Falcons bounce back, Titans' home skid 9
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Atlanta Falcons just keep finding ways to pull out victories, no matter how ugly.
Matt Ryan threw for 251 yards and a touchdown pass, and Devonta Freeman ran for 116 yards as the Falcons held off the Tennessee Titans 10-7 Sunday.
The Falcons (6-1) bounced back from their first loss this season by grinding out a road win and overcoming two interceptions. Freeman notched his third consecutive game with at least 100 yards, and Atlanta outgained Tennessee 378-256.
The banged-up Titans (1-5) lost their fifth straight overall and ninth consecutive on their home field dating back to last season. They played without rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota and two starters in their secondary. Their defense kept them close, giving Tennessee plenty of chances needing only a field goal to force overtime.
But Zach Mettenberger was intercepted by Falcons safety Robenson Therezie with 1:31 left to seal Atlanta’s victory.
The Falcons had plenty of chances to keep this from being close late.
Atlanta coach Dan Quinn thought the Falcons scored when Ryan hit Julio Jones with a 3-yard pass, but officials ruled the receiver short of the goal line. Not even Quinn’s challenge helped as officials ruled Jones down 6 inches outside the end zone after he tried sticking the ball past the pylon.
The Titans stopped Atlanta fullback Peter DiMarco on third down, then Titans linebacker Avery Williamson intercepted Ryan’s pass intended for Jacob Tamme in the end zone with 6:30 left.
Tennessee turned it over on downs with 3:30 left.
Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant then pushed a 47-yard field goal wide right with 2:28, giving Tennessee one final chance at ending its skid. Instead, the Titans now have lost three games in this skid by a combined six points.
Ryan became the fifth-fastest quarterback to throw for 30,000 yards in his career. He came in needing 83 yards passing to reach that mark in his 117th game, which he got with a 2-yard pass to Jones midway through the second quarter. Only Dan Marino (114), Kurt Warner (114), Peyton Manning (115) and Aaron Rodgers (116) were faster.
The Falcons had turned the ball over six times in the previous two games, and the Titans intercepted Ryan in the second quarter when linebacker David Bass tipped the ball into the air and grabbed it. Mettenberger found Kendall Wright for a 19-yard touchdown on the next play and a 7-0 lead in the second quarter for the Titans’ only points of the game.
The Titans played without cornerback Perrish Cox (hamstring) and safety Michael Griffin (left knee), and they lost their second center in as many games to start the third quarter when rookie Andy Gallik was sidelined by a shoulder stinger. That forced Joe Looney, signed Tuesday, onto the field.
Atlanta took control in the third quarter, outgaining the Titans 134-35. Ryan finished off an 88-play drive by tossing an 8-yard TD pass to Jones, giving the Falcons their first lead of the game at 10-7 late in the quarter.
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