2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Patriots keep Falcons guessing, win again

By GEORGE HENRY - Associated Press
    2013-09-30 02:47

ATLANTA (AP) - Tom Brady never doubted the Patriots would find their offensive rhythm.

Coach Bill Belichick never doubted that New England could switch its coverages enough to confuse Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

Either way, the Patriots showed the moxie they needed to build a 17-point lead midway through the fourth quarter before closing out Atlanta with a 30-23 victory Sunday night.

New England returned home as one of three 4-0 teams in the AFC, though Miami could become the fourth with a victory Monday at New Orleans.

Unlike the Falcons, who have sunk to 1-3 while struggling to overcome the losses of running back Steven Jackson, linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, cornerback Asante Samuel and defensive end Kroy Biermann, the Patriots keep winning.

Two-time Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski has yet to make his season debut because of back and forearm injuries. Receiver Danny Amendola and running back Shane Vereen have been out since Week 1

At the Georgia Dome, the Patriots lost Vince Wilfork, their five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle, to an ankle injury on Atlanta's opening drive.

Patriots receiver Aaron Dobson left the game midway through the third quarter after colliding with Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud in the end zone.

But none of these setbacks slowed down New England.

Five reasons why the Patriots defeated the Falcons:

SILENCING THE CROWD: Over 70,000 fans filled the dome, where Ryan began the game 34-5 as a starter and where late comeback victories were a staple of the success he enjoyed in his first five years.

The place was still packed when Matt Bryant's 45-yard field goal cut New England's lead to 20-13 with less than 12 minutes remaining, but the Patriots quickly killed the crowd's spirit.

Brady connected with Justin Edelman for a 44-yard completion on third down and hit Kenbrell Thompkins with an 18-yard TD pass. Ryan tried to answer with a deep pass to Julio Jones, but Aqib Talib picked him off and Stephen Gostkowski followed with a 49-yard field goal.

That was all Atlanta fans needed to exit the building and leave Ryan to try mounting a comeback with the dome not even one-third full.

KEEP IT BALANCED: In the first half, Brady kept the Atlanta defense guessing by handing off 15 times for a 4.3-yard average on the ground and passed just nine times for 96 total yards.

In the second half, Brady was airing it out, hitting Edelman for three passes that covered 95 yards, Thompkins for three that covered 62 and Josh Boyce for one for 24.

And running back LeGarrette Blount took a handoff early in the fourth and gouged the Atlanta defense for a 47-yard touchdown.

PLAYMAKING CORNER: Talib might be the hottest defensive back in the NFL.

He had three interceptions before the game, and his fourth pick came against one of the league's elite receivers in Jones.

Talib simply outjumped Jones for the ball. Jones has battled ankle and knee soreness this season, but it's rare that any defender beats him like that.

And on the Falcons' last chance to tie with 41 seconds remaining, Talib dove to bat a potential 10-yard TD pass out of the hands of Roddy White.

RYAN COULD ONLY GUESS: With White far from full strength because of a high ankle sprain this season and Jackson's hamstring injury holding back Atlanta's running game, Ryan struggled to identify double-teams that New England used occasionally on Jones and 13-time Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez.

Gonzalez set a career-high with 149 yards receiving and made two acrobatic touchdown catches. Jones was targeted 13 times and finished with six catches for 108 yards.

But those numbers were empty, just like Ryan's career-high 421 yards passing.

``We wanted to switch it up on them,'' Talib said. ``Sometimes we double covered them. Sometimes we single covered them. We wanted to switch it up and keep them off balance a little bit.''

LET PLAYMAKERS EMERGE: Brady has been delighted with the emergence of Thompkins, whose hard work in practice and in the film room is paying dividends on the field.

``It's really rare to see that with a young player to step in with confidence like that he has. He played great tonight,'' Brady said. ``We're missing quite a few guys, so hopefully when we get them back, we'll be more efficient.''

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Giovani BernardOct 31 11:12a

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (hip, shoulder) is unlikely to play in Week 9.

Trent RichardsonOct 31 10:32a

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) is not on the injury report for Week 9, and should be able to play Monday, Nov. 3.

Rashad JenningsOct 31 10:12a

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (knee) is aiming to return for the Week 10 game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Ronnie HillmanOct 31 09:12a

Updating previous reports, Denver Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman (shoulder) is expected to have his normal workload in Week 9, despite his limited practice repetitions.

DeAngelo HallOct 31 08:52a

Washington Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall (Achilles') tore his Achilles' again at home and had surgery to repair it Thursday, Oct. 30.

Ron JohnsonOct 30 08:22p

Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman (back), DE Michael Bennett (toe), C Stephen Schilling (knee), CB Tharold Simon (knee), CB Byron Maxwell (calf), LB Malcolm Smith (groin), DT Jordan Hill [ More ]

Patrick WillisOct 30 07:52p

San Francisco 49res CB Tramaine Brock (toe) and LB Patrick Willis (toe) were limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Jimmie Ward (quadriceps) and CB Chris Culliver (hamstring) practiced in full.

Chris MatthewsOct 30 07:42p

The Seattle Seahawks re-signed WR Chris Matthews and TE Brett Brackett to their practice squad Thursday, Oct. 30.

Scott WellsOct 30 07:42p

St. Louis Rams OG Rodger Saffold (shoulder), CB Janoris Jenkins (knee), DT Aaron Donald (shoulder) and S Cody Davis (concussion) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Rodney McLeod [ More ]

Luke JoeckelOct 30 07:22p

Jacksonville Jaguars OT Luke Joeckel (concussion) has recovered nicely from the concussion he suffered in Week 8, and he could play in Week 9 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Joeckel [ More ]

Pierre ThomasOct 30 07:22p

New Orleans Saints RBs Khiry Robinson (forearm) and Pierre Thomas (shoulder) are both inactive in Week 9 against the Carolina Panthers Thursday, Oct. 30.

Arian FosterOct 30 07:12p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (knee) was limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Johnathan JosephOct 30 07:12p

Houston Texans LBs Brian Cushing (knee), Brooks Reed (groin) and Jeff Tarpinian (knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. RB Alfred Blue (ankle), LB Jadeveon Clowney (knee), CB Johnathan [ More ]

David HawthorneOct 30 07:12p

The New Orleans Saints have declared LB Austin Johnson, LB David Hawthorne, C Jonathan Goodwin, RB Khiry Robinson, WR Nick Toon, RB Pierre Thomas, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste inactive for Week 9.

Amini SilatoluOct 30 07:12p

The Carolina Panthers have declared OG Amini Silatolu, CB Bene Benwikere, OT Byron Bell, RB Fozzy Whittaker, WR Philly Brown, FS Thomas DeCoud, OG Trai Turner inactive for Week 9.

Justin TuckOct 30 06:42p

Oakland Raiders TE David Ausberry (foot), WR Vincent Brown (hamstring), CB Chimdi Chekwa (hamstring), CB Keith McGill (groin), CB Carlos Rogers (knee) and WR Kenbrell Thompkins (non-injury) did not [ More ]

Anthony CollinsOct 30 06:42p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers OT Anthony Collins (foot) and LB Brandon Magee (knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. C Evan Dietrich-Smith (knee), WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring) and DE Michael Johnson (hand) were limited.

Brian RobisonOct 30 06:32p

Minnesota Vikings DT Shariff Floyd (ankle, knee), TE Chase Ford (foot), CB Jabari Price (hamstring), CB Josh Robinson (ankle) and DE Brian Robison (glute) were limited in practice Thursday, [ More ]

Louis VasquezOct 30 06:22p

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Ronnie HillmanOct 30 06:22p

Denver Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman (shoulder) was limited in practice for the second straight day Thursday, Oct. 30.

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Jordan CameronOct 30 06:12p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Chris JohnsonOct 30 06:12p

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Tom CrabtreeOct 30 06:02p

The New Orleans Saints waived TE Tom Crabtree Thursday, Oct. 30.

Patrick PetersonOct 30 05:42p

Arizona Cardinals S Tony Jefferson (head) and TE Troy Niklas (ankle) were limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. DE Calais Campbell (knee), LB Kenny Demens (knee), S Rashad Johnson [ More ]

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Kansas City Chiefs CB Jamell Fleming (hamstring) and LB Josh Martin (hamstring, knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Eric Berry (ankle) and CB Christopher Owens (knee) were [ More ]

Demario DavisOct 30 05:22p

New York Jets CB Darrin Walls (calf, knee) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. OT Oday Aboushi (shoulder), CB Phillip Adams (groin), LB Antwan Barnes (knee), OG Willie Colon [ More ]

Keenan RobinsonOct 30 05:12p

Washington Redskins S Ryan Clark (ankle, shoulder) and OT Trent Williams (knee) were limited in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. LB Ryan Kerrigan (wrist), LB Trent Murphy (knee), CB Tracy [ More ]

R. Griffin IIIOct 30 05:12p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) practiced in full for the second straight day Thursday, Oct. 30.

R. Griffin IIIOct 30 05:02p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) will start against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 9, barring any setbacks this week in practice, according to head coach Jay Gruden. [ More ]

Mike PounceyOct 30 05:02p

Miami Dolphins OG Daryn Colledge (illness, back) LB Chris McCain (foot) and TE Dion Sims (toe) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. OG Nate Garner (neck), LB Koa Misi [ More ]

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