Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 12/5/11
The Falcons are still working on the timing of the deep passing game. The Falcons, who had won five of the last six before losing to the Texans Sunday, were working their short and intermediate passing game well. But to loosen up the Texans whey wanted to throw it deep. Against Carolina, the Falcons will need to figure out their full passing attack before they run the risk of falling further behind the New Orleans Saints and in the NFC wild-card race. The Panthers have traditionally played the Falcons tough and might be emboldened from a win over Tampa Bay. Wide receiver Roddy White was targeted on 15 passes and caught four for 51 yards against Houston. Julio Jones was targeted on 11 passes and caught four for 68 yards. Jones was called for an illegal touching call later in the game. "I thought it was defensive pass interference," Jones said. "I still caught the ball, and I didn't feel like I went out of bounds." Jones was the target on the last play of the game. If he had hauled down a Ryan pass for a 30-yard touchdown, the game would have likely gone to overtime. "You put any receiver in that position, and you'll know you should have made that play," Jones said. "I think about stuff I could have done differently, but that's football." With the Falcons attempting to throw deep passes early, they did not have tight end Tony Gonzalez featured. But after the deep passes didn't work and the Texans were laying some wood on Turner, Ryan started to lean on Gonzalez. "Tony made some big plays for us in the middle of the field," Ryan said. "Although we didn't hit those plays, we backed their safeties off little bit in the passing game and that opened things up for Tony and he did a great job of moving us down the field." Gonzalez finished with seven catches for 100 yards. He improved his NFL record for consecutive 60-catch seasons. Jerry Rice did it for 11 seasons. By going over the 60-catch mark, Gonzalez now has 13 seasons with 60 or more receptions. NOTES, QUOTES LINEUP WATCH: On his 32-yard interception return, linebacker Mike Peterson made a couple of nice moves to get to the end zone. The play was nullified by cornerback Dunta Robinson's holding penalty. "I tell these guys all the time, I played quarterback in high school," Peterson said. "Once, I get the ball in my hands, I'm no stranger to that. I know what to do." Peterson, who started for the injured Stephen Nicholas, had 10 tackles and one pass defensed. UNDER THE RADAR: The Falcons are in the most difficult spot in Matt Ryan's four years. They are in danger of not making the playoffs while he's healthy for the first time in four seasons. "This is the time of the year where it gets hard," Ryan said. "This is the time of the year where it gets fun, too. We are right in the mix of things ... It's going to be important for us, through thick and thin, to stay together. I think our team will. We've got a great locker room. I think that's going to give us a chance." STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL MLB Curtis Lofton led the Falcons in tackles with 11 against the Texans. SS James Sanders had 10 tackles against the Texans. FS Thomas DeCoud had 10 tackles against the Texans. RB Michael Turner came into the game against the Houston Texans needing 52 yards to register the third 1,000-yard season of his career. Next week, when the Falcons face the Carolina Panthers, Turner will need eight more yards after the Houston Texans held him to 44 yards on 14 carries in their 17-10 victory on Sunday. QB Matt Ryan is now 8-9 as a starter on grass fields.
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