NFC South: Tony Martin

Superlatives on the Falcons

December, 17, 2012
12/17/12
11:22
AM ET
With some help from ESPN Stats & Information and the Atlanta Falcons' media relations department, let’s take a look at some statistical superlatives from Atlanta’s 34-0 victory against the New York Giants on Sunday.
  • Quarterback Matt Ryan had no problem handling the Giants’ blitz. When New York sent five or more pass rushers, Ryan completed six of seven passes and averaged 15.1 yards per attempt.
  • Ryan broke two of his own franchise records. He now has a team-best 4,202 passing yards on the season, breaking the record (4,177 yards he set last year). Ryan also has 369 completions on the season. He set the previous record with 357 in 2010.
  • Ryan completed 23 of 28 passes (82.1 percent) for 270 yards with three touchdowns and a 142.6 passer rating. Ryan’s completion percentage was the second-best total of his career. He completed 85.7 percent of his passes in a 2010 game against Green Bay.
  • Ryan now has posted a passer rating of 100 or better 32 times in his career. The Falcons are 31-1 in those games.
  • Not counting kneel-downs, the Falcons rushed 35 times for 133 yards. Seventy-four of those yards came after contact.
  • The shutout was Atlanta’s first since Nov. 2, 2009 at Oakland and its first in the Georgia Dome since Oct. 20, 2002 against Carolina.
  • The Falcons handed Eli Manning the first regular-season shutout of his career. It also was the first time the Giants have been shut out in the regular season since 1996.
  • Since coach Mike Smith’s arrival in 2008, the Falcons are 20-3 following a loss. The Falcons have won 10 straight games coming off a loss.
  • Cornerback Asante Samuel intercepted Manning in the first quarter. It was Samuel’s 48th career interception, which ranks No. 4 among active players.
  • Michael Turner moved into second place on the team’s all-time rushing list. Turner has 6,022 yards since joining the Falcons in 2008. Gerald Riggs is the franchise leader with 6,630 yards.
  • Julio Jones topped the 1,000-yard receiving mark. Jones and Roddy White became the first pair of Atlanta receivers to reach 1,000 yards in the same season since Terance Mathis and Tony Martin did it in 1998. Jones and White have combined for 148 receptions, 2,227 yards and 14 touchdowns this season.
  • The Falcons have not allowed a passing touchdown in their last three home games.
  • Safety Thomas DeCoud recorded his sixth interception of the season. He and William Moore are the NFL’s only safety tandem in which both players have at least four interceptions.

Rapid Reaction: Falcons 34, Giants 0

December, 16, 2012
12/16/12
3:48
PM ET

ATLANTA -- Thoughts on the Atlanta Falcons34-0 victory against the New York Giants on Sunday at the Georgia Dome:

What it means: This was much more significant than a run-of-the-mill December victory for a team that already has clinched the NFC South title and a spot in the playoffs. This was a statement game for the 12-2 Falcons. A week after playing a horrible game against Carolina, they bounced back with their best outing of the season. They also did it against the team that bounced them from the playoffs last season, and they did it in a very convincing manner.

What I liked: Everything. Critics have ripped the Falcons for not putting together a complete game and, oftentimes, playing just well enough to win. Well, this one was different. The Falcons were pretty much flawless. They ran and passed the ball well on offense. The defense intercepted Eli Manning twice early in the game and came through with some big stops.

Stat of the day: The shutout marked the first time the Giants have been held scoreless in a regular-season game with Manning as their quarterback.

Busting a myth: There are a lot of people out there who say Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan can’t throw the deep ball. I always have disputed that claim. And Ryan gave me some more evidence to work with. If you haven’t seen his 40-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones, please go watch the replay. It should be on all of the highlight shows.

Super omen? Speaking of Jones, he went for more than 1,000 receiving yards for the season on Sunday. Teammate Roddy White already was past the 1,000-yard mark. They are the first Atlanta duo to post 1,000 receiving yards in the same season since Terance Mathis and Tony Martin in the 1998 season. In case you don't remember, that's the season the Falcons made it to the Super Bowl for the only time in franchise history.

Pro Bowl bound? Very quietly, Atlanta free safety Thomas DeCoud has emerged as a force. He intercepted Manning in the first half. That gives DeCoud six interceptions on the season. The fifth-year player should get strong consideration for a spot on the NFC Pro Bowl team.

What’s next: The Falcons face a bit of a short week. They play the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Saturday night.

Final Word: NFC South

December, 14, 2012
12/14/12
1:30
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about the Week 15 games:

Good news/bad news: Coming off a loss to the Carolina Panthers, the Atlanta Falcons can take solace in the fact they’ve won their previous 11 games immediately after a loss. The Falcons have not lost back-to-back games since 2009. They also are playing in the Georgia Dome, where they’ve won 10 straight games (the NFL’s longest active home winning streak). So everything appears to be in Atlanta’s favor. Until you consider this -- the Falcons have not won a home game against the New York Giants since 1978.

[+] EnlargeJulio Jones
Josh D. Weiss/US PresswireWith three more receiving yards Julio Jones will reach 1,000 yards for the season.
Terrific tandems: The meeting between the Falcons and Giants will feature the two most prolific pairs of wide receivers in the NFL since the start of the 2011 season. In that span, Atlanta’s Roddy White and Julio Jones have combined for 4,392 receiving yards, while New York’s Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks have combined for 4,384 yards. By the way, Jones needs only three receiving yards to reach 1,000 for the season. That would make Jones and White the first pair of Atlanta receivers to hit 1,000 yards since Tony Martin and Terance Mathis in 1998.

A record they don’t want: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are allowing 311.6 passing yards per game. At that pace, they would give up 4,986 passing yards by the end of the season, which would be an NFL record. The current record was set last season when the Green Bay Packers gave up 4,796 yards.

A record he doesn’t want: New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees leads the league with 32 touchdown passes and is tied with Andrew Luck for the league lead with 18 interceptions. Since 1970, Lynn Dickey (1983) and Brian Sipe (1979) are the only quarterbacks to lead the league in both touchdowns and interceptions.

Intentional grounding: The Carolina Panthers have been making the most of quarterback Cam Newton's running ability. He leads the team with 640 rushing yards. The last quarterback to finish a season as his team’s leading rusher was Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb in 2000.

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