Falcons 31, Bills 3

The Atlanta Falcons’ improving defense left the Buffalo Bills’

offense in a familiar rut.

Matt Ryan threw three touchdown passes, including a 42-yarder to

Roddy White on Atlanta’s first play from scrimmage, and the Falcons

were never challenged in their 31-3 win over Terrell Owens and the

Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

Owens became the sixth player in NFL history with 1,000 career

receptions. He reached the milestone with an 8-yard pass from Brian

Brohm in the second quarter.

It was a rare highlight for the Bills (5-10), who were held to

178 total yards, including a season-low 40 yards rushing.

“I think for the second straight week I felt like our defense

played very solid,” said Falcons coach Mike Smith.

The Falcons, coming off a 10-7 win at the New York Jets, had two

interceptions and two sacks as the Bills converted only 2 of 10

third-down plays. They are only 7 of 45 on third-down conversions

while losing three of their last four games.

Brohm was 17 of 29 for 146 yards with two interceptions in his

NFL debut. The second-year quarterback started when Ryan

Fitzpatrick and Trent Edwards were inactive with ankle

injuries.

“I thought our guys fought, but we just didn’t have enough

firepower,” said Buffalo interim coach Perry Fewell. “We just

didn’t have enough to make the game what we wanted to make

it.”

The victory left the Falcons (8-7) in position to post

back-to-back winning records for the first time in franchise

history. The Falcons, in their 44th season and eliminated from the

playoff chase last week, close at Tampa Bay next week.

“When it comes to the playoffs and making the postseason,

things didn’t go as well as planned, but we can still finish with a

winning season,” said linebacker Mike Peterson. “I’m sure the

fans and the organization can be very happy about that.”

The Falcons led 10-0 before adding two third-quarter touchdowns.

Ryan completed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Marty Booker before

defensive end Lawrence Sidbury returned a fumble recovery 11 yards

for a 24-0 lead.

Ryan added a 5-yard scoring pass to White in the fourth

quarter.

Ryan was 18 of 35 for 250 yards. He is 13-1 as the starter at

the Georgia Dome in his two seasons.

Brohm was signed off Green Bay’s practice squad on Nov. 19.

“I thought I handled myself fine,” Brohm said. “Even though

the outcome wasn’t good, I was playing with confidence.”

Fewell said Brohm “handled himself OK” for a player who joined

the team a month ago.

“He was put in a tough position,” Fewell said. “He tried to

answer the challenge. I think he’s got a future with more reps and

more work. He has some promise there.”

From the start, Atlanta’s defense pressured Brohm and the Bills.

Jonathan Babineaux tackled Fred Jackson for a loss of 2 yards on

Buffalo’s first play and then sacked Brohm for a loss of 8 yards on

third down, forcing the first of seven punts for the Bills.

Eric Weems returned Brian Moorman’s punt 18 yards to Buffalo’s

42. On first down, White beat cornerback Reggie Corner for a

42-yard touchdown pass.

“I just wanted to go out there and make a play on it and get

our team going early,” said White, who had eight catches for 139

yards and two touchdowns. “Matt threw a good ball, and I just went

up there and got it.”

Corner started for Terrence McGee, who was placed on injured

reserve this week with a rotator cuff injury. The Bills also placed

DB Jarius Byrd on injured reserve this week, and starting

linebacker Bryan Scott was inactive with a head injury.

The Bills’ depleted defense couldn’t follow its plan of

protecting Brohm.

“We wanted to put the game on our shoulders, not his,” said

linebacker Paul Posluszny. “We didn’t do that. … They jumped on

us in a hurry. Obviously, it was a shock, but it was early. We were

anticipating getting back into it.”

Atlanta’s defense shut down the Buffalo running game. Jackson

had 13 carries for 39 yards.

Atlanta led 24-0 before Rian Lindell kicked a 42-yard field goal

late in the third quarter for Buffalo’s only points.

Owens had four catches for 39 yards. He entered the game needing

two catches to reach 1,000.

Christopher Owens and Brent Grimes had interceptions for

Atlanta.

Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez began the day six catches from 1,000. He

left with a right calf injury after making two catches for 17

yards.

The Falcons lost punter Michael Koenen to a head injury in the

third quarter and kicker Matt Bryant was limited by a hamstring

injury. Defensive end Kroy Biermann had two kickoffs, filling in

for Bryant, in the third quarter.

Notes: Ryan filled in for Koenen as the holder on an extra point

in the third quarter. Biermann was on the field prepared to attempt

the extra point until Bryant joined the huddle and made the kick.

… Backup quarterback Chris Redman is also the backup punter. He

stretched his kicking leg on the sideline, but wasn’t called on as

the Falcons kept the offense on the field for fourth-down plays.

… Falcons RB Michael Turner was inactive for the fourth time in

six games with an ankle injury. … Bryant’s 51-yard FG is his

longest since his 62-yarder, the second longest in NFL history, for

Tampa Bay against Philadelphia on Oct. 22, 2006.