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First Half Defense Keeps Falcons In Game


In what can only be described as "strange," the Falcons' first half could have been much worse than it actually was. Despite all the strange, unusual and often ugly, the Falcons stepped off the field at the end of the first half with a 16-16 tie.

Matt Ryan threw three first quarter interceptions and was sacked once, but Atlanta's defense kept things close, keeping the Cardinals from gaining multiple touchdowns to add to their lead. Arizona turned the three Ryan interceptions into a touchdown and two field goals, carried mostly by the running game.

LaRod Stephens-Howling had 58 first quarter rushing yards, but starting QB John Skelton only managed six passing yards and rookie backup QB Ryan Lindley was inserted into the game in the second quarter.

The defense continued to swarm, turning a John Abraham sack and strip on Lindley's second drop back of the game into a score. The ball popped out on the seven-yard loss and Jonathan Babineaux recovered the fumble and returned it 15 yards for Atlanta's second score of the game.

After being shut out of the first quarter, the Falcons responded with 13 points of their own in the second, tying up the game with a 28-yard field goal after a 10-play, 81-yard drive by Ryan and company in which Roddy White caught three passes for 72 yards. White ended the half with five catches for 98 yards.

Atlanta's run defense has continued to struggle, but they've managed to keep Arizona's big plays to a minimum on the ground. Of the Cardinals' 130 yards of first half offense, 112 have come on the ground and 18 came from passes.

The Falcons defense didn't allow the Cardinals a third-down conversion in seven attempts and Lindley was 2-for-7 for 18 yards passing in the first half.

Atlanta responded to a late Cardinals field goal with one of their own, driving down the field 50 yards in 32 seconds. Matt Bryant hit his third field goal on the day, a 48-yarder to tie the game.

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