NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Atlanta Falcons will dissect their latest victory happily with several areas where they can play better. The Tennessee Titans just wish they could do the same.
Devonta Freeman ran for 116 yards, and Matt Ryan overcame two interceptions with a TD pass to Julio Jones as the Atlanta Falcons edged the Titans 10-7 on Sunday.
With the win, the Falcons bounced back from their first loss this season and improved to 6-1 with Tampa Bay coming to town next. They’re not apologizing for how ugly this game may have looked.
“There’s not an ugly win in the NFL,” Freeman said. “Every win is pretty and beautiful to me. We just need to learn from our mistakes and move forward.”
The Falcons didn’t take the lead until Ryan found Jones for an 8-yard TD with 5:56 left in third quarter. That’s a touchdown that may haunt the Tennessee defense with the Titans (1-5) now losers of five straight and 15 of their last 16 dating back to last season.
“You play 60 minutes and we allowed one touchdown to slip past us and it cost us the game,” Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey said.
Here are some things to know from the Falcons’ win:
OFFENSIVE FUNK: It’s strange to say the Falcons are in a funk after outgaining Tennessee 378-256 and holding the ball for nearly 35 minutes, but Jones said that’s exactly where they are. Atlanta had four drives of four plays or less and turned it over on downs once with an interception in the end zone on another. They had six penalties for 53 yards.
“Obviously when we got the ball on the 1-yard line, we’ve got to get it in,” Ryan said after being stopped twice 6 inches from the goal line.
THREE STRAIGHT FOR FREEMAN: Freeman now has topped 100 yards rushing in three straight games, becoming the first Falcons running back to do that since Michael Turner in 2009. Freeman says he has confidence. “I’ve never done it on the NFL level, but I’ve done it on the college level and on the high school level,” Freeman said. “I always believe in myself. I can do anything I want to do.”
MISSED CALL: The Titans weren’t happy with officials missing Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn grabbing Mettenberger by the face mask on his first interception on second-and-goal at the 6. Falcons linebacker Paul Worrilow picked off the pass, ending the Titans’ chance to score right before halftime. A blindside block penalty on the return backed Atlanta up and erasing any chance at points. If the penalty had been called on Clayborn, at worst the Titans could have kicked a field goal. Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said a receiver was wide open in the end zone on the play itself.
Asked about being hit in the face, Mettenberger said: “Yeah I usually don’t throw it 5 yards to a linebacker. It was just an unfortunate play. It wasn’t lucky for us to not get that call.”
THE PLANE, THE PLANE: Jones said he thought he got the ball over the end zone when he stretched the ball over the line at the right pylon as he went out of bounds. Officials didn’t agree, even after Atlanta coach Dan Quinn challenged the play. That turned his catch from a clinching, 4-yard D into a 3-yard reception set 6 inches outside the goal line.
TURNOVERS: The Falcons had three turnovers each of the previous two games and cut that down to two against Tennessee. David Bass tipped a Ryan pass into the air to himself, setting up Tennessee’s only touchdown in the second quarter. Titans linebacker Avery Williamson picked off the other in the end zone. But undrafted rookie safety Robenson Therezie got the biggest turnover, picking off Mettenberger pass with 1:31 left to seal the win.
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