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Sunday, November 20, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Falcons 23, Titans 17

By Pat Yasinskas


Thoughts on the Atlanta Falcons’ 23-17 victory against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

What it means: The Falcons did a great job of bouncing back from last week’s devastating loss to New Orleans. It was the kind of loss that could have sent their season into free fall, but that didn’t happen. Coach Mike Smith had his team ready, and the Falcons played one of their most complete games of the season. They’re 6-4 and only one game behind the Saints in the win column of the NFC South standings.

Roddy’s revival: One of the things that impressed me most about receiver Roddy White the previous three seasons was his uncanny ability to bounce back from a bad play. It used to seem like every time White dropped a pass or committed a penalty, he would respond with a huge play. It was almost like, after every mistake, White was saying to Smith, “Hey, I owe you one.’’ But, for reasons I haven't been able to figure out, it hadn’t been working that way at all this season. White came into the week leading the NFL in dropped passes (eight), according to ESPN Stats & Information. White wasn’t making up for mistakes by following up with big plays. But that finally changed Sunday. Early in the third quarter, White had a Matt Ryan pass sail right through his hands. Just a few plays later, White made a great over-the-shoulder catch for a 43-yard gain. The play also provided evidence that the Falcons actually might have a downfield passing game. White finished with a season-high 147 receiving yards.

Dunta’s big play: A lot of people have been suggesting the huge free-agent contract the Falcons gave cornerback Dunta Robinson last year wasn’t a prudent move. I’ve always taken a different point of view. Robinson hasn’t come up with a lot of interceptions, but I think his presence has helped the rest of the secondary. But maybe Robinson silenced a few of his critics by coming up with an interception in the first quarter that set up a field goal. It was Robinson’s first interception of the season and only his second since joining the Falcons. Robinson also had a nice breakup on a third-down pass in the fourth quarter.

Most impressive two-play stretch: With around 11 minutes left in the third quarter, Atlanta defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux batted down Matt Hasselbeck passes on two consecutive plays. I left Babineaux off the midseason All-NFC South team, largely because he missed three games with an injury earlier in the season. But Babineaux is doing a very nice job of re-establishing himself as the division's premier defensive tackle.

What’s next: The Falcons host the Minnesota Vikings next Sunday.