He was under duress, hit or sacked on 10 (his highest total of the season) of his 30 dropbacks. Newton completed just one of five passes for six yards when he was under pressure. He was sacked three times and also scrambled twice for 17 yards when under duress.
  • The Falcons improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2004. The only other time the Falcons started 4-0 was in 1986.
  • Coach Mike Smith moved into sole possession of second place for most victories in franchise history. He now has 47 and surpassed Leeman Bennett, who had 46. The team record is 49 and is held by Dan Reeves.
  • Ryan improved to 5-0 against the Panthers in the Georgia Dome.
  • Ryan has thrown a touchdown pass in 19 straight games and five straight games with at least two touchdowns.
  • Ryan finished with a 107.2 passer rating. He has had a passer rating above 100 in five straight games, dating back to last season’s finale.
  • The Falcons are 27-0 when Ryan has a passer rating of 100 or better.
  • Matt Bryant's 40-yard field goal was the 13th game winner of his career. Bryant has made 22 consecutive field goals.
  • Running back Michael Turner finished with 103 yards on 13 carries. It was his 26th 100-yard game as a Falcon. That’s a new franchise record. Gerald Riggs set the previous record with 25.
  • Defensive end John Abraham sacked Newton on the game’s final play. Abraham is the NFL’s active leader with 115 career sacks and ranks No. 15 on the all-time list.
  • The Falcons wore their 1966 throwback uniforms Sunday. Since 2009, they’re 6-1 in the throwback uniforms.

Superlatives on the Falcons

September, 24, 2012
Since the Atlanta Falcons were the only NFC South to win in Week 3, they’re the only division team that will get a list of statistical superlatives.

With help from ESPN Stats & Information and the Falcons' media relations department, let’s take a look at Atlanta’s statistical highlights.
  • In a 27-3 victory at San Diego, the Falcons forced four turnovers. It marked the second straight game in which the Falcons have come up with four turnovers. Under coach Mike Smith, the Falcons are 20-1 when they have at least three takeaways.
  • The Falcons are plus-10 on turnovers this season to lead the NFL. Their 40 points off turnovers also are an NFL high.
  • Atlanta’s 3-0 start marked the first time the Falcons have started 3-0 since 2004, when they opened with four straight wins.
  • With Sunday’s win, Smith moved into a tie for second on Atlanta’s all-time wins list. Smith’s career record now is 46-21. Leeman Bennett was 46-41 between 1977 and 1982. Dan Reeves holds the franchise record for wins. His record with the Falcons was 49-59-1 from 1997 through 2003.
  • Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan has thrown at least one touchdown pass in his last 18 games. Ryan also has thrown at least one touchdown in 33 of his last 34 games.
  • Ryan threw three touchdown passes and now has 32 career games with more than one touchdown pass. The Falcons are 13-0 when Ryan has thrown three or more touchdown passes.
  • Ryan now has thrown two or more touchdowns in five of his last six games. The Falcons are 27-5 when Ryan throws for multiple touchdowns.
  • Tight end Tony Gonzalez finished with nine catches for 91 yards and a touchdown. The nine receptions tied his high since joining the Falcons. The touchdown catch was the 98th of his career.
  • The Falcons are the only team in the NFL to score a touchdown on their opening possession in each of this season’s three games. Since 2008, the Falcons lead the league with 193 points on their first offensive possession.
  • The Falcons have had at least one takeaway in 36 of their last 38 games. The Atlanta defense held the Chargers to just 27 yards in the first quarter, while not allowing a third-down conversion.
  • Ryan had a 107.8 passer rating Sunday. Ryan has had a passer rating over 100 in all three games this season. In his career, the Falcons are 26-0 when Ryan’s passer rating is 100 or better.
  • Safety Thomas DeCoud had a hand in three of Atlanta’s four takeaways. DeCoud had two interceptions and a fumble recovery. For the season, he has three interceptions.
  • Defensive end John Abraham recorded a sack on the final play of the first half. Abraham now has 114 career sacks, which puts him in sole possession of 15th place on the NFL’s all-time list.

Final Word: NFC South

December, 30, 2011
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 17:

High-powered offenses: Assuming the Saints play their starters, and they say they will, their game with the Panthers may look like a mismatch at first glance. But, look again. The Panthers are a much better team than they were earlier in the year. They’ve won four of their past five games and they’ve scored 164 points in that span. Since Week 12, only the Saints (189 points) and the Patriots (171) have scored more points. Carolina also has won three straight road games after snapping a 12-game road losing streak.

[+] EnlargeMatt Ryan
Daniel Shirey/US PresswireMatt Ryan is 73 yards away from setting the Atlanta franchise record for passing yards in a season.
Bright spot: The Falcons can take a bit of good news out of Monday night’s loss to New Orleans. They’re very good at bouncing back from a loss. The Falcons have not lost back-to-back games since 2009.

Erasing Jeff George: Like the Saints, the Falcons also are saying they’ll play their starters. Let’s hope that’s true and let’s hope Matt Ryan at least plays long enough to throw for 73 yards. If he does, he’ll set the franchise record for passing yards in a season. The record is 4,143 yards and it was set by Jeff George in 1995. No team should have George at the top of its record book for 16 years.

Last dance? I don’t think the Bucs are literally playing for coach Raheem Morris’ job on Sunday in Atlanta. I suspect ownership already has made a decision and one game isn’t going to change it. There’s been some speculation Morris could stay if he replaces himself as defensive coordinator and makes a change at offensive coordinator. It’s possible, but I think it’s highly unlikely. The Bucs have crumbled during a nine-game slide. If this were Morris’ first or second year, he might stick. But this is his third year and, by that time, you should be seeing progress -- not major regression -- from a youth movement.

Stats are for losers: Let’s put Tampa Bay’s nine-game losing streak in perspective. It’s the longest active losing streak in the NFL. It’s Tampa Bay’s longest losing streak since losing 11 consecutive games between the 2008 and ’09 seasons. The last time the Bucs lost 10 straight in a single season was 1977, the franchise’s second season, when the Bucs lost their first 12 games. If the Bucs lose to the Falcons, Morris will join John McKay and Leeman Bennett as the only coaches in franchise history to have more than one 12-loss season.