Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 11/20/11

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 15: Michael Turner #33 of the Atlanta Falcons warms up before the game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on November 15, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
ATLANTA Falcons running back Michael Turner took the ball around the left side and first broke the arm tackle of Tennessee's 6-foot-2, 241-pound linebacker Barrett Ruud. As Turner rumbled down the sideline, 6-0, 203-pound safety Michael Griffin had the misfortune to get in his way. Griffin instantly morphed into roadkill. With his residual momentum, the 247-pound Turner brushed back Cortland Finnegan, one of the league's more physical corners, for a few more yards before losing his footing and stepping out of bounds. The 35-yard, second-quarter run that culminated in a field goal, putting Turner's team up 13-0, personified Sunday's physically punishing Falcons' 23-17 over the Titans that got Atlanta back on track one week after a disheartening divisional loss. "Michael Turner, when he gets rolling downhill, there's not a whole lot to hit," Falcons head coach Mike Smith said of the 5-foot-10 Turner. "There's shoulder pads and knees. He runs behind his pads as well as any back I've ever been around and associated with. He was a man that was on a mission today, it seemed like, the way he ran the football. "He had a lot of energy out there and was very successful when he got to the second level (of the defense) and there was going to be some tough sledding. They were loading the box with eight and nine players, but Michael was able to have an effective day for us." Turner finished with 100 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries as the Falcons dominated time of possession 36:59 to 23:01 and his counterpart on the Titans' side, Chris Johnson, continued his struggles with a season-low 13 yards on 12 carries. In comparison, the Titans' two quarterbacks, Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker, combined to rush for 28 yards on two carries. After a 2-3 start in which Turner posted rushing totals of 20 yards and 56 yards in two of those losses, he has amassed 528 yards on 116 carries (4.6 yards per carry) over the last five games as the Falcons are 4-1 in those games. For their part, the Titans (5-5), after starting the season 3-1, lost for the fourth time in six games. Down 23-3 late in the third quarter, the Titans looked poised for a blowout. At that point, the rookie Locker entered the game after Hasselbeck went out with an elbow injury and did what the veteran couldn't. He threw two touchdown passes, including the first of his career, in the final 17 minutes, the last one coming with 3:06 left in regulation. He finished 9-for-19 for 140 yards without an interception, but couldn't complete the comeback. "We didn't play smart for 60 minutes," Titans head coach Mike Munchak said. "We gave ourselves a chance at the end to make a stop and do something special, but we shouldn't have put ourselves in that situation. We made a lot of mistakes with penalties against the Falcons, especially on the defensive side." The Titans were penalized 10 times for 86 yards. Munchak said that Hasselbeck was sore and that he would have to receive medical observation on Monday and Tuesday to determine the extent of the injury. Yet he sought to cut off any potential quarterback controversy saying of Hasselbeck, "he is the quarterback, so there's no doubt about that." The victory came for Atlanta (6-4) one week after Smith elected to go for it on fourth-and-inches in overtime from his own 29 and was stopped, leading to an easy field goal by NFC South division rival New Orleans and a 26-23 Falcons' defeat. The Falcons showed no signs of a hangover from that loss and Smith, the metaphorical gunslinger, did not prove gun shy, as he twice went for it on fourth down although never from his half of the field and converted both. Once the Falcons drew the Titans offside and the other time they used a quarterback sneak, a play that drew the closest thing the laid-back Southern crowd could muster to a Bronx cheer of approval, the comparison implicit after last week's bungled handoff to Turner. Smith feigned indifference when asked if he had rid himself of any demons with those conversions after he was second-guessed throughout the national media last week for his call. "Again, I don't know anything about a fourth-down conversion in last week's ballgame," he said. "I know that we addressed it this week in terms no different of how we go every week that we get in those situations. This is Plan A,' This is Plan B.' We needed to go out and execute them." Then somewhat wryly, "I was very pleased at the execution of the plays on fourth-down-and-1 to keep drives going." Turner said, while unplanned, the offense tried to play at a faster tempo, as the Falcons often ran out of the no-huddle. Turner deflected a question when asked whether Griffin, who got steamrolled, wants to see him coming again. "You have to ask him that," Turner said. "There's a probably a couple of guys, not just him, that I got today. I was just out there running hard and playing hard for my team. We needed a win, we needed to bounce back from last week." Turner has averaged 23 carries a game over the last five games and he appeared no worse for wear. Quite the contrary, his coach and others said he showed that energy. "Everybody said that I had a little more pep to my step but I didn't feel any different from any other week," he said. Turner brought the crowd to its feet with his 35-yard run then when the Titans clawed back and kickoff to the Falcons, he reeled off a 27-yarder that helped to seal the win. "Energyzing, satisfying -- whatever you want to call it, when we run the ball, it's good and we know when he gets rolling, we've got a really good chance to win," Falcons right tackle Tyson Clabo said. Turner was asked about the fourth-down conversions. "Yeah, I mean, yeah, we wasn't worried about the fourth down," he said. "Nobody blinks. You know, it is what it is. It was a gamble last week and we didn't make it. So, but, coach have faith in us that we can make fourth downs and I think we proved that today."
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