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Falcons hold on to ruin Redskins’ comeback

Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher (59) moves in to tackle Atlanta Falcons running back Jason Snelling (44) during the second half at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the Redskins 27-26. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher (59) moves in to tackle Atlanta Falcons running back Jason Snelling (44) during the second half at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the Redskins 27-26. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Sports Xchange

NFL Team Report - Atlanta Falcons - INSIDE SLANT

After Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins led a scoring drive to pull his team within one point of tying the Atlanta Falcons, his pass attempt for a two-point PAT was deflected, allowing the Falcons to escape with a 27-26 win Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

Atlanta defensive back Desmond Trufant deflected Cousins’ two-point pass attempt to secure the Falcons’ win.

“I was telling myself that I had to make a big play after the one I gave up,” said Trufant, who also had an interception in addition to game-saving pass breakup. “I didn’t want to end the game on that note, so I just kept fighting and did what I had to do to help get the win.”

Cousins finished 29 of 45 for 381 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan completed 29 of 38 passes for 210 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tony Gonzalez in the first quarter.

With only draft positioning at stake, the two disappointing teams committed a comedy of errors in the first half, at one point exchanging fumbles on three consecutive plays. There were five turnovers overall in the first half, including a bad interception by Ryan that led to Kai Forbath’s second field goal and a 20-17 Redskins lead at intermission.

“There was a stretch there early in the first half, where we really had some issues with some explosive plays,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “It will be a great learning experience for our young players that were out there playing, but we found a way to win the ball game.”

The Redskins (3-11) fell behind quickly, 14-0, and were in danger of a complete meltdown, before Cousins mounted a comeback. Cousins completed 11 of 17 passes for 234 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in the first half. Griffin averaged 246 passing yards per game in his 13 starts.

Twice the Falcons (4-10) failed to score touchdowns on first-and-goal opportunities from inside the Washington 5-yard line. In the first half, they had to settle for a Matt Bryant field goal. Early in the third quarter, they came away with nothing, after running back Steven Jackson was stuffed on fourth-and-1 from 1-yard line.

Jackson got another chance two plays later, after Falcons safety William Moore picked off Cousins and returned it to the Washington 2-yard line. Jackson scored his second touchdown of the game on his next carry, putting the Falcons up 24-20. They took that lead into the fourth quarter.

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NFL Team Report - Atlanta Falcons - NOTES, QUOTES

—TE Tony Gonzalez became the fifth player in NFL history to reach 15,000 receiving yards in NFL history. He joins WRs Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens, Randy Moss and Isaac Bruce as the only players to reach the milestone. Gonzalez received a standing ovation from the Georgia Dome crowd, after the announcement of his accomplishment.

—S Thomas DeCoud (concussion) was inactive.

—LB Sean Weatherspoon injured his knee and did not return to the game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I’m not going to comment on Coach (Mike) Shanahan’s strategy. He chooses to do what he deems best for his football team. We were prepared (for the two-point conversion). We were able to match with the personnel. They ran a full wide receiver set. We were able to get our six defensive backs out on the field and we executed the pivotal play in the ballgame.” — Falcons coach Mike Smith.

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NFL Team Report - Atlanta Falcons - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

What we learned:

A much-maligned defense has become more opportunistic as of late, forcing 11 turnovers in its last three games. Safety William Moore and cornerback Desmond Trufant intercepted Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins. Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux recovered two fumbles, and defensive end Malliciah Goodman and Moore also recovered fumbles.

—Tight end Tony Gonzalez says he is retiring after the season, but the veteran can still play at a high level. He had six catches for 62 yards and put a nifty move on two Washington defensive backs before scoring a 13-yard touchdown. Gonzalez went over the 15,000-yard-mark for his career during the game. He is only the fifth player to reach that mark.

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