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Defense Comes Through In Ugly Win

Posted Nov 18, 2012

Not much was pretty about Atlanta's ninth win of the season. On a day when the offense struggled mightily, Atlanta's D did everything necessary to get a W.

The Falcons have seen some unusual games at home this season, to the break-out performance of the pass defense in Week 2 against Denver to the surprising comeback needed against Oakland, but Sunday's 23-19 win over the Cardinals takes the cake.

The first half was strange enough and things didn't get any better in the second. Two trends from the first half continued late into the game: the touchdown drought didn't end and the Falcons defense continued to step up.

For the first time in Matt Ryan's career, he threw five interceptions, but the Cardinals were only able to come away with four field goals in addition to their first quarter touchdown run by LaRod Stephens-Howling. Atlanta's defense held the Cardinals to two of 16 on third down. The Cardinals were able to do little on offense even after they replaced their QB with backup rookie Ryan Lindley.

Atlanta's six total turnovers against the Cardinals is the first time in 13 years the Falcons have committed that number of giveaways.

Atlanta's defense truly kept the Falcons in what was an ugly game, sacking Lindley three times and hitting him multiple additional times.

One of the areas of concern lately for the Falcons, the short-yardage ground game, gave the Falcons the lead midway through the fourth quarter when Michael Turner finished off a seven-play, 70-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run. Clinging to a 23-19 lead, the Falcons forced a three-and-out, but the offense gave it back to Arizona again.

Ryan's final interception on the day gave the Cardinals one final breath of life, but as they did all day, the defense bailed them out once again.

On their own 32-yard line, Atlanta forced a fourth-and-2 at 3:13 remaining in the game. A deep pass to the endzone targeted at Larry Fitzgerald fell incomplete with Dunta Robinson in coverage and the Falcons picked up the ball on downs.

A 6-yard run by Jacquizz Rodgers just before the two-minute warning gave the Falcons a first down and they were able to escape with their fifth home win of the season, improving to 9-1.

Atlanta's defense was strong in the winning effort, covering up the offense's inability to generate much scoring. They held Arizona to 178 yards of offense, 137 on the ground and 41 through the air.

John Abraham led the defensive effort with two sacks, giving him nine on the season. In a strong effort of his own, Robert McClain led the team with seven tackles.