NFL 2010: Falcons grate the cheese out of the Cardinals

The Atlanta Falcons’ 2010 season debut at the Pittsburgh Steelers did not turn out as victoriously as they or their fans had hoped.  Would their home opener against the Arizona Cardinals today be a repeat or a reversal?  Televised by Fox, and narrated by Brian Billick and Thom Brennaman, the first quarter started with the Falcons on offense.  Whatever quarterback Matt Ryan might have done differently before he went to sleep last night and after he woke up this morning paid off as the Falcons gave a solid first drive, featuring Michael Turner and Jason Snelling rushing yards, that resulted in a touchdown (courtesy of wide receiver Roddy White).  Atlanta 7 and Arizona 0.

Cardinals running back LaRod Stephens-Howling received the kick for his team’s first possession.  He ran the ball back all the way into the end zone, but it was nullified because of a holding penalty on one of his teammates.  Derek Anderson quarterbacked for Arizona.  The Cardinals suffered from penalty upon penalty and didn’t get much done offensively.  The bottom of the second quarter saw Falcons Christopher Owens intercepted Derek Anderson, whose team incurred an illegal formation penalty that gave the Falcons a first down.

The Cardinals got another defensive penalty in the top of the second quarter as someone (either Joey Porter or Robinson) who tugged on Matt Ryan’s face mask.  After the referee announced the penalty, a camera cut to a medium close-up of the Cardinals sidelines.  One of the coaches, probably the defensive coordinator Bill Davis, was looking in the direction of head coach Ken Whisenhunt .  He mouthed “damnit” or something that expressed disappointment.  His body language then went very huff-and-puff-and-grrrr.   Matt Bryant put a thirty-four-yard field goal through the uprights.  Not long after the Cardinals went on offense again, wide receiver Tim Hightower made an eighty-yard TD run.  Atlanta 10 and Arizona 7.  Moments after the commentators praised running back Jason Snelling’s abilities and playing time last season, he caught Matt Ryan impending-blitz pass and ran the ball into the end zone.  Although the Falcons had compiled a couple penalties of their own by the bottom of the second quarter, a slew of Cardinals defensive flags facilitated the Falcons performance on offense.  Jason Snelling got a second TD before halftime.  Atlanta 24 and Arizona 7.  Cardinals Jay Feely attempted a fifty-four-yard FG in the final minute of the first half.  It was no good.  Matt Ryan was going to run the ball into field goal range when the Falcons were on offense before the half, and during the ball popped out of his hand as he was being tackled.  The Cardinals recovered the fumbled ball.

The Cardinals took to the field first in the third quarter.  The second play (I believe) led to Falcons safety William Moore intercepting Derek Anderson (the ball had bounced off a player’s hands and Moore caught it).  Two plays later, with the Falcons on offense, wide receiver Brian Finneran made a TD catch in the end zone.  Atlanta 31 and Arizona 7.  Matt Bryant increased his team’s lead with a thirty-five-yard FG in the bottom of the third.  Atlanta 34 and Arizona 7.

The fourth quarter was ripe with both teams receiving penalties for various reasons.  And then Jason Snelling crossed the bottom left corner of the end zone.  Atlanta 41 and Arizona 7.  Matt Ryan was still quarterbacking through the fourth quarter, but Derek Anderson trotted off to the sidelines with three minutes left on the clock.  Max Hall stepped on as QB…and threw an interception shortly thereafter.  Falcons cornerback Dominique Franks got his hands on the ball.  He ran the ball back but was pushed out of bounds a dozen or so yards before reaching the goal line.  Atlanta 41 and Arizona 7.  Final score.

Yay Jason Snelling!

By the way, GaTech beat UNC yesterday 30 to 24UGA didn’t fare as well against ArkansasArmy, TCU, Ohio State, and Alabama pulverized their respective opponents.

Observations & Miscellania:

1.  Brian Billick’s shoulders slope down.

2.  The stadium was aglow with rouge…from both Falcons and Cardinals fans.

3.  Whatever Michael Turner did differently this week compared to last week in preparation for the game also appeared to be successful as his performance elicited more confidence and conviction.  I know what I am doing.

4.  Jason Snelling’s second TD in the first half was via jumping over/into a bunch of bodies and breaking the plane with extended hands around the ball.

5.  I wrote about basketball a year ago and how I began watching basketball game-play so that it wouldn’t bore me to near-tears.  Specifically, “If, however, I focus on the players without the ball, then it’s about when/if they’ll get the ball and how they are reacting, which is much more interesting to me.”  I’ve been watching a few plays of football in such a manner and it creates a more disorienting viewer experience.  I’m not even sure the suspense is greater.

6.  Um, Ken Whisenhunt and Derek Anderson, did you know that with under thirty seconds left on the clock and the game was effectively over…one of the cameras cut to a close-up of both of you touching your nose?  And Derek, you were full on face to camera–did you stick a finger up in a nostril?  Coach Whisenhunt, the camera may have gotten your left side, and slightly from the back, but still…I saw that nose-pinching, downward stroking.  Qu’est-ce vous faitesQue’est-ce que vous pensiez?

Click here for the Falcons roster and here for the Cardinals roster.

Get game summary, stats, and play-by-play here.

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