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Falcons vs. Lions: 5 Things We Learned from Falcons 23-16 Win

Mike FosterCorrespondent IOctober 23, 2011

Falcons vs. Lions: 5 Things We Learned from Falcons 23-16 Win

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    The Atlanta Falcons reclaimed a winning record today in Detroit, taking a 23-16 win against Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions.

    Penalties were the theme of the game, with 19 total yellow flags. Detroit, despite being very competitive, had a hand full of costly penalties that arguably were the difference in the game.

    Atlanta's late pass interference, which was retracted after an official review indicated the pass had been tipped, preserved the team's victory.

    The Falcons saw another great day from tailback Michael Turner, and tight end Tony Gonzalez eclipsed former Colts receiver Marvin Harrison to become the NFL's second all-time leading receiver, behind Jerry Rice.

    Here are five things we learned in Atlanta's victory.

Matt Ryan's Accuracy Could Become an Issue

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    Matt Ryan has had somewhat of a down year so far, and things didn't go all too well against Detroit today.

    The Falcons quarterback completed a solid 20-of-34 passes, but his two interceptions held back the offense.

    Luckily, Atlanta's defense had a strong outing and found a way to slow down Detroit's potent offensive attack.

    Ryan has been missing a lot of throws that we used to see him make on a regular basis. He's not missing terribly, but he's missing just enough to the point where it's making a huge difference in the passing game production.

    Ryan has historically struggled with deep balls, and if it was not for the amazing finger tips from Roddy White, he might have sailed a touchdown opportunity again today.

Michael Turner Is Returning to Form

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    For the second straight week, Michael Turner was the driving force of Atlanta's offense.

    Turner carried 27 of Atlanta's 31 run plays today, and he did not disappoint.

    The Pro Bowl tailback finished with 122 yards, including a clutch 50-yard carry in the second half.

    Turner has begun to show the combination of inside power and outside explosiveness that we had not seen in the past 10 games or so.

    Atlanta has found a new commitment to the running game after their try at an "explosive" offense didn't pan out early in the year.

Jahvid Best Is Very Valuable to Detroit's Offense

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    Without the dynamic ability of tailback Jahvid Best, Detroit's offense lost a part of their identity today—and it showed on the scoreboard.

    Matthew Stafford threw for only 183 yards against an Atlanta defense that had been porous in their first slate of games.

    Calvin Johnson, aside from one deep touchdown pass, was not a consistent factor, and Detroit's running game was only existent to set up passing plays.

    Atlanta didn't feel pressure from Detroit's running game today, and it showed.

    The Falcons had their best pass rushing game of the year and made life difficult for Detroit's offense, which finished with just 263 total yards.

Atlanta's Running Game Might Have Taken a Huge Hit

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    The Falcons could be without their star fullback in the coming weeks.

    Pro Bowl fullback Ovie Mughelli went down late in the game with what appeared to be a significant knee injury.

    Mughelli has been a very important part of Atlanta's running game and is also one of the more versatile fullbacks in the entire league.

    If Mughelli has been injured badly enough to miss time in the coming weeks, the Falcons could struggle on the ground.

    Jason Snelling, a converted tailback, entered the game for Mughelli. Snelling is big enough and has experience at fullback, but he has been primarily a tailback for the past few years.

    We will see how versatile Snelling is, but also Atlanta's coming bye week could be good news for Mughelli. It all depends on how severe the injury really is.

Tony Gonzalez Is a Living Legend

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    Falcons and former Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez made a major leap in the NFL record books on Sunday.

    With his four catches, Gonzalez passed former Indianapolis Colts receiver Marvin Harrison in the all-time receptions ranking.

    Gonzalez, now trailing only Jerry Rice, has 1,103 career receptions.

    He's a 15-year veteran who possibly has a few more years left.

    I think all Falcons fans can be proud to have No. 88 in a Falcons uniform.

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