Falcons
Vikings
24 - 17 Final
  for this game

Falcons clinch playoff spot with 10th win

Dec 22, 2008 - 2:43 AM By Mike Weimerskirch PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- The Atlanta Falcons have come a long way from last year's nightmare season.

Matt Ryan turned in a mistake-free performance as the Falcons clinched a playoff spot Sunday with a 24-17 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, who fumbled away a chance to wrap up the NFC North.

A loss by Tampa Bay (9-6) earlier Sunday put Atlanta (10-5) in position to secure a playoff berth with a win over the Vikings.

After finishing 4-12 last season in a year marred by Michael Vick's dogfighting charges, the Falcons are headed to the postseason for the first time since 2004 with a first-year coach in Mike Smith and a rookie quarterback.

"I'm new to this, I've never had the opportunity to play in a game that could get you to the playoffs, so I was fired up," said Ryan, the Falcons' first-round pick in this year's draft.

Ryan completed only 13-of-24 passes for 134 yards Sunday, but committed no turnovers and managed the game, as he has done for most of the season.

The Vikings (8-7) tried to rally after falling behind, 24-7, in the third quarter, but they virtually gift-wrapped the win for the Falcons with four turnovers - all fumbles. Three of the turnovers came in Atlanta territory.

"The defense stepped up big when it had to," Smith said. "The four turnovers were big for us. It was something we hadn't done in the last four weeks."

The Falcons' victory affected a number of teams, as the Chicago Bears stayed alive in the NFC North race and the New York Giants clinched a first-round bye.

Minnesota, which had its four-game winning streak snapped, can still win the division next week with a win at home against the Giants.

Even when things went wrong for the Falcons, they turned out right.

With Atlanta holding a 17-7 lead late in the third quarter, Ryan coughed up the ball when he made an ill-advised attempt to dive into the end zone.

However, offensive lineman Justin Blalock pounced on the fumble in the end zone for his first career touchdown.

"It's part of my job to protect the ball carriers whenever I have the chance," Blalock said. "To come from the beginning of the year with all the negative expectations, it feels pretty good to be here."

"That's twice now that he's done that (recover a fumble) for me - once in the Tampa game and once today," Ryan added. "I'm glad I've got Justin."

Tarvaris Jackson got the start for the Vikings after throwing four TDs in last week's 35-14 win at Arizona.

He completed 22-of-36 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns Sunday, but also lost two fumbles and mishandled a snap in a shotgun formation, resulting in a 22-yard loss.

"I have to do a better job taking care of the football," Jackson said. "We still control our destiny, but we could have ended it today."

After the teams traded touchdowns on their opening possessions, Minnesota began to unravel as

Bernard Berrian fumbled a punt at the Vikings' 22 following a three-and-out.

Atlanta quickly cashed in the turnover, taking a 14-7 lead on Ryan's 8-yard TD strike to Jerious Norwood.

"(Ryan) is a good player," Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield said. "Their offensive coordinator put him in a good position to make plays. They were getting good pressure down the field."

Later in the half, Jackson fumbled at the Minnesota 46, leading to Jason Elam's 22-yard field goal with seven seconds remaining and a 17-7 Falcons' lead at the half.

The Vikings reached Atlanta's 16-yard line on their first drive of the second half, only to see Jackson cough up the ball following a nine-yard sack. It marked the third time in as many possessions that Minnesota fumbled in Atlanta territory.

Jackson tossed a 17-yard TD pass to Visanthe Shiancoe to make it 24-17 with 2:44 remaining, but the Vikings' final possession ended when they turned the ball over on downs.

Michael Turner rushed for 70 yards on 19 carries for the Falcons, including a 1-yard TD run that opened the scoring.

Atlanta held Adrian Peterson, the NFL's leading rusher, to 76 yards on 22 carries.

"We did a good job today of going out there and beating ourselves," Peterson said.






  • 108
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    RmSvc Added 5 roots

    Falcons 24, Vikings 17  FinalDec 22 4:57 AM
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    MattDOOM777 Added 5 roots

    Falcons 24, Vikings 17  FinalDec 22 12:37 AM
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    Silversword55 Added 5 roots

    Falcons 24, Vikings 17  FinalDec 21 9:26 PM


  • NFL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 7 10 7 0 24
    MINNESOTA 7 0 0 10 17 FINAL
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: ATL - TD, MICHAEL TURNER 1 YD RUN (JASON ELAM
    KICK), 6:13. Drive: 12 plays, 74
    yards in 6:13. Key plays: Ryan
    11-yard pass to Jenkins to Atlanta
    37; Snelling 8-yard run on
    3rd-and-2 to Minne

    Dec 21 7:12 PM
  • 93
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 23 roots (Close Finish)

    Falcons 24, Vikings 17  4th - 0:56Dec 21 7:11 PM


  • NFL
    TD MIN
    VISANTHE SHIANCOE 17 YD PASS FROM TARVARIS JACKSON
    (RYAN LONGWELL KICK)
    ATLANTA 24
    MINNESOTA 17 2:44 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Falcons 24, Vikings 17  4th - 2:44Dec 21 6:58 PM
  • 70
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    RUWTbot Added 65 roots (Close Finish)

    Falcons 24, Vikings 17  4th - 2:44Dec 21 6:58 PM


  • NFL
    FG MIN
    RYAN LONGWELL 29 YD
    ATLANTA 24
    MINNESOTA 10 11:32 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Falcons 24, Vikings 10  4th - 11:32Dec 21 6:31 PM


  • NFL
    END, 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 7 10 7 24
    MINNESOTA 7 0 0 7 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: ATL - TD, MICHAEL TURNER 1 YD RUN (JASON ELAM
    KICK), 6:13. Drive: 12 plays, 74
    yards in 6:13. Key plays: Ryan
    11-yard pass to Jenkins to Atlanta
    37; Snelling 8-yard run on
    3rd-and-2 t

    Dec 21 6:23 PM


  • NFL
    TD ATL
    JUSTIN BLALOCK RECOVERED FUMBLE IN END ZONE
    (JASON ELAM KICK)
    ATLANTA 24
    MINNESOTA 7 2:38 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Falcons 24, Vikings 7  3rd - 2:38Dec 21 6:12 PM


  • NFL
    HALFTIME 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 7 10 17
    MINNESOTA 7 0 7 HALFTIME
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: ATL - TD, MICHAEL TURNER 1 YD RUN (JASON ELAM
    KICK), 6:13. Drive: 12 plays, 74
    yards in 6:13. Key plays: Ryan
    11-yard pass to Jenkins to Atlanta
    37; Snelling 8-yard run on
    3rd-and-2 to Mi

    Dec 21 5:31 PM


  • NFL
    FG ATL
    JASON ELAM 22 YD
    ATLANTA 17
    MINNESOTA 7 0:03 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Falcons 17, Vikings 7  2nd - 0:03Dec 21 5:29 PM


  • NFL
    TD ATL
    JERIOUS NORWOOD 8 YD PASS FROM MATT RYAN
    (JASON ELAM KICK)
    ATLANTA 14
    MINNESOTA 7 14:06 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Falcons 14, Vikings 7  2nd - 14:06Dec 21 4:53 PM


  • NFL
    END, 1ST QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 7 7
    MINNESOTA 7 7 END, 1ST QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: ATL - TD, MICHAEL TURNER 1 YD RUN (JASON ELAM
    KICK), 6:13. Drive: 12 plays, 74
    yards in 6:13. Key plays: Ryan
    11-yard pass to Jenkins to Atlanta
    37; Snelling 8-yard run on
    3rd-and-2 t

    Dec 21 4:47 PM


  • NFL
    TD MIN
    VISANTHE SHIANCOE 21 YD PASS FROM TARVARIS JACKSON
    (RYAN LONGWELL KICK)
    ATLANTA 7
    MINNESOTA 7 2:00 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Falcons 7, Vikings 7  1st - 2:00Dec 21 4:39 PM


  • NFL
    TD ATL
    MICHAEL TURNER 1 YD RUN
    (JASON ELAM KICK)
    ATLANTA 7
    MINNESOTA 0 8:47 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Falcons 7, Vikings 0  1st - 8:47Dec 21 4:26 PM
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    GREGnKY Added 5 roots

    Falcons vs. VikingsDec 21 10:34 AM
  • Sweetness34 Go Falcons!
    CRUSH the Vikings!

    Falcons vs. VikingsDec 20 3:01 PM