- Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer
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Backing the quarterback: Tight end Tony Gonzalez expressed support for his quarterback after Matt Ryan's three-interception performance against the Panthers, including one pick that was returned for a touchdown. "I know Matt," Gonzalez said. "He's a diligent person. He's going to look at this film. He’s going obsess over it. And he’s going to make improvements. He's the leader of our team, and we still trust him to the fullest. And he’s going to take us where we want to go, hopefully. I have no doubt that he'll bounce back from this and come out and play a lot better." By the way, Gonzalez caught a pass in his 203rd consecutive game and also had his team's only touchdown.
Wounded warriors: Cornerback Asante Samuel had blood trickling from his right knee as he slouched at his locker. But the concern about Samuel had more to do with the head injury that knocked him out of action for a bit on Sunday. He returned to the game. "I wasn’t really scared about a concussion," Samuel said as he exited the locker room wearing shades. "It's part of football. Banged my head. Life goes on.’’ Defensive tackle Corey Peters, who returned to action after exiting with a left knee injury, said he is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday.
Young guns: Rookie cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford both had interceptions. Second-year defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi had a half-sack. And undrafted rookie Paul Worrilow had a team-leading 19 tackles. It all equaled a pretty strong performance by some of the young and up-and-coming Falcons, although Alford was mad at himself for not coming up with a key recovery after a forced fumble by Samuel. "I just went to jump on it, went to grab on it, and it got [out] from under me," Alford said. At least the young players are seizing the opportunity to improve week to week.
Roddy sighting: Roddy White put on his dress clothes after getting dressed up during warm-ups with nowhere to go. He was inactive for the third straight game coming off hamstring and ankle injuries. White ran some routes before the game but went back to the locker room after discussing his status with head coach Mike Smith and receivers coach Terry Robiskie. "I'm not going to speculate in terms of our injured players with Roddy," Smith said. "We did work Roddy out before the game. We made a decision that we felt like it was in the best interest for Roddy and our football team, long term, not to go."