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Monday, December 2, 2013
Upon Further Review: Falcons Week 13

By Vaughn McClure

A review of four hot issues from the Atlanta Falcons' 34-31 overtime win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at Toronto's Rogers Centre:

Ryan
Ryan
Jackson
In the running: The Falcons were able to balance things on offense with a solid rushing attack. Steven Jackson led the way with 84 yards on 23 carries as the Falcons rushed for 151 yards, 1 yard shy of their season high. Jackson credited offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. "I'm definitely in my rhythm now,'' Jackson said. "[Koetter] is allowing me to get multiple touches. He's allowing me to stay in the rhythm of the game. And that's when I feel at home. That's when I feel that I'm at my best. And the offensive line is doing a good job of getting me some push, giving me some options.'' Not to mention Jackson got help from small wonder Antone Smith, who turned his one carry into a 38-yard touchdown. "I'm very happy for him,'' Jackson said of Smith. "He comes in there and makes it look easy.''

Stumbling and bumbling: Matt Ryan completed 28 of 47 passes for 311 yards and a touchdown. Plus he connected with Harry Douglas for a 20-yard gain in overtime to set up Matt Bryant's game-winning 36-yard field goal. But Ryan also had a few uncharacteristic missteps, like when he stumbled dropping back while at the goal line and when he had a fumbled exchange with center Joe Hawley. The latter was recovered by Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso, setting up a Buffalo touchdown. Ryan was asked what happened on the exchange. "We just weren't on the same page, for whatever reason,'' Ryan said without going into detail.

On the line: As Jackson noted, the offensive line did a nice job clearing some holes in the run game. But once again, there was too much pressure on Ryan, who was sacked a season-high six times. One of those, of course, was when he stumbled. Some of the others, however, could have been avoided with better protection up front. On one play, the Bills ran a stunt that seemed to confuse left tackle Lamar Holmes and left guard Justin Blalock. When Ryan got sacked by Mario Williams early in the fourth quarter, it knocked the Falcons out of field goal range. The coaches made some tweaks along the line, like giving rookie Ryan Schraeder more playing time as the extra tackle and allowing him to spell Jeremy Trueblood at right tackle. More tinkering obviously is needed or else Ryan might not finish the season.

Hit list: William Moore got flagged for another illegal hit, this time for what the official called a high hit on Bills wide receiver Robert Woods. Moore already has been fined $74,550 for four illegal hits this season, according to NFL records. Considering how Titans safety Michael Griffin recently was suspended one game for repeated illegal hits, one has to wonder if Moore could face the same punishment now. As for the latest violation, Moore really had no explanation. "As every other hit, I don't know until I watch it on film,'' Moore said. "Y'all seen it better than I did. I didn't watch replay. It's just happened so quick. And I guess I got to go appeal it, as every other one.'' The hit didn't take away from Moore's late-game heroics, as his forced fumble in overtime paved the way for the Falcons' first road win of the season.