Atlanta wins its fourth straight game as it improved to 4-1 on the season. The win was also the Falcons' second straight road victory.
With a 20-10 win over the Cleveland Browns, the Falcons have put together a four-game winning streak for the first time under head coach Mike Smith. After dropping the season opener in overtime to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta has rattled off wins over Arizona, New Orleans, San Francisco and Cleveland to improve to 4-1. The Falcons 4-1 start marks the second consecutive year that the Falcons have opened the season with four wins in their first five games.
Smith has a great deal of familiarity with the AFC after spending nine years coaching in Baltimore and Jacksonville. Since becoming Atlanta's head coach in 2008, the Falcons own a 7-3 record against AFC opponents.
The Falcons entered the fourth quarter with a three point lead, marking the 21st time the team has taken a lead into the final quarter in the past three seasons. Under Smith, Atlanta owns a 20-1 record in games that it takes a lead into the fourth quarter.
DE Kroy Biermann couldn't have chosen a better time to record his first career interception. With the Falcons leading by a slim three-point margin, 13-10, in the fourth quarter, Biermann tipped and caught pass from Browns QB Jake Delhomme and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown. After K Matt Bryant added the extra point, the Falcons pushed their lead to 20-10 and hung on for the win. The interception was the first of Biermann's career and the second time he's found the endzone. The third-year pro scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery against New Orleans on Nov. 2, 2009. Biermann finished the game with three total tackles (one solo), one quarterback hit and one interception.
Following Biermann's defensive touchdown, the Browns faced a 10-point deficit with 3:55 remaining in the game. Delhomme drove Cleveland down to the Falcons 17-yard line before LB Stephen Nicholas sealed the game for Atlanta when he intercepted Delhomme's pass intended for WR Chansi Stuckey. The Falcons then ran out the clock to improve their record to 4-1. Atlanta also improved its record to 14-1 when winning the turnover battle after recording three takeaways and one giveaway.
DE John Abraham dragged Browns QB Seneca Wallace down in the backfield in the first quarter. With that sack, Abraham posted his 39th sack as a Falcons player, passing Don Smith (38.5) for sixth in franchise history. Abraham has now recorded 11.5 sacks in his past 10 games against AFC opponents.
Abraham added his second sack of the game in the final minute of the second half, when he brought down Wallace on second down for a 9-yard loss. In his career, Abraham's teams are 16-5 when he records two or more sacks. Since coming to Atlanta in 2006, the Falcons are 8-1 in such games. Wallace suffered a sprained ankle on his second sack, which forced the Browns to use their final time out of the half. On the next play, Delhomme completed a pass to Stuckey with 25 seconds remaining. Abraham tackled Stuckey before he could get to the sideline, causing the clock to run out and preventing the Browns from getting into field goal position.
On the game's opening drive, DT Jonathan Babineaux stripped Browns RB Peyton Hillis. S William Moore scooped up the loose ball, giving the Falcons the ball on the Cleveland 47-yard line. Moore has contributed with two interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery since taking over the starting role for S Erik Coleman. In 2010, the Falcons have scored 36 points on their 13 takeaways.
Trailing 10-6 in the third quarter, QB Matt Ryan hit WR Roddy White for a 45-yard touchdown. The scoring strike marked the eighth time the duo has hooked up for a 40-plus yard completion and the sixth time they have combined for a touchdown of 40 or more yards in the past three seasons.
White finishing the game with 101 yards on five catches, marking his second consecutive 100-yard game and his third of the season. In his last three games against AFC opponents, White has caught 26 passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns.
After tallying 100-plus yards in three games this season, White has improved his own franchise record for 100-yard receiving games. White now has a franchise-best 21 100-yard receiving games in his career. Of those 21 games, 14 have come since 2008.
Falcons RB Michael Turner rolled off his longest run of the season, with a 55-yard scamper in the second quarter. Turner finished the game with 140 yards on 19 carries, marking the first time this season that the Browns have allowed a 100-yard rusher. Dating back to 2009, the Browns had gone six straight games without allowing a 100-yard rusher. It was also the second time in 2010 that Turner has gone over the century mark. Since 2008, Turner has averaged 92.3 yards per game, which ranks third in the NFL during that time.
DE Jamaal Anderson notched his first sack of the season, bringing down Delhomme for a 10-yard loss in the third quarter. Anderson's sack gave the Falcons three on the day and marked the fourth time the team has notched two or more sacks this season.
In tightly played games, field position is often one of the major factors in determining the outcome. P Michael Koenen booted averaged 43.3 (37.5 net) yards on four punts, dropping two inside the Browns 20-yard line and a third into the endzone for a touchback. In 2010, the Falcons rank among the league leaders in opponent's starting position. In their win over the Browns, Atlanta allowed Cleveland to start possessions beyond their own 25-yard line just three times on 11 possessions.