Falcons vs. Browns: Kroy Biermann Saves Day for Atlanta
The Falcons won 20-10.
Here are a few thoughts on the game:
• It was a rock-em, sock-em game with each team trying to mark its space and place on the field. The Browns featured bruising running back Peyton Hillis, as well as an aggressive defensive front that chased Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan around the field. Atlanta came with an offensive line that played through the end of the whistle for rugged back Michael Turner. There were hot tempers galore on the field.
• Cleveland quarterback Seneca Wallace, was 11 of 15 passes in the first half, but hopped off the field toward the end of the first half on his right leg. He did not start the third quarter. Veteran Jake Delhomme, who had an ankle injury and lost his starting job, came into the game and the Browns offense went nowhere in the quarter. There were times where it appeared Delhomme couldn't even walk to the huddle and he was booed constantly by the home crowd.
• The Browns confounded the Falcons on third down, bringing in linebackers to get on the line and rush Ryan. The Browns' defense, on one third down play in the red zone, had its three defensive linemen standing up. It was a bizarre looking scheme by Rob Ryan.
The Falcons had trouble with Cleveland's defensive quickness. Left tackle Sam Baker backed up to pass protect and the linebacker Eric Barton came flying through a hole to wallop Ryan.
• Ryan started the day 2 of 10 passing, but kept himself together to lead Atlanta to the victory. He finished 16 for 28 for 187 yards and a touchdown.
• Falcons MLB Curtis Lofton, one of the veteran leaders of the Atlanta defense, was listed as "probable" during the week with a sore knee. He started against the Browns, which was good news considering Cleveland's run-first attitude with Hillis.
• The Falcons had some trouble on their first three possessions of the game and did not waste another moment going to their no huddle offense. They changed the tempo and got a few things going, but Ryan, as he did last week against the 49ers, continued to struggle in the red zone. The Falcons had to kick two field goals after getting deep. A third Atlanta field goal was blocked.
• Atlanta had issues on special teams, yielding a long return by Joshua Cribbs and a blocked field goal. Falcons tight end Justin Pelle got suckered in field goal formation and Browns rookie T.J. Ward, ducked inside to block Matt Bryant's attempt near the end of the first half. The block allowed Cleveland to maintain a 7-6 lead at the half.
• Wallace appeared ticked off in the third quarter. He was standing down the sideline away from coaches. He didn't look happy that he was not playing.
• Wallace threw a touchdown pass in the first half to Hillis when he caught the Falcons in a zone blitz. Biermann was supposed to cover Hillis out of the backfield, but when Wallace stepped up in the pocket as if he was going to run, Hillis ran right past Biermann and caught the pass for the 19-yard touchdown.
The Browns resorted to using Cribbs in the wildcat formation on some plays with direct snaps.