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Gonzalez a key part of Falcons offensive attack



"I've always envisioned that since I got here," Gonzalez said. "They're going to want to stop the run and they should. [Turner]'s a phenomenal player and I think our offensive line is going to open up some holes for him and if [defenses] want to stack the box and stop him then we should hurt them.

"There's no doubt about it. You've got a guy like Matt Ryan throwing the ball, and then Roddy White, Michael Jenkins, [Brian] Finneran and [Jerious] Norwood coming out of the backfield, making big plays. And myself."

The touchdown reception represented another milestone in Gonzalez's career, which is certain to land him in the Hall of Fame. He surpassed the 11,000-yard mark, only the 21st player in NFL history to do so, and the first tight end.

Gonzalez, 33, said as he has matured over time, the importance of such records has diminished.

"I think at this point in my career, I'm doing what [Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith] said, taking it one game at a time," he said. "Maybe it was about [records] at the beginning of my career, but now that I'm at the end of my career and I see that window closing, I just want to be on a good football team and this is a good football team. But we've got a long way to go."

Said Smith: "Tony is not only going to be able to help our offense -- I've said this many times -- but he'll help our defense, our special teams. He's going to help our whole entire football team. It's great to see him wearing the black helmet with the bird on it."

Ryan said the touchdown reception was an example of the type of player that Gonzalez is. On his pre-snap read, Ryan recognized the Dolphins were going to blitz and communicated it to Gonzalez, who knew to break off his route.

"That's something that we worked on from the first day he got here, blitz communication -- obviously understanding when you've got to break hot," Ryan said. "There's not much you have to tell him. He's played for a long time. He understands protection as well as anyone I've been around."

As the season unfolds, Gonzalez figures to continue bedeviling opposing defenses.

"He's a mismatch nightmare for defenses trying to decide whether you're going to cover him with a safety, corner, linebacker, whether or not you're going to single cover him," Ryan said. "… He did a good job for us today and that's what we're going to need from all of our offensive guys from one week to another different guys' stepping up."

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