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Taking to the Air


Combustible Corps

The word "explosive" will come up on many occasions this season, as it already has been plenty of times since the end of the 2010 season, so we might as well get used to it. It's the perfect word to describe the Falcons' wide receiving corps Saturday night. No. 1 receiver Roddy White eclipsed the 100 yards receiving mark, and in a game that is as close to a regular season game as you'll see before the regular season, that bodes well. But also big on the stat line were Julio Jones and Harry Douglas. Each made some nice plays and picked up good yardage, almost combining for 100 yards in the game. That would have been more if Jones and quarterback Matt Ryan could have connected on a very long, very deep pass that just barely bounced out of Jones' grasp.

Forty-Two by Air

If there was any doubt, the Falcons put it to rest Saturday night: They have no fear in airing it out. Ryan got plenty of work in the passing game against the Steelers, throwing an amazing 42 passes in the first half. To put that into perspective, he threw 52 against the Baltimore Ravens last year — in the entire game. Ryan completed 22 of his passes Saturday night and was able to spread the ball around to six different receivers before hitting the bench after halftime.

Goal Line Strong

The Falcons have put together some great goal line stands in recent memory, most notably against Baltimore last season. They had a great one against Pittsburgh on Saturday. Ryan had a pass deflected and intercepted by Steelers LB Lawrence Timmons, who returned it inside the Falcons' 5-yard line (thanks to a great hustle and tackle made by Douglas, by the way). The Steelers went three-and-out and were stuffed by Jonathan Babineaux on their final attempt at the end zone on the drive.

Big-Play Day

The Falcons were done in by Pittsburgh's ability to make the big plays the Falcons have been searching for. From the opening kickoff that saw the Steelers start off deep in Falcons territory to Timmons' interception to 77- and 44-yard touchdown catches by Antonio Brown to a 95-yard interception return for a touchdown off a Chris Redman pass in the fourth quarter, big plays were the Falcons' Achilles heel Saturday night.

Sack Attack

A lot of attention was on the debut of defensive end Ray Edwards in a Falcons uniform Saturday night, and while he didn't do much in the stat line, his presence alone could be helping the Falcons get more pressure. Vance Walker and Babineaux each had big sacks in Saturday night's loss, and the defensive front — as a whole — looked to be generating a lot more pressure against Pittsburgh.

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