Despite Matt Ryan’s 5 picks, Falcons top Cardinals 23-19

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Ryan completed 28 of 48 for 301 yards.

LaRod Stephens-Howling accounted for most of Arizona’s yards, carrying 22 times for 127 yards. Lindley was 9 of 20 for 64 yards. Skelton was benched in the second quarter after going 2 of 7 for 6 yards.

“It’s extremely frustrating,” Cardinals center Lyle Sendlein said. “If you would have told us yesterday we’d get the ball four or five times on their side of the 50, I’d have said, ‘Yeah, we’re going to beat them, and beat them by a large margin.”

The turnover tone was set on the very first snap.

Ryan threw a little behind White, the ball bouncing off his hands and right into the arms of Arizona safety Rashad Johnson for the interception. He returned it to the Atlanta 9, and the Cardinals punched it in two plays later on a 3-yard run by Stephens-Howling.

On Arizona’s next possession, Stephens-Howling broke off a 40-yard run to set up Feely’s 48-yard field goal. The Falcons were down 10-0 before they even gained a yard.

Ryan threw two more interceptions before the first quarter was done, the second of which led to another field goal by Feely to make it 13-0. But the Falcons rallied to tie it up by halftime, coming up with a huge defensive play after the Cardinals brought in Lindley.

As the rookie dropped back to pass on third down, John Abraham came in from the blind side and got his hand on the ball a split-second before Lindley’s arm came forward. While both teams mostly stood around, thinking it was an incomplete pass, Abraham motioned for Jonathan Babineaux to pick up it up. The 300-pound tackle did just that, running 15 yards for a stunning touchdown.

“Multiple players told me they heard a whistle,” Whisenhunt insisted.

With a nod to Gonzalez, Babineaux feigned like was going to dunk the ball over the crossbar, but just flipped it over instead.

Call it a celebratory layup.

“We’re always taught to finish play,” Babineaux said. “I looked at the ref. I saw him running, so I figured the play was still going.”

NOTES: Stephens-Howling had only 184 yards rushing coming into the game. … The Falcons lost CB Asante Samuel (right shoulder) in the first half, and WR Julio Jones (right ankle) hobbled off in the fourth quarter. …. Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson was slowed by a hamstring injury.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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