First Quarter:The Falcons got to work quickly against the Titans, forcing a three-and-out on Tennessee's first possession and turning that defensive stand into a six-play touchdown drive. Quarterback Matt Ryan connected with tight end Tony Gonzalez for a 17-yard touchdown, Gonzalez' 95th touchdown catch of his career. Michael Turner paced the offense on the first drive with 19 yards before Ryan turned to the tight end for three straight passes. Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux had two tackles for loss on Tennesse's running back, Chris Johnson, and Atlanta's entire defense held the Titans to only three yards rushing. Cornerback Dunta Robinson intercepted his first pass of the season on Tennessee's second drive.
Second Quarter:The second quarter showed more positive movement by Atlanta's offense, but no more touchdowns. Twice the Falcons found themselves inside the redzone, but gained only two field goals. Cornerback Brent Grimes came away with two near interceptions, breaking up Matt Hasselbeck passes. One of the most impressive plays of the half came on a 35-yard run from Turner. On the way up the field, Turner broke a few tackles before running over Titans safety Michael Griffin and then brought down by Cortland Finnegan. The Titans closed out the half with a field goal to chip away the Falcons' lead to 13-3. Turner headed into halftime with ten rushes for 73 yards.
Third Quarter:Atlanta came out gunning for the endzone in the third quarter, opening the half with a seven play, 80-yard drive that ended with a four-yard touchdown run from Turner. Along the way in that drive, wide receiver Roddy White came alive, catching a 43-yard pass from Ryan. The touchdown put the Falcons up 20-3. Atlanta scored again on their next drive, led by another big catch from White, a 32-yarder. White's catch put the Falcons inside the Tennessee ten-yard line, but could only come away with a field goal. Tennessee replaced starting their quarterback with rookie Jake Locker. Hasselbeck left the game with an elbow injury. Three plays later Locker found the endzone on a 40-yard strike. After a tough start to his season, White used the third quarter to find his rhythm, eclipsing the 100-yard mark with 123 yards on six catches.
Fourth Quarter:On the second Falcons drive of the quarter, Turner fumbled on the Tennessee seven. The Titans pieced together a long drive that ended with a four-yard touchdown to make the score 23-17. Needing to put together a drive to end the game, the Falcons turned to Turner immediately and he broke off a 27-yard run on the first play of the drive. Three plays later the Falcons faced a third-and-6, needing a conversion to allow the clock to run down. Ryan found Harry Douglas across the middle of the field for a 6-yard gain. The conversion allowed the Falcons to operate out of the Victory Formation as the game clock ticked down to zero.
Play of the Game:With a 13-3 lead, the Falcons opened up the second half with a touchdown drive. While the drive was capped with Turner's 4-yard touchdown run, the key play in the drive was the 43-yard reception from White. The deep pass connection from Ryan to White put the Falcons inside Tennessee's 20-yard line and three plays later Turner punched it in to extend Atlanta's lead.
*Player of the Game: *Roddy White's season hasn't gone as expected, but on Sunday he played what may be his best game of the season. With the Falcons missing the services of Julio Jones, White came through in the clutch. His third quarter was huge, three catches for 98 yards, and he was integral in moving the chains in big chunks throughout the game. He ended the day with seven catches for 147 yards, a season high. His average of 21 yards per catch shows just how big he was in the win.
Turning Point:Because of the late Titans touchdown to draw to within six points, the Falcons needed to put together a drive to end the game. After a 27-yard run by Turner, the Falcons found themselves in a third-and-6 situation, needing a conversion to end the game. Ryan found Harry Douglas across the middle of the field for exactly 6 yards. The catch gave the Falcons the first down they needed and Ryan took a knee on the resulting downs as the clock wound down.
Stat of the Game:41. The Falcons only allowed 41 yards rushing from the Titans, including only 13 from Chris Johnson. Atlanta, ranked third in run defense in the NFL, extending their streak to 13 straight games not allowing a 100-yard rusher. The Titans averaged 2.9 yards rushing and the lack of a running game made then unbalanced in their game plan. Tennessee's rushing attack was lead by quarterback Hasselbeck, who gained 17 yards on a single scramble.
Tweet of the Game:In an ironic twist, the Falcons faced a number of fourth-and-1 situations, including some in favorable field position. After Week 10's fourth-and-1 call in overtime against the Saints failed, Smith went for field goals on fourth downs until the third quarter. On Tennesse's 36-yard line, the Falcons went for it on fourth-and-1 and used a QB sneak to get the needed yards. Smith was seen grinning on the sideline, proud of his team's conversion. It prompted Falcons fan @Ryan_C_Brown to share this thought on Twitter (courtesy of his wife): "My Wife: 'Mike Smith has the best proud dad look.'"
Quote of the Day:Atlanta's strong run defense showed itself again on Sunday, slowing Johnson and the Titans. Sean Weatherspoon was a factor in stopping the run, as he has been all season. The linebacker said it was a total team effort to stop the running game from Tennessee: "He's a great back. They couldn't get it going today on the run. I'd say we did a good job stepping up and filling gaps. Our defensive linemen were working well. Safeties were coming down figuring the run, corners too. We did a great job of just corralling."