Falcons use strong finish to beat Redskins 25-19 in OT
ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Falcons are the first 5-0 team in NFL history to trail in the fourth quarter of four games. They rallied again Sunday, taking the lead with 24 seconds left, only to have to score again in overtime to stay perfect.
They beat Redskins 25-19 in overtime on Robert Alford’s 59-yard interception return.
Whatever it takes to rally past NFC East opponents, the Falcons have done it, beating the Eagles, Giants, Cowboys and Redskins.
”The game is not over until the clock says zeroes,” Alford said. ”This team … we’re always going to grind until the end.”
Sunday’s finish was frantic.
The Redskins (2-3) went up 16-12 on Dustin Hopkins’ 28-yard field goal with 2:38 left in regulation.
Atlanta looked to be in great shape when Devonta Freeman scored on a 13-yard touchdown pass with 56 seconds left for an 18-16 lead.
The play was reversed by replay, however, because the ball popped out as he crashed in the end zone. ”They stole one from me,” Freeman said.
Two plays later, he scored on a draw play, breaking a tackle attempt by Redskins linebacker Keenan Robinson with 24 seconds left. After the extra point, Atlanta led 19-16.
That wasn’t enough because Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins completed passes of 20, 19 and 7 yards to take the ball to the Atlanta 34. Hopkins hit a 52-yard field goal as time expired to trigger overtime, when Alford’s pick and return won it.
”I trusted my instincts and film study,” Alford said. ”It was something they run. I just jumped it, and it was there for me to make a play.”
Some things we learned from the Falcons’ narrow win over the Redskins:
PUMP THE BRAKES: Atlanta’s offensive line, which earned praise for solid play in recent weeks, was less impressive. Ryan was sacked three times in the first half after taking six combined sacks over the first four games. Atlanta center Mike Person did not return after suffering a sprained ankle in the third quarter. He was replaced by reserve guard James Stone, who had a couple sketchy shotgun snaps to Ryan.
REDSKINS RAN ROTTEN: The Falcons all but throttled the Redskins’ league-leading rushing offense while limiting Washington to 51 yards on 24 carries. Rookie running back Matt Jones did not return after spraining his big toe.
”They did an excellent job of stopping our runs,” said Washington coach Jay Gruden. ”It was just really hard to get the momentum going with our running game. That cost us rhythm in calling plays.”
MISSED CHANCES: Atlanta suffered just two turnovers in its first four games, but Ryan coughed it up three times with his third and fourth interceptions of the season and the Falcons’ first lost fumble.
Washington, however, converted just one of Atlanta’s turnovers into three points. ”That’s how you win games, from points off turnovers,” said Redskins running back Alfred Morris. ”We didn’t do that, and it came back to haunt us.”
FREEMAN STILL HOT: Freeman continued his roll of productive games with 27 carries for a career-high 153 yards and a score.
He had 30 carries for 141 yards and three touchdowns in a Sept. 27 win in Dallas. He added three more touchdowns in last week’s win over the Texans. He is the first player to rush for seven touchdowns in his first three starts.
”I’m thinking touchdown every play. Whenever I get the ball, seize the moment,” he said. ”A lot of people thought I would just catch the ball out of the backfield and block. I’m very comfortable. I just want some more.”
POINTS WASTED: The Falcons also left scoring opportunities unrealized. Kicker Matt Bryant, who made his first seven field goals of the season, clanked a 38-yard try off the right upright to end the first half, and a 48-yarder off the left upright on the first drive of the second half. The 40-year-old veteran made 29 of 32 field goals last season, and 24 of 27 in 2013.
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