The Atlanta Falcons take on the Arizona Cardinals in their Salute to Service game in Week 12 at the Georgia Dome. Check out these photos from gameday.
CBs Step Up:Without the services of Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, Jalen Collins and Brian Poole rose to the occasion at cornerback, holding Carson Palmer to a 55.55 completion percentage and 289 passing yards on 45 attempts. Poole notched a big stop at the line of scrimmage in the first half and added a sack later on; Alford fared well in coverage; and Collins, in addition to thwarting a two-point conversion try, made arguably the biggest play of his Falcons career when he broke up a pass on fourth and 7, helping the Falcons maintain a two-possession lead.
"I feel like we performed good," Alford said about Atlanta's CBs. "I feel like we went out there and we executed the way we practiced this week. That's the main emphasis: You practice how you play. And that shows on the field."
Gabriel Goes Off Again: Taylor Gabriel's two touchdowns were the fourth and fifth he's recorded in the last four games. Both came on screen passes: His first was a 35 yarder, during which he weaved his way around a group of Cardinals to find the goal line; his second, a 25-yard sprint, was a similar highlight. Combine those scores with his 47-yard TD vs. Green Bay and 76-yard TD at Philadelphia, and he's averaging 45.75 yards per touchdown catch this year. (He also scored from nine yards out in Tampa Bay on a rushing call.)
The 5-foot-8 WR finished Sunday's contest with a team-high 102 yards from scrimmage — 75 through the air, 27 on the ground.
"It's been crazy, man, just to be a part of a winning team and see how much of a brotherhood this is," he said. "We've come together, man. I love it. I love being here, and I love the opportunity that they gave me to show my talents. So, I'm glad to be here, man."
RBs Find Pay Dirt: Devonta Freeman opened up the scoring for Atlanta with a one-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Then, with 2:37 remaining in the fourth, he put the Falcons up by 19 with a five-yard score that all but sealed a victory. Freeman now has 23 TDs as a pro — tying him with T.J. Duckett for the second-most among Falcons during their first three years in the league, according to Pro Football Reference.
Coleman found the end zone, too, scoring from two yards out with 2:56 left in the third quarter. Together, Freeman and Coleman tallied 90 yards from scrimmage and have 14 touchdowns in 2016.
"It's an important part for us," head coach Dan Quinn said about the RB duo. "We certainly missed (Coleman) the last few weeks. … He's another weapon on the offense. The speed and the ability to make a cut and try to accelerate and try to break an angle down (facing) a safety or a linebacker. Man, was he ready to get back. He worked hard during the rehab process to get ready, and I was pleased with his performance today."
Ryan Spreads the Ball Around: Matt Ryan had a strong performance, completing 26 of 34 passes for 269 yards, two touchdowns and an interception off a tipped throw. Like many times this year, Ryan succeeded by spreading the wealth: Eight different Falcons registered a catch, seven had two or more receptions and four gained 35-plus receiving yards.
"Just everybody being here, man, we have playmakers of all aspects. Running backs lining up at receiver and things like that," Gabriel said. "Kyle Shanahan, him just doing the game plan — without him, without our whole offensive staff, we wouldn't be doing what we're doing."
Wile Shines at Punter: Filling in for the injured Matt Bosher, Matt Wile, signed on Nov. 22, was stellar in his NFL debut. The former Michigan Wolverine registered punts of 57 and 59 yards — both of which were caught in the air. What's more, all seven of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks.
"We were really pleased with Matt," Quinn said. "He did a nice job on his first time."