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What They Said


On Atlanta's drive to take the lead in the fourth quarter, Matt Ryan converted two third-down passes to Tony Gonzalez and Harry Douglas to keep the drive going. Both were significant and Ryan talked about his two targets coming through in the clutch: "Obviously they were big plays. I can't remember the down and distance. The first one to Tony, he just ran a great route. He had man-to-man coverage had patience on the route, got his depth and came up big. The one to Harry, again, a similar type route to what we had with Tony and again, ran a really good route. He put me in a position that I could kind of lay it out there and let him run to get it. Those guys made big plays on third downs and really helped us out."

Fullback Ovie Mughelli's touchdown catch in the second quarter allowed the Falcons to take back the lead over the Panthers. A fullback's primary job is to block for the running back and they rarely have an opportunity to make a play, let alone catch a touchdown pass. Sunday's touchdown was Mughelli's sixth such reception of his career: "This is the second time I've had two touchdowns in a season, so I'm trying to get that third. It's just like we practice it. I run my route, Matt sees me, I'm open and he throws it. It was kind of high, but fullbacks don't get the ball that much, so when it's thrown anywhere in your vicinity you better catch it."

Atlanta's running game has been sputtering some this season. With the team falling behind in some games by double digits, running the ball has become something difficult to do. On Sunday, the Falcons got back to their basics, pounding the ball to the tune of 166 yards, led by Michael Turner's 139 yards. Turner said that was part of the control-the-clock plan entering the game: "I saw a lot of green as a running back today. The offensive line provided huge running lanes to make big runs. We wanted to give the team a big spark by producing a good amount of yards on the ground, and controlling the clock. We wanted to play hard for the team and I am very pleased with the performance."

Cornerback Brent Grimes delivered one of the game's big plays with his interception in the second quarter to keep the Panthers from scoring. After the game, he said the entire team did what it had to do, something they'd talked about all week. They wanted a full, four-quarter effort and to finish strong. On Sunday they were strong in the end, shutting out the Panthers' offense and putting points on the board when they had the ball: "It was huge. We had a couple of games where we would start fast, but we wouldn't finish. We talked about it all week, we need to finish strong and that's what we did today. It all came together and it was a good feeling."

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