Play Of Boley Key In Win

Boley Attacked By KitnaThe Falcons have a budding defensive star, and his name is Michael Boley.

Boley’s play was key in the Falcons victory over the Texans yesterday, and he is making a name for himself this year league-wide:

“He’s a star in the making,” said Keith Brooking, the Falcons’ five-time Pro Bowl linebacker. “He’s a very productive player. He’s all over the field making plays.”

Boley’s 28 tackles rank second in the NFL and first on the Falcons. He’s not just accumulating numbers by jumping on piles, either. Boley’s tackles have been high impact, literally and figuratively.

As the AJC points out, it’s not just that Boley’s making plays, but that he’s making them at crucial times:

He’s also dishing out his blows at crucial points, as was the case in 1-3 Atlanta’s first win of the season Sunday, 26-16 over Houston.

Boley (6 feet 3, 236 pounds) forced a second-quarter fumble when he tackled Vonta Leach after a short catch. The play led to the Falcons’ second touchdown of the game. He followed that with another big hit on Leach that denied Houston a first down on a fourth-and-2 play in the second quarter. The Falcons converted that into a field goal.

Two more of his game-high nine tackles came on third-down plays that forced a punt or a late-game fourth-down gamble.

Boley’s play is a highlight on a defense that looks solid overall, and is a bright spot in what has been a difficult season so far. Things are starting to look up, though, and if the trend continues it will be in large part because of the strong play of Boley and the defense.


Victory!

Atlanta 26 Houston 16

Harrington looked good.  The defense looked good.  Father Time, er, Morten Andersen kicked 4 field goals. 

It’s nice to remember what an NFL victory feels like.

More tomorrow.


Week 4: Atlanta Falcons v. Houston Texans

Falcons Helmet
Texans helmetSo, one wouldn’t expect for the Falcons to have great hopes for this week; they’re 0-3, and going up against the 2-1 Texans.  Deangelo Hall had to sit a bit because of last week’s meltdown, and he’s a bit banged up anyway.  The offense has been spotty at best.

But, surprisingly, the Falcons have looked good today.  After 3 quarters they’re up 23-13, but with the Texans knocking on the door.  Joey Harrington, whose era continues despite the premature reporting of its death, is 18 for 23 with 197 yards and 2 touchdown strikes to Michael Jenkins

Fourth Quarter Update: Falcons hold the Texans to a field goal attempt, which is good: Atlanta 23, Houston 16.

The timeless Morten Andersen makes it 4 for 4: Atlanta 26, Houston 16.



Hall Disciplined

Deangelo HallThe verdict is in on the discipline by the Falcons against Deangelo Hall for his tirade during the Panthers game: a $100,000 fine and possibly some bench time in the Texans game.

Despite what seemed like contrition on Monday, Hall is not happy with the decision and is appealing it with the player’s union (see this article from the AP via Yahoo!).  Perhaps that’s not surprising, though, if one looks carefully at the quote from Monday:

“If it’s a suspension or a fine, especially if it’s a suspension, I take it in full stride,” a contrite Hall said Monday. “It don’t feel good to be the reason your team loses a game. Whether you give up a touchdown pass or you get a stupid penalty, it all feels the same.”

So apparently he’s ok with the cut in play time, but he’s a little pissed off about being hit in the wallet. Understandable, I guess; how’s he going to buy that extra Hummer now? Should’ve thought of that before he blew his top, I reckon.

So it looks like we might get our secondary chewed up by the QB we gave away because we didn’t realize ours was a dog killer, all because our star corner couldn’t keep his mouth shut on 4th down.  I can’t wait.


Vick Indicted In Virginia

Michael VickIt’s an indication of how the Falcons are playing that I want to talk about Michael Vick today.  There also happens to be some news.

Michael Vick was indicted today on state charges in Surry County, Virginia related to the dogfighting operation for which he plead to federal charges last month. 

Though Vick has already plead to the federal charges, the state is not barred from also prosecuting him under separate state statutes.  The “double jeopardy” doctrine does not apply because of the “separate sovereigns” doctrine which allows federal and state jurisdictions to prosecute separately for the same acts.

This means that Vick could be facing additional jail time, on top of the expected 12-18 months he will receive in federal prison when he is sentenced in December.

And to top it all off, Vick got sued today by a Canadian bank, which alleged that his suspension constitutes a default on a $2.5 million loan.

Tough day for Vick.

Sources:

“Bank sues Vick” [Sports Illustrated]

“Vick indicted on Va. dogfighting charges” [Yahoo!]


Carolina Panthers 27, Atlanta Falcons 20

Deangelo HallThe Falcons continued their disappointing pattern yesterday of teasing us into thinking victory was possible, only to have a catastrophic failure by a single player swing the momentum fatally in the opponent’s favor. 

The catastrophic failure this time belonged to Deangelo Hall.  On a crucial drive with the Falcons leading 17-10, Hall had two pass interference calls against him before he melted down and got another unsportsmanlike conduct called against him.  Unfortunately, the Falcons had stopped the Panthers before this dead-ball call.  The call gave the Panthers a first down, after which they scored.  The Falcons never recovered the momentum and lost the game.

While I feel a couple of these calls were questionable, Hall’s reaction is ultimately what put him and the Falcons in this position.  The Falcons apparently agree, and are considering disciplining Hall in some fashion.  Not sure what this means, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he sits for a bit.  Hall seems to be accepting of whatever consequences come his way, and takes responsibility himself for costing the Falcons the game:

“If it’s a suspension or a fine, especially if it’s a suspension, I take it in full stride,” a contrite Hall said Monday. “It don’t feel good to be the reason your team loses a game. Whether you give up a touchdown pass or you get a stupid penalty, it all feels the same.”

As for Joey Harrington and his job, the results are unclear. He didn’t play badly, but he didn’t do anything spectacular enough to win the game either. I suspect he’ll still start next week, but that it won’t take that much to get Leftwich in if he struggles.

Related:
“Falcons to discipline Hall” [AJC]
“Hall’s meltdown hurts Falcons” [AJC]


Week 3: Atlanta Falcons v. Carolina Panthers

Falcons HelmetPanthers HelmetTime to play “Can Harrington Save His Job?”, or as it’s also known, “How Long ‘Till Leftwich Takes Over?”.  The Falcons take on the Panthers at 4:15 today in the first divisional game of the year for the Falcons.  

Let’s hope the Falcons can outplay their worth today.

If they can, and if the Rams can beat the Bucs (the Bucs are leading 3-0 at the half), we could end up in a tie for the division lead with nobody over .500.

Halftime Update: Atlanta 10, Carolina 10.  Harrington is playing like a man who wants to keep his job, going 13 for 16 for 191 yards and a 69-yard touchdown strike to Dez White.  Morten Andersen is 1 for 1 on kicks that he actually got to kick; Koenen bungled the snap on an earlier attempt.  Byron Leftwich is on the sideline in uniform, but it doesn’t look like his services will be needed just yet.

Third Quarter Update: Another impressive drive for Harrington, capped by a touchdown to Alge Crumpler.  The Falcons have their biggest lead of the season (that’s depressing); Atlanta 17, Carolina 10.

The referees have decided that it’s illegal for D’Angelo Hall to play defense.  As a result of two of the worst penalty calls I’ve ever seen, one on a pass interference and another one for talking (I’m not kidding, that’s all he was doing; it was an unbelievably bad call), the Panthers are able to tie it up at 17-17.  The Falcons had the Panthers stopped for a field goal attempt before the last penalty.  Serenity now.

Fourth Quarter Update: Carolina 24, Atlanta 17.  Apparently my earlier optimism was unwarranted.


NFC South Update

NFC South standings after Week 2:

Carolina                       1 – 1
Tampa Bay                   1 – 1
Atlanta                         0 – 2
New Orleans                 0 – 2

Carolina – The Panthers went down to the impressive Texans (why, oh why, did we get rid of Schaub?).  Next up for the Panthers is our very own Falcon squad.

Tampa Bay – The Bucs laid one on New Orleans to win the first division game of the year and grab a share of the division lead with the Panthers.  Next up for the Bucs is St. Louis. 

Atlanta – My positive spin on the Falcons going 0-2 is that they are still only 1 game out of the division lead.  We get a chance to catch one of those teams ahead of us with a win over the Panthers.

New Orleans – The Saints, as mentioned above, went down to the Bucs.  I heard predictions of the Saints making the Super Bowl preseason; they’re not living up that so far.  The Saints will attempt to get their first victory of the year against a tough Tennessee Titan team.


Is The Harrington Era Already Over?

Byron LeftwichNot quite yet, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Falcons have signed Byron Leftwich to a 2 year, $7 million deal.  He won’t start immediately though:

For now, Leftwich will backup Harrington and No. 2 quarterback Chris Redman. He most likely won’t be activated for Sunday’s home opener vs. Carolina but that could be the last time he won’t be in uniform. The former Marshall star has completed 789 of 1,344 passes for 9,042 yards and thrown 51 touchdowns and 36 interceptions.

Reading between the lines, it looks like Harrington is on a very short leash, and that Leftwich will be the starter in a week or two pretty much no matter what. Harrington will have to be nothing short of perfect to keep his job. And with a $7 million price tag, Leftwich shouldn’t expect to wait behind Redman either. Leftwich will nominally be the 3rd stringer for now, but may start as soon as Week 4.

Interestingly, Leftwich will not get his #7 jersey.  It still technically belongs to Vick.  No word yet on what number he will wear.

I think it’s a good move for the Falcons.  I don’t know if Leftwich will work out or not, but we’re sitting in a nothing-to-lose situation right now, especially since Leftwich’s salary should be paid for with Vick money.