Falcons soaring as they go 5-0 for first time
Rivals should be wary as team have potential to improve, says Atlanta veteran McClure
Atlanta remained undefeated, Tom Brady won the battle of the marquee quarterbacks and Drew Brees had a record-setting day in week five of the National Football League season.
Michael Turner rushed for the go-ahead touchdown with just under three minutes remaining as the Atlanta Falcons ground out a 24-17 win over the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field.
Turner busted through for a 13-yard run to the end zone when it mattered most for the Falcons, who are 5-0 for the first time in franchise history.
Turner finished with 18 carries for 67 yards.
Atlanta centre Todd McClure has been with the team since 1999 so he has experienced the highs and lows.
“This is pretty special,” McClure said. “The best thing about it is that we are not playing our best football and we’re 5-0. It’s easy to make corrections when you’re 5-0. We have a lot of room for improvement.”
Quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 345 yards, two touchdowns and one interception as he completed 34-of-52 passes for the Falcons.
Receiver Tony Gonzalez had a superb game, catching 13 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown, while Julio Jones grabbed 10 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown.
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin completed 10-of-15 passes for 91 yards. He was forced to leave the game after taking a hit to the head from Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.
Backup Kirk Cousins came in and threw for 111 yards, one score and two interceptions on 5-of-9 passing for Washington.
The Redskins lost at home for the eighth straight game.
New Orleans quarterback Brees set an NFL record by throwing a touchdown in his 48th consecutive game, breaking the mark set by Hall-of-Famer Johnny Unitas more than 50 years ago. “First of all it’s a team record, not an individual record. So many people were responsible for this, coaches and people in the organisation,” Brees said.
“Certainly the man who held this record stands for everything great in this league. It couldn’t have happened in a better way.”
Unitas set the record between 1956 and 1960 and no quarterback had come within 10 touchdowns until Brees started to make a serious move on the record late in the last year season.
Brees broke the record by completing a 40-yard pass to receiver Devery Henderson as the Saints held on to beat the San Diego Chargers 31-24.
In a match-up of two of the game’s marquee quarterbacks, the New England Patriots rushing game was a deciding factor. Second-year Running back Stevan Ridley carried for a career-high 151 yards and one touchdown as New England defeated the Denver Broncos 31-21.
Denver quarterback Peyton Manning threw three touchdown passes to Tom Brady’s one TD pass at Gillette Stadium. Manning also outgained his New England counterpart, 345-223.
On second and 10 from the 14-yard line late in the fourth quarter, Manning handed the ball off to Willis McGahee and New England’s Rob Ninkovich forced his second fumble of the game to blunt Denver’s attack. Brady then completed a nine-yard pass to Wes Welker, the last of his game-high 13 receptions, on third-and-three and the Patriots used up all the time left on the clock.
“It’s a good win against a very good team,” Brady said. “The Broncos have a hell of a team in all three phases and I thought we really stood up to them, so it’s a good win for us.”