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Week 3 - Sept. 21, 2008

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Posted: 09/21/2008

Falcons back on track after victory over winless Chiefs

Associated Press

Doug Benc / Getty images
Falcons RB Michael Turner rushed for a career-high three touchdowns in Atlanta's win over Kansas City.


ATLANTA -- The Kansas City Chiefs' defensive plan was obvious: Stop the run.

Home-field advantage


In their two home games, Falcons QB Matt Ryan and RB Michael Turner have produced sublime performances. Check out their home stats this season:

Matt Ryan
Comp./Att.: 21/31
Passing yards: 353
TDs/INTs: 2/0
Yards per pass: 11.4


Michael Turner
Carries: 45
Rushing yards: 324
Yards per carry: 7.2
Touchdowns: 5

That didn't deter Michael Turner and the Atlanta Falcons.

Turner ran for three touchdowns and the Atlanta Falcons scored the first 24 points to beat Kansas City 38-14 on Sunday, handing the Chiefs their 12th straight loss.

Turner had scoring runs of 4, 1 and 2 yards, his first game with three rushing touchdowns, while leading the Falcons with 104 yards rushing. Jerious Norwood added 75 yards rushing.

"We have stressed since Day 1 we want to be a physical team," said Falcons first-year coach Mike Smith.

That strategy didn't change when the Chiefs' plan had early success.

The Chiefs dared Atlanta rookie quarterback Matt Ryan to pass as they stacked the defensive line to stop the run from the first play. The strategy seemed to be working when the Chiefs forced the Falcons to punt on their first three possessions.

Bolstered by an Atlanta defense that didn't allow a first down until the second quarter, Smith didn't panic.

Then, on the first play of the Falcons' fourth drive, Turner changed the game.

Turner dragged Chiefs linebacker Pat Thomas for a few steps before breaking free and running through other defenders for a 38-yard run from the Falcons' 8. A 30-yard pass from Ryan to Norwood helped set up Turner's first touchdown run.

Turner's determined run helped to soften the Kansas City defense. Ryan found Roddy White for a 70-yard touchdown pass on Atlanta's next possession, and the Falcons were on their way to a big early lead.

"They came out playing great defense," Turner said. "We have to be patient for the run and big things are going to happen."

Turner's 1-yard scoring run in the second quarter gave Atlanta (2-1) a 24-0 lead.

Tyler Thigpen, the third starting quarterback in three weeks for Kansas City (0-3), threw three interceptions in his first career start. The third interception, by cornerback Chris Houston, was returned 10 yards for a touchdown with 1:01 left in the game.

"I didn't play up to my expectations," Thigpen said.

Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said during the week he would turn to veteran Damon Huard if Thigpen struggled. Thigpen played the full game and was 14-for-36 passing for 128 yards with one touchdown.

"I thought about it," said Edwards when asked about changing quarterbacks. "But he put some points on the board.

"He did some bad things, but he did some good things, too. He got the team in position to score some touchdowns."

Asked if Thigpen would keep the starting job, Edwards said, "We'll see."

Down 24-0, Thigpen led a 13-play scoring drive capped by his 15-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Bowe with three seconds left in the first half.

The Chiefs' comeback continued when Larry Johnson's 48-yard run set up his 1-yard scoring plunge to open the second half, cutting Atlanta's lead to 24-14. It was Johnson's first rushing touchdown of the season.

Johnson, who had 96 yards rushing in his first two games, had 24 carries for 121 yards and a touchdown.

The Falcons had a quick answer to Johnson's touchdown. Ryan, making his third start, had a 15-yard run and a 17-yard pass to White to set up Turner's third touchdown, a 2-yard run.

Official site links ...
It proved to be an unfruitful visit to the Georgia Dome for the Chiefs, as they suffered their third loss of the season, 38-14, to the Falcons. More ...

Welcome home, Falcons. The Birds improved to 2-0 at the Georgia Dome on Sunday with an impressive 38-14 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. More ...

Ryan was 12-for-18 for 192 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.

The Chiefs were forced to punt on their first five possessions. Their next two drives ended with interceptions by Erik Coleman and Brent Grimes.

"You have to stay positive," Thigpen said. "We don't expect to go three and out. We were planning on making first downs and moving the ball."

Notes: Tony Gonzalez had three catches for 35 yards, leaving him 50 yards from breaking Shannon Sharpe's NFL record of 10,060 yards receiving for a tight end. ... The Chiefs' 12th straight loss came on the 11-month anniversary of their last win. They lost their last nine games in 2007 after a 12-10 win at Oakland on Oct. 21, 2007. ... Johnson has 4,981 yards rushing for his career to pass Christian Okoye (4,897) for second place on the Chiefs' all-time list.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

2008 NFL Cheerleaders : Week 3
Kansas City Chiefs (0-3-0)
Team Leaders Complete Player Stats
Passing COMP ATT YDS TD
T. Thigpen 14 36 128 1
Rushing CAR YDS AVG TD
L. Johnson 24 121 5.0 1
J. Charles 7 38 5.4 0
Receiving REC YDS AVG TD
D. Bowe 4 43 10.8 1
T. Gonzalez 4 35 8.8 0
Atlanta Falcons (2-1-0)
Team Leaders Complete Player Stats
Passing COMP ATT YDS TD
M. Ryan 12 18 192 1
Rushing CAR YDS AVG TD
M. Turner 23 104 4.5 3
J. Norwood 11 75 6.8 0
Receiving REC YDS AVG TD
R. White 5 119 23.8 1
J. Norwood 1 30 30.0 0