ATLANTA » If this was a Super Bowl preview, that’s going to be quite a game in Big D.
Roddy White hauled in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan with 20 seconds remaining and the Atlanta Falcons, after squandering a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter, rallied to beat the Baltimore Ravens 26-21 last night in a prime-time matchup between two of the NFL’s top teams.
"If you like football, like intense football, that was it," said Falcons coach Mike Smith, a former Ravens assistant. "That might have been the most the intense game I’ve ever been involved with at any level of football."
With commissioner Roger Goodell looking on, just adding to the big-game feel, the Falcons (7-2) appeared to be in control after Ryan hooked up with White on a 4-yard touchdown with 11:34 remaining to make it 19-7. Curiously, Smith didn’t attempt a 2-point conversion, which nearly came back to bite him.
After barely touching the ball in the first half, Baltimore (6-3) rallied behind Joe Flacco’s two fourth-quarter TD passes, the second of them a 9-yarder to Todd Heap with 1:05 left.
Back came the Falcons, who improved to 18-1 at home with Ryan as the starter. He needed less than a minute to pull off an 80-yard drive, hooking up with Michael Jenkins on a huge third-down pass along the sideline before going back to his favorite receiver for the winner.
Ryan rolled to his left to get away from the pressure, and White appeared to push off Josh Wilson with his right hand to get free, sending the cornerback tumbling to the turf. Ryan delivered the ball perfectly, White caught it with no one around and cruised into the end zone.
Wilson hopped up, screaming for a flag. But the official kept the yellow flags in his back pocket and held up both arms. Touchdown.
"Yeah, you’ve got to do whatever you’ve got to do to win," he said. "I’m going to leave it up to the referee."
White came into the game listed as questionable after hurting his right knee in last Sunday’s win over Tampa Bay and practicing only once during the short week. But he danced out of the tunnel during the pregame introductions with a big smile and clearly wasn’t bothered.
He finished with 12 catches for 138 yards. Ryan threw a career-high 50 passes, completing 32 of them for 316 yards and three touchdowns.
"After they scored, we were on the sideline. We just looked at each other and smiled, man," White said. "We just relish moments like this. We knew we were going to go down there and get what we needed to win this game."
FALCONS 26, RAVENS 21
Atl–Snelling 28 pass from Ryan (Bryant kick), 11:24.
Atl–FG Bryant 28, :17.
Atl–FG Bryant 51, 12:51.
Bal–Boldin 5 pass from Flacco (Cundiff kick), 6:50.
Atl–White 4 pass from Ryan (Bryant kick), 11:34.
Bal–Mason 6 pass from Flacco (Cundiff kick), 5:42.
Bal–Heap 9 pass from Flacco (Cundiff kick), 1:05.
Atl–White 33 pass from Ryan (pass failed), :20.
|Total Net Yards||320||362|
|Time of Possession||24:51||35:09|
RUSHING–Baltimore, Rice 12-59, Stallworth 2-34, Flacco 3-13, McGahee 3-8, L.McClain 1-2. Atlanta, Turner 17-39, Snelling 3-11, Mughelli 2-5, Ryan 1-5.
PASSING–Baltimore, Flacco 22-34-1-215. Atlanta, Ryan 32-50-0-316.
RECEIVING–Baltimore, Boldin 5-50, Heap 4-57, Mason 4-48, Rice 3-43, Houshmandzadeh 2-14, L.McClain 2-3, Dickson 1-4, McGahee 1-(minus 4). Atlanta, White 12-138, Snelling 6-56, Jenkins 5-48, Gonzalez 4-38, Finneran 2-16, Douglas 1-12, Palmer 1-6, Mughelli 1-2.
MISSED FIELD GOALS–None.