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Problem Areas Few and Far Between for Top-Ranked Falcons

Not perfect, but just about. That’s the way to look at Sunday’s 27-3 win over the San Diego Chargers in the 115-degree Southern California heat. There were problems. But they were few and hard between. To point them out would be to nitpick.

But it’s not as if Mike Smith isn’t doing just that. Here are some of the negatives from Sunday’s victory, which moves the Falcons to 3-0 and into first place in the NFL’s weekly power rankings.

-The Falcons’ had given up a league-best two sacks entering week three play, but saw that number double against San Diego. Ryan was sacked twice for a combined loss of 10 yards. Veteran linebacker and sack-specialist Antwan Barnes got to Ryan for a nine yard stuff in the third quarter, a quarter after Vaughn Martin took down Ryan for a loss of one. The Chargers’ defensive line is the best the Falcons have seen so far on their tour of the AFC West, and so it should ensure the O-Line is ready for Charles Johnson, Greg Hardy and Jon Beason and the rest of the Panthers on Sunday.

-Rookie long-snapper Josh Harris botched a snap on the Falcons’ first PAT attempt, snapping the ball out of the reach of holder Matt Bosher. The failed conversion did not prove costly, but did prevent the Falcons from walking out of The Q with a four-score victory, which, if nothing else, is fun to say.

-Matt Ryan threw his first interception of 2012, and in doing so snapped his franchise-record 272 pass attempts without an INT streak. Ryan’s pick came courtesy of Antoine Cason’s efforts in the fourth quarter.

-For the third straight week, the Falcons were victimized by a 30+ yard run. Jackie Battle put together a 52 yard run in the second half of Sunday’s game, and joins Willis McGahee and Jamaal Charles as the third running back to rattle off a major ground game against the Atlanta defense. All three runs have obviously proved inconsequential, though as Fox game announcer Tim Ryan pointed out during the broadcast, the Falcons’ run defense has been noticeably porous at times this year.

-Obviously, there isn’t much to complain about. But there’s always room for improvement. Both on the field and off the field, in fact, as the legal woes continue. Defensive end John Abraham was arrested on misdemeanor obstruction charges earlier today, roughly a week after running back Michael Turner was booked into jail for DUI. We’ll keep you posted once details emerge, but for now just know that Mike Smith says he fully expects Abraham to suit up Sunday against Carolina.


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