Behind Enemy Lines Week 13: Atlanta Falcons
Nov 29, 2014, 4:38 PM | Updated: Nov 30, 2014, 5:52 pm
It may have been the Seattle Seahawks’ home-field advantage or just a frustrated team getting back to physical, hard-nosed football, but the Arizona Cardinals ran into a buzzsaw last week.
The Cardinals went on the road and lost 19-3 to the Seahawks, dropping Arizona’s record to 9-2 and shrinking their NFC West lead to two games. The Cardinals recorded a season-high seven sacks, but could have had many more if not for Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson’s Houdini-like tricks to avoid the pass rush. The offense may be more to blame for the loss, mustering a season-low 204 total yards.
The Cardinals travel to Atlanta this week to take on the Falcons, who are 4-7 overall but are winless against teams outside the NFC South.
The Falcons are coming off of a 26-24 loss to the Cleveland Browns that can be chalked up to some poor late-game time management by coach Mike Smith. The loss ended a two-game winning streak for Atlanta, although didn’t affect their first-place standing in an NFC South that is yet to provide a team that looks worthy of the division’s automatic playoff berth.
As both teams get ready for Sunday’s matchup and attempt to bounce back from their defeats, we’ll go behind enemy lines and bring all the news from the Falcons:
Saturday, November 29
• Falcons must beware an opportunistic Cardinals defense (The Falcoholic)
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has struggled with turnovers in his last two games against the Cardinals — throwing nine interceptions. More than 10 percent of Ryan’s career interceptions have come in those two games against Arizona.
Friday, November 28
• WR White questionable for Sunday vs. Cards (AtlantaFalcons.com)
Wide receiver Roddy White did not return to the practice field Friday after being sidelined with an ankle injury Wednesday and Thursday, and he’s questionable for Sunday’s game against Arizona.
• Safety Moore returns to active roster (AtlantaFalcons.com)
The Atlanta Falcons today announced that they have activated safety William Moore from injured reserve designated for return and waived tackle Cameron Bradfield.
• Behind the Facebook: Prince Shembo (AtlantaFalcons.com)
Football wasn’t the first sport LB Prince Shembo considered going pro in. Find out about his love for basketball and more in this week’s Behind the Facemask.
With all due respect to Kemal Ishmael, Atlanta Falcons free safety Dwight Lowery was eager to see William Moore return to the lineup.
Thursday, November 27
• White, Soliai out during Thursday’s practice (AtlantaFalcons.com)
WR Roddy White (ankle) and DT Paul Soliai (not injury-related) were among non-participants in practice Thursday, their second straight day with the designation on the Falcons’ injury report.
Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson faced Falcons receiver Julio Jones in college when Peterson was at LSU and Jones at Alabama, so they have had their share of showdowns in the past.
• Falcons injury report: Douglas back (AJC.com)
Falcons wide receiver Harry Douglas (foot injury) returned to practice and tackle Jonathan Scott (hamstring) fully participated in practice for the first time in three weeks on Thursday.
• Ryan set to face Cardinals’ tough defense (AJC.com)
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is getting ready for a chess match with Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.
• Cards defense still strong without key players (AJC.com)
The Cardinals had one of the best defensive units in the NFL In 2013 and they’ve managed to keep it going in spite of losing their best linebacker, pass rusher and interior defensive lineman.
Wednesday, November 26
• Moore hoping to contribute in possible return (AtlantaFalcons.com)
Atlanta Falcons safety William Moore, you may remember him from HBO’s Hard Knocks, has been sidelined with a shoulder injury he sustained in Week 4. He is eligible to come off the injured reserve designation to return list this weekend against the Cardinals. Moore hopes to play and contribute right away.
• Will Bowles be auditioning for Falcons? (AJC.com)
The Falcons’ front office may be watching Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles very closely on Sunday, as they ponder the possibility of finding a new head coach at season’s end. Atlanta ranks dead last in the NFL in yards allowed per game (409.9).
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan did not have a good game last Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. He especially struggled with passing to his top receiver, Julio Jones. However, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter appreciates the way Ryan owns up to his mistakes and prepares for games, which is why he isn’t concerned.
• Falcons serve up smiles, meals for Thanksgiving (AtlantaFalcons.com)
Every year, both veterans and rookies for the Falcons volunteer at an Atlanta ministry Thanksgiving week, serving meals to those who need them. With the team’s help, over 300 people received a hot meal along with a knitted Falcons beanie, handed out by defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi.
The Falcons are not having the best of seasons this year, currently sitting at a 4-7 record. Luckily for them, no one else in their division is having a good year, either. There is a 63 percent chance the winner of the NFC South has a losing record. For the Falcons, who have three tough games coming up, the playoffs are not out of the question.
Tuesday, November 25
With the Falcons driving and attempting to get in position for a potential game-winning field goal, Falcons coach Mike Smith called a timeout that ultimately benefited the Browns in their game-winning score. In a news conference on Monday, Smith apologized for the timeout and some poor play-calls that contributed to the loss.
The Browns got the ball down by one with less than a minute in the game and Atlanta’s defensive backs just had to keep Cleveland from passing into field-goal range. But after Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer completed four passes to set up the winning score, the Falcons’ secondary is not making excuses for their mistakes.
With a third-and-2 and a minute to go, the Falcons could have made the safe call, trying to get the first down on the ground and at the very least costing Cleveland a time out. Atlanta instead chose a failed deep pass that stopped the clock and gave Cleveland the opportunity they needed to win the game.
• S Moore honors teammate with jersey number (AtlantaFalcons.com)
The number may not get much attention during the game, but for Falcons safety William Moore, the 25 emblazoned on his jersey represents a lost brotherhood. After the death of his best friend and teammate at the University of Missouri, Moore wears the number to keep that friendship alive every time he steps on the field.