Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/21/11

         The Atlanta Falcons got back to their winning ways yesterday, beating the Tennessee Titans by a score of 23-17. Atlanta got the scoring going early in the first quarter when quarterback Matt Ryan hit tight end Tony Gonzalez for a 17-yard touchdown, giving the team a 7-0 advantage with 10:41 left in the first. Two second quarter field goals by Matt Bryant gave the Falcons a commanding 13-0 lead, but the Titans’ Rob Bironas hit a 46-yard field goal at the end of the half to cut Tennessee’s deficit to 13-3.

          It looked like smooth sailing for Atlanta in the second half, as a 4 yard touchdown run by Michael Turner followed by a 24-yard field goal by Matt Bryant gave the Birds a 23-3 lead over the Titans. However, rookie quarterback Jake Locker, who came in for the injured Matt Hasselbeck, provided a spark Tennessee obviously needed. Locker’s first NFL drive was a successful one, as the Titans went 48 yards in 3 plays, with the last being a 40-yard touchdown pass from Locker to Nate Washington, putting the score at 23-10. Locker wasn’t done there either, as Atlanta’s inability to score in the fourth quarter kept the game close enough that a 14 play, 84 yard drive that ended with Locker’s second connection with Washington for a touchdown made this one a ballgame again. Thankfully for Atlanta, the offense got going just enough to run out the rest of the clock, allowing the Falcons to win the game 23-17, their 6th win of the season.

           Even though a win is a win, the Atlanta Falcons have many adjustments that need to be made in order to stay in the playoff hunt. The pass defense is the number one concern for this squad, as rookie Jake Locker dissected this defense like a grizzled vet, throwing for 140 yards and two touchdowns off the bench. The stability of the offense, especially when the second half rolls around, has become a major issue this season, a disadvantage that can ruin any team’s chances of dreaming of playing in January and February. This was the type of game that the Falcons should have won by at least two touchdowns, but at least they can say that they were able to keep up with the NFC South leading Saints with the win.

            Next Sunday the Falcons take on the Minnesota Vikings in the Georgia Dome. The Vikings, who just two short years ago were in the NFC Championship Game, are the laughingstock of the NFC this season, currently sitting at 2-8 after a 27-21 loss to the Oakland Raiders yesterday. While most would assume that the Falcons will win this one easily, the chances of Minnesota making this a game all ride on the ankle of Adrian Peterson. Peterson, who left the Vikings’ game yesterday with an injury to his ankle, is considered questionable at this point for the game on Sunday; if he is in fact out for this one, you can bet that the Falcons will move their record to 7-4.

Peterson's status for Sunday is crucial in terms of how good the game will actually be

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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