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Week 8: Falcons 31, Redskins 17


Gameday Graphic for Game on 11/8/2009

For two weeks, the Redskins could only reflect on their disappointing 2-5 start. Could they salvage their season, starting with Sunday's game at Atlanta, coming out of the bye?


The Redskins struggled in the first half against the Falcons at a loud and raucous Georgia Dome. They were in a 24-3 hole at halftime, Clinton Portis was on the sidelines with a concussion and Jason Campbell had been sacked five times.

In the third quarter, the offense managed to show signs of life, scoring a pair of touchdowns to narrow the Falcons' lead to 24-17.

Then the defense yielded a 58-yard touchdown by running back Michael Turner to seal the game. Turner gashed the Redskins for 166 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries.

It was the fourth consecutive loss for the reeling Redskins.

Besides Portis, Campbell struggled through injuries, too. He suffered a chest contusion in the first half. In the second half, he had a high ankle sprain.

Both times Campbell was replaced by Todd Collins. Both times he returned.

Campbell finished the game with 15-of-21 completions for 196 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

The interception was a costly one. Late in the first quarter, cornerback Tye Hill grabbed a pass that had bounced off the hands of Fred Davis. Hill raced 62 yards for a touchdown.

Defensively, the Redskins were able to generate some pressure on second-year quarterback Matt Ryan. The defense logged three sacks, including two by Brian Orakpo, and Rocky McIntosh had a first quarter interception.


What doomed the defense? Big plays and ill-timed penalties.

Turner set up the Falcons' first score when he broke loose on a 33-yard run in the first quarter. He escaped the grasp of London Fletcher and raced down the sideline before being pushed out of bounds by LaRon Landry.

On 4th-and-1 at the Redskins' 8-yard line, the Falcons opted to make an early statement and go for the first down. But Albert Haynesworth was flagged for off-sides before the snap, and the Falcons got the first down without running a play.

One play later, Ryan threw to tight end Tony Gonzalez for a 2-yard touchdown pass. Gonzalez got a step on Chris Wilson in coverage and pulled in the short pass for the score.

After a 3-and-out on the Redskins' first possession, the Falcons got the ball back and moved into Redskins territory again.

Ryan threw downfield to wide receiver Marty Booker, but McIntosh made a leaping interception in front of Booker and returned the ball to the Redskins' 48-yard line.

The Redskins moved to Atlanta's 34-yard line, but then disaster struck.


First, Portis suffered his concussion and left the game. His 9-yard run was negated due to a holding penalty on Casey Rabach, pushing the offense back.

Then Campbell threw a short to Davis, but he could not get a grasp on the ball. It bounced off his hands and up into the air. Hill was there for the interception.

Open field ahead for Hill. He sped down the left sideline, with two players to beat. He cut inside of Campbell and Ladell Betts and raced into the end zone for the 62-yard interception return.

Down 14-0, the Redskins found themselves in an early hole.

Early in the second quarter, the Redskins' offense connected on a big play of their own.

Mike Sellers lined up at tight end and ran a route straight downfield. Campbell threw perfectly and Sellers caught the pass in stride for a 47-yard play.

The drive stalled due to struggles in pass protection.

On first down, Campbell was sacked by blitzing cornerback Chevis Johnson. On third down, Campbell was sacked by defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux.

So Shaun Suisham came on for a 48-yard field goal and his kick was perfect.

The Falcons responded.

Ryan connected on passes to wide receiver Roddy White and Turner to move the ball to the Redskins' 30-yard line.

Next play, Turner took a handoff and raced through a hole to the left. He avoided a tackler and cut inside, turning around Landry in the secondary. Turner avoided Landry and raced into the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown run.

It was 21-3, and the Redskins were in desperate need of some offensive production.


That's hard to do with Campbell under a barrage of pressure.

On the ensuing series, Campbell dropped back to pass and was quickly sacked by defensive end John Abraham and Babineaux. Campbell suffered a chest contusion injury on the play and left the game.

Collins came in for one play, promptly threw a pass to Santana Moss that lost four yards, and the Redskins punted.

The Falcons took advantage of a series of personal foul penalties on the Redskins' defense to move into scoring range just before halftime.

Landry was flagged for a late hit on Ryan as he ran out of bounds, a penalty that started a sideline tussle between DeAngelo Hall and several Falcons players. Then Lorenzo Alexander was penalized for a late hit on the quarter in the pocket.

The penalties helped the Falcons move to the Redskins' 16-yard line.

With 5 seconds left, kicker Jason Elam connected on a 33-yard field goal to give the Falcons a commanding 24-3 lead at halftime.

It was a dispiriting first half, but the Redskins surprised by coming out in the second half with new life.

Campbell started to find a rhythm in the passing game, and it started with his mobility. On 3rd-and-5 at the Redskins' 25-yard line, he avoided pressure and scrambled up the middle for 19 yards.

Campbell connected with Sellers again and rookie Marko Mitchell for 11-yard pickups, moving the offense into scoring range. Then he threw a screen pass to Betts, who ran 23 yards to the Falcons' 5-yard line.

After three stops by the Falcons' defense, the Redskins faced a 4th-and-goal at the 1-yard line.

Easy decision for Jim Zorn to go for the touchdown.

Betts took the handoff up the middle and surged across the goal line for a 1-yard score.

The Redskins' defense forced a 3-and-out, and the offense got the ball back with a chance to narrow the lead some more.

Campbell completed a 16-yard pass to Davis and then Betts picked up 16 yards behind blocking to the left.

The impressive drive continued as Campbell completed a 15-yard pass to Moss and an 8-yarder to Antwaan Randle El to the Falcons' 19-yard line.

Again, Campbell used his mobility to convert a third down, picking up five yards on a 3rd-and-3. A defensive holding penalty put the ball at the Falcons' 3-yard line.

One play later, Campbell rolled right and waited to find an open receiver. Just as he was about to step out of bounds, he fired a pass to Todd Yoder in the back of the end zone.

Yoder made a diving grab and managed to keep both feet in bounds for a 3-yard touchdown catch. The Falcons challenged the play, but the ruling on the field was upheld.

Suddenly, the Falcons' lead had been narrowed to 24-17.

It was a game again.

Not for long, though.

Just two plays into the ensuing drive, Turner ran to the left and burst past a block by left tackle Sam Baker. He stepped over a diving Landry and broke loose from Hall's grasp to race 58 yards for a touchdown.

The Falcons took a 31-17 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

The Redskins kept the pressure on, even after Campbell left the game with his ankle injury in the fourth quarter.

Collins directed the offense into Atlanta territory after completing short passes to Randle El and Betts.

The Redskins faced a 4th-and-1 at the Falcons' 44-yard line.

Collins dropped back to pass and lofted a pass to Sellers in the flat. He was quickly swarmed by a host of defenders led by linebacker Mike Peterson for a 2-yard loss.

Campbell would come back on the Redskins' next drive, but time ran out on the Redskins.



Photo Album: Redskins-Falcons](/media-gallery/photos/week-8-redskins-falcons/17D1E0AD-A355-44F4-8A88-8E44C055D4F2)


The Redskins travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons on Sunday, Nov. 8 at the Georgia Dome. Kickoff is 1 p.m. ET.

The Georgia Dome uses an artificial surface called FieldTurf. The stadium seats 71,228.

It is the third of four games the Redskins will play against the NFC South this season. The Redskins are 1-1 against the NFC South: they defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16-13 at FedExField and lost to the Carolina Panthers 20-17 at Bank of America Stadium.

The Redskins are 2-4 in NFC play so far this season, but 0-3 in road games. They lost to the New York Giants 23-17 at the Meadowlands in Week 1, the Detroit Lions 19-14 at Ford Field in Week 3 and the Panthers in Week 5.

The Redskins-Panthers game will be televised to a regional audience on FOX.

On radio, the game will be broadcast locally on the Redskins Radio Network. Larry Michael calls the play-by-play with former Redskins and Hall of Famers Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff adding color commentary. Former Redskin Rick 'Doc' Walker reports from the sidelines.

Jorge Andres and Mario Alfaro call the game in Spanish on ESPN Deportes 730.


Pos. Redskins Falcons
WR 89 Santana Moss 84 Roddy White
LT 74 Stephon Heyer 72 Sam Baker
LG 66 Derrick Dockery 63 Justin Blalock
C 61 Casey Rabach 62 Todd McClure
RG 63 Will Montgomery 73 Harvey Dahl
RT 71 Mike Williams 77 Tyson Clabo
TE 86 Fred Davis 88 Tony Gonzalez
WR 11 Devin Thomas 12 Michael Jenkins
QB 17 Jason Campbell 2 Matt Ryan
FB 45 Mike Sellers 34 Ovie Mughelli
RB 26 Clinton Portis 33 Michael Turner
Pos. Redskins Falcons
DE 99 Andre Carter 98 Jamaal Anderson
DT 96 Cornelius Griffin 95 Jordan Babineaux
DT 92 A. Haynesworth 93 Thomas Johnson
DE 93 Phillip Daniels 55 John Abraham
SLB 98 Brian Orakpo 54 Stephen Nicholas
MLB 59 London Fletcher 50 Curtis Lofton
WLB 52 Rocky McIntosh 53 Mike Peterson
LCB 23 DeAngelo Hall 20 Brent Grimes
RCB 22 Carlos Rogers 23 Chris Houston
SS 37 Reed Doughty 26 Erik Coleman
FS 30 LaRon Landry 28 Thomas DeCoud
Pos. Redskins Falcons
P 3 Hunter Smith 9 Michael Koenen
K 6 Shaun Suisham 1 Jason Elam
H 3 Hunter Smith 9 Michael Koenen
LS 67 Ethan Albright 46 Mike Schneck
KOR 31 Rock Cartwright 14 Eric Weems
PR 82 A. Randle El 14 Eric Weems


Washington leads the series against Atlanta with a 14-5-1 edge in a series that dates back to 1966.

Washington and Atlanta have played only twice in the regular season in the last 15 years.

The two teams last met in the regular season in 2006. The Falcons came from behind to defeat the Redskins 24-14 at FedExField.

Jason Campbell made his third career start in the game and struggled in the passing game, completing 18-of-38 passes for 217 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Santana Moss caught a 42-yard touchdown pass to help the Redskins build a 14-0 lead.

The Falcons came back behind an impressive running game that totaled 256 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown run by Jerious Norwood, as they rallied to win in the second half.

The two teams last played at the Georgia Dome in 2003, when the Redskins came from behind to defeat the Falcons 33-31 at the Georgia Dome. Patrick Ramsey threw for 356 yards and two touchdowns on 25-of-39 passing. Falcons' running back T.J. Duckett ran for two touchdowns.

The teams have met in the postseason once, with the Redskins taking a 24-7 win over Atlanta at RFK Stadium on Jan. 3, 1992 in an NFC Divisional Playoff game.



Offense Rank Yards/Game
Total Offense 24 296.0
Rushing Offense 26 93.4
Passing Offense 20 202.6
Defense Rank Yards/Game
Total Defense 4 283.4
Rushing Defense 22 118.6
Passing Defense 2 164.9


Offense Rank Yards/Game
Total Offense 17 339.9
Rushing Offense 17 111.1
Passing Offense 14 228.7
Defense Rank Yards/Game
Total Defense 29 378.1
Rushing Defense 23 121.7
Passing Defense 31 256.4


Assistant head coach-secondary coach Emmitt Thomas has a long history with the Redskins. In 1986, he was the Redskins wide receivers coach and then spent the next eight years (1987-94) as the defensive backs coach. Seven of Thomas's nine years in Washington were spent under Joe Gibbs. Thomas coached Art Monk and Darrell Green and was inducted into the Hall of Fame (as a Kansas City Chiefs cornerback) alongside both Monk and Green in 2008.

Falcons quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave coached in Washington in the same capacity in 2005. He helped tutor Jason Campbell for one season.

Wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie served in the same capacity with the Redskins from 1994-98. A year later, he was elevated to passing game coordinator. In 2000, Robiskie served as interim head coach when the Redskins fired Norv Turner midseason. Robiskie was 1-2 in three games leading the Redskins.

Assistant director of player personnel Lionel Vital was drafted by the Redskins as a running back in the seventh round of the 1985 NFL Draft.


-- Hall Returns to His Roots

DeAngelo Hall was selected by the Atlanta Falcons as the eighth overall selection in the 2004 NFL Draft. During his four years with Atlanta, Hall tallied 17 interceptions and two touchdowns, giving Falcons fans much to cheer about during his tenure there.

This week, Hall returns to the Georgia Dome for the first time in the burgundy and gold as the Redskins meet the Falcons on Sunday.

"It's going to be fun. That's the place where I started my career," Hall said. "I definitely can't wait to go back down there and mix it up with some of the guys."

There is one person on the Falcons roster that Hall is very excited about matching up against -- Roddy White, the Falcons' leading receiver.

White was the Falcons' first-round selection the year after Hall entered the league and Hall considers himself a mentor to the explosive receiver.

"I raised him," Hall said emphatically. "I raised him and I'm proud of him. I talk to him probably a couple of times a month just to make sure he's doing the things he needs to, to get better. But I'm proud of him and I can't wait to go against him."

White has posted back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons. His 1,202 yards in '07 was the first 1,000-yard season by an Atlanta receiver since 1999. His 1,382 yards last year set a franchise record and earned him a trip to his first Pro Bowl.

Though he was successful in Atlanta, Hall is not sure how he will be greeted by Falcons fans.

"I have no idea. I might get booed, I might get praised but I hear there's still a couple of my jerseys out there in the stands," he said.

-- How the Redskins' Roster Was Built

The Redskins have 24 players on the roster that the team drafted, including 2009 first-round pick Brian Orakpo and 2009 supplemental draft pick Jeremy Jarmon. Draft picks account for 45.2 percent of the Redskins roster.

Washington has used free agency to acquire 22 players, including Mike Sellers in 2004, Casey Rabach in 2005, Andre Carter and Antwaan Randle El in 2006, London Fletcher in 2007, DeAngelo Hall in 2008 and Albert Haynesworth and Hunter Smith in 2009. Free agents account for 43.3 percent of the roster.

Three Redskins players were acquired as undrafted rookie free agents. This group includes starting right tackle Stephon Heyer.

The team has acquired two players via trade. Clinton Portis was acquired in a 2004 trade with the Denver Broncos and Santana Moss joined the Redskins as part of a 2005 trade with the New York Jets.


-- Redskins Team Captains

The Redskins have elected captains for the offense, defense and special teams.

For the offense, it's quarterback Jason Campbell and left tackle Chris Samuels.

For the defense, it's defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin and linebacker London Fletcher.

For special teams, it's running back Rock Cartwright and fullback Mike Sellers.

Sellers is the newcomer of the captains this year. The other five were also voted team captains in 2008.

-- Dome Sweet Dome

The Redskins play in the Georgia Dome for the first time since the 2003 season.

Since 2003, the Redskins have posted an 7-3 record when playing in dome stadiums. Earlier this year, the Redskins lost to the Detroit Lions 19-14 indoors at Ford Field.

The Falcons have a six-game winning streak at the Georgia Dome and are 10-1 at the stadium since the start of the 2008 season.

Jason Campbell played in the Georgia Dome when he was at Auburn, including once in the SEC Championship game.

"Being able to play in there before, I kind of know what to expect as far as the crowd noise," Campbell said. "I have some good memories there."

-- Gonzalez vs. Redskins

Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez has only played the Redskins twice in his career when he was with the Kansas City Chiefs.

In 2001, Gonzalez caught five passes for 88 yards and a touchdown in a 45-13 win over the Redskins at FedExField.

In 2005, Gonzalez posted just two catches for 13 yards in a 28-21 win in Kansas City.

Gonzalez entered the 2009 season with 916 career catches for 10,940 yards and 76 touchdowns. He has certainly put together a Hall of Fame-caliber career.

This season, Gonzalez has 27 catches for 304 yards and three touchdowns.

-- Strength of Schedule

Washington's strength of schedule for 2009 was ranked 16th in the NFL at .492. Their opponents' 2008 cumulative record was 125-129-2.

The Redskins play a total of seven games against 2008 playoff teams, with four of those games against NFC East foes Philadelphia and New York.

The Miami Dolphins have the NFL's toughest schedule at .594. Their opponents' 2008 cumulative record was 152-104.

The Chicago Bears have the NFL's easiest schedule at .414. Their opponents' 2008 cumulative record was 105-149-2.

-- Defense Making a Point

The Redskins' defense has not allowed more than 27 points in a game since Nov. 18, 2007, when Washington lost to Dallas 28-23 at Texas Stadium.

The streak of 29 consecutive games holding an opponent to 27 points or less is the longest in the NFL.

Indianapolis is next on the list with 15 games.

The Redskins' defense has not allowed more than 30 points in 30 consecutive contests.

-- QB Rating vs. Redskins

In the Oct. 26 loss to Philadelphia, the Redskins' defense continued its NFL-best streak of not allowing an opposing quarterback to reach a QB rating of 100 or more.

By holding Donovan McNabb to a 91.4 QB rating, the defense improved its streak to 29 games. (The stat is based on a minimum of 20 pass attempts.)

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was the last QB to post a 100 passer rating against the Redskins. He accomplished it on Nov. 18, 2007, in a 28-23 win over the Redskins at Texas Stadium.

-- Travel Time

The Redskins will travel 16,356 miles in 2009, the 21st most in the NFL. They have the shortest travel schedule in the NFC East.

The Seattle Seahawks travel 29,054 miles, most in the NFL. The Cleveland Browns travel 7,554 miles, least in the NFL.

The total distance traveled by all NFL teams is 578,912 miles. This is 18,128 fewer miles than 2008, when teams traveled a total of 597,040.

-- Campbell Connection

Redskins director of player personnel Scott Campbell began his NFL career with the Falcons in 1987, serving as an assistant to his father, then-head coach Marion Campbell.

In 1990, Scott Campbell moved over to Atlanta's personnel department for a seven-season run as an area scout.

Campbell has been with the Redskins since the 2001 season, serving in several capacities. He was promoted to director of player personnel in 2008.

-- What's Next?

The Redskins return to FedExField on Sunday, Nov. 15 to host the Denver Broncos. Kickoff is 1 p.m. ET.

It's the Redskins' second game against the AFC this year. (NFC East teams are playing the AFC West this year.) They lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 14-6 on Oct. 18.

The last time Denver played at FedExField was on Sept. 28, 1998. The Broncos won 38-16.

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