Jaguars 14

(4-10, 1-6 away)

Falcons 41

(9-5, 5-2 home)

Coverage: NFL

8:20 PM ET, December 15, 2011

Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA 

1 2 3 4 T
JAX 0 0 7 714
ATL 10 17 14 041

Top Performers

Passing: M. Ryan (ATL) - 224 YDS, 3 TD

Rushing: M. Jones-Drew (JAX) - 17 CAR, 112 YDS

Receiving: R. White (ATL) - 10 REC, 135 YDS, 2 TD

Matt Ryan tosses 3 TD passes, Falcons rout Jaguars

Associated Press

ATLANTA -- Ho hum, another winning season for the Atlanta Falcons.

That's not such a big deal anymore.

This team has much higher goals.

Putting together their most complete effort of the season, the Falcons clinched a fourth straight winning record with a 41-14 rout of the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night. Matt Ryan had another big game, throwing three touchdown passes in less than three quarters of work, and John Abraham terrorized rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert with 3½ sacks.

Atlanta (9-5) strengthened its hold on an NFC wild card, shrugging off the immediate accomplishment of another above-.500 finish.

"Our expectations are much higher than winning seasons," coach Mike Smith said. "I'm glad we've been able to accomplish that as an organization and a football team. But believe me, it's not one of those expectations we really want to talk about. If we're where we think we are as an organization and a football team, that's expected each and every year."

It wasn't so long ago that nine wins was a big deal. The Falcons went through the first 42 years of their existence without so much as back-to-back winning seasons. All that changed when Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff took over in 2008.

Since then, Atlanta has been to the playoffs two times and is closing in on a third appearance.

"I can't speak to the people who came before, but I know since Thomas and I had the opportunity to be here, we've just kind of put our heads down and gone to work," Smith said. "When you do that, good things usually happen. We are not finished, believe me. Our expectations and internal goals are much higher than having a winning football season."

This one was over by halftime. Atlanta led 27-0 when the teams trotted to the locker room, Gabbert and the shellshocked Jaguars (4-10) saddled with a net passing total of minus-1 yard.

Atlanta stretched out its lead to 41-0 before Jacksonville scored on a blocked punt. Going back to the previous week, when the Falcons overcame a 16-point halftime deficit at Carolina, they ripped off 65 points in a row over five quarters.

Now that's more like it from a team that was projected as a Super Bowl contender but had not quite lived up to expectations.

"I feel like we've hit our stride," said Roddy White, who had 10 catches for 135 yards and became just the eighth receiver in NFL history with 80 receptions and 1,000 yards in five straight seasons.

Gabbert had one of his worst games in a miserable rookie season, coughing up the ball twice on hits by Abraham. Both fumbles led to Atlanta scores, with defensive tackle Corey Peters scooping up the second one and trotting to the end zone early in the third quarter for a touchdown that ended any thought of the Jaguars getting back in the game.

"It wasn't just me," said Abraham, who came into the game with only five sacks on the season. "The whole team was able to get to the quarterback."

Ryan was 19 of 26 for 224 yards and three touchdowns, with a season-high rating of 137.3. White caught two of the scoring passes, Julio Jones the other.

Gabbert was 12 of 22 for 141 yards, also throwing an interception during a truly awful night full of bad decisions when he wasn't running for his life. He was sacked five times and got most of his yards on a meaningless final drive, which resulted in the only offensive touchdown of the night, a 16-yard pass to Chastin West with 59 seconds remaining.

"It wasn't our best night," Gabbert said. "We've just got to learn from it, take the positives out of it and just get better."

The injury-riddled Jaguars, playing out the season with an interim coach and a new owner, were coming off their best performance, having scored 41 straight points in a 41-14 victory over Tampa Bay. But, playing for the third time in 11 days, they couldn't build any momentum for a strong finish.

Shahid Khan must have been wondering why he paid an estimated $760 million to buy the team from original Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver, a deal that was unanimously approved by NFL owners a day earlier.

"You've just got to keep fighting," Gabbert said. "Things didn't go our way early, but what can you do? It's football."

On the first snap of the game, Michael Turner burst off left guard for 15 yards, and the Falcons were off and running. Ryan capped the opening drive by stepping up to avoid the pressure, flipping a short pass to Jones, then watching the rookie turn on an impressive burst of speed for a 29-yard touchdown.

Gabbert got an idea of what he'd be up against on his first snap. Abraham shrugged off a blocker and threw the quarterback for a 10-yard loss. The rookie finally completed a pass on the final play of the opening quarter, but Sean Weatherspoon sniffed out the screen and slammed Marcedes Lewis for a 4-yard loss.

Matt Bryant kicked a 33-yard field goal that made it 10-0, then another brutal mistake by the Jaguars early in the second quarter helped turn this one into a rout. Jarett Dillard let a punt slip right through his hands, and Weatherspoon fell on it at the Jacksonville 5. The next play, Turner rumbled into the end zone standing to make it 17-0.

The Falcons weren't done, not by a long shot. Ryan finished off a nine-play, 72-yard by hooking up with White in the back on the end zone on a 6-yard touchdown, a pass that Tony Gonzalez was nearly in position to catch as well.

Now down 24-0, the Jaguars couldn't even get off the field without turning it over again. Abraham popped the ball loose from Gabbert, and after a wild scramble Curtis Lofton finally fell on it at the Jacksonville 19. That set up Bryant's second field goal, a 31-yarder on the final play of the half.

"I've just got to get rid of the ball," Gabbert said. "I can't take those sacks and those fumbles. That's completely on me."

Game notes

Jacksonville had negative net yards passing most of the game and finished with just 91, actually lowering what was already the NFL's worst passing average. ... Jones finished with five catches for 85 yards. ... Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew, the NFL's leading rusher, had 112 yards on 17 carries.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs1220
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays4668
Total Yards207373
Yards per play4.55.5
Total Drives1113
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)1-11-5
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs11

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

atlTD10:58Julio Jones 29 Yard Pass From Matt Ryan (Matt Bryant Kick is Good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 75 yds, 4:09
atlFG3:22Matt Bryant 33 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 9 plays, 43 yds, 5:33
atlTD13:07Michael Turner 5 Yard Run (Matt Bryant Kick is Good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 2 yds, 1:41
atlTD1:56Roddy White 6 Yard Pass From Matt Ryan (Matt Bryant Kick is Good)
Drive info: 9 plays, 72 yds, 3:55
atlFG0:03Matt Bryant 31 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 4 plays, 6 yds, 0:46
atlTD13:41Corey Peters 13 Yard Fumble Return (Matt Bryant Kick is Good)
Drive info: 3 plays, -1 yds, 1:27
atlTD6:47Roddy White 29 Yard Pass From Matt Ryan (Matt Bryant Kick is Good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 79 yds, 5:07
jaxTD2:24Zach Potter 46 Yard Return of Blocked Punt (Josh Scobee Kick is Good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 7 yds, 2:25
jaxTD1:04Chastin West 16 Yard Pass From Blaine Gabbert (Josh Scobee Kick is Good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 85 yds, 2:14

Research Notes

NEXT LEVEL: Matt Ryan completed 11 of 12 passes and two of his three touchdown passes with no interceptions on throws inside the field numbers Thursday. Ryan entered the game with 11 of his 12 interceptions on such throws, tied for the third-highest total in the league.
NEXT LEVEL: John Abraham became the sixth player since the start of 2001 to record at least 3.5 sacks and force at least 2 fumbles in a single game. All of Abraham's sacks came in four-man pass rushes, making him the only player in the past two seasons to record more than three sacks via standard pass rushes in a single game.
NEXT LEVEL: Matt Ryan targeted Roddy White on 62 percent of his pass attempts against the Jaguars, the second-highest target percentage for a single player since the start of the 2008 season (Kyle Orton to Brandon Marshall, 68.3 percent 12/13/2009 vs Colts). All seven of Ryan's passes that traveled at least 15 yards in the air were intended for White.
Roddy White notched his fifth season of at least 1,000 yards receiving, a Falcons franchise record. White is just one of 10 active receivers with at least 5 seasons of 1,000 yards receiving.

WhiteRoddy White is within range of passing Terance Mathis this season for the most receiving yards in Falcons history. His 135 yards Thursday night puts him 171 yards off the franchise mark.

From Elias: Zach Potter's 46-yard block punt return TD is tied for the 2nd-longest since the merger.

TurnerMichael Turner scored his 48th rushing touchdown with the Falcons Thursday night, tying him with Gerald Riggs for the most in team history.

This is the 4th time in franchise history the Falcons have had a lead of at least 34 points through 3 quarters. The last time it happened was November 24, 2002 at Carolina when they led 41-0 and won 41-0. That was also the last time they scored 41+ points through 3 quarters.

ESPN Stats & Information