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10/07/2012 9:26 PM EDT
5-0 Falcons knock out RG3, beat Redskins 24-17
ATLANTA 24, WASHINGTON 17

By JOSEPH WHITE
AP Sports Writer

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) -- Robert Griffin III isn't the type of
quarterback to run out of bounds, and Sean Weatherspoon knew it.
The Atlanta Falcons linebacker kept up the pursuit and went for
the tackle. His upper body rammed into the helmet of the rookie
who doesn't shy from contact.



Griffin was down and done. A mild concussion, according to
Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan. On a day in which the
Falcons' usually powerful offense was a bit out of sync, the
defense had made a play that changed the game.



Matt Ryan went on to lead three scoring drives in the fourth
quarter Sunday, scraping together enough points for a 24-17 win
that gave the Falcons their first 5-0 start in franchise
history.



"I felt like he was still turning upfield, so I was just trying
to make a play," Weatherspoon said. "Most quarterbacks would
probably slide out of bounds or run out of bounds, but he's a
tough guy."



And there was no dispute. It was a clean hit.



"It felt like a good play," Weatherspoon said. "I think it gave
us a little energy."



The play turned a third-and-goal from the 3 to a fourth-and-goal
from the 5 late in the third quarter. The Redskins then kicked a
field goal to take 10-7 lead, and Griffin's replacement, fellow
rookie Kirk Cousins, managed one big play in his NFL debut that
put Washington in front one more time in the fourth quarter.



But, otherwise, the post-Griffin section of the game belonged to
the Falcons. Julio Jones dexterously got both feet inbounds on
an 18-yard catch just beyond the pylon. Matt Bryant stayed
perfect on the year with a 53-yard field goal. Michael Turner
ran 13 yards for the go-ahead score with 2:46 to play. The
defense intercepted Cousins twice in the final two minutes.



The Falcons, mistakes and all, remain the only unbeaten team in
the NFC.



"I don't know why you want to ask me any questions," Atlanta
receiver Roddy White joked as he stood at his locker. "We stunk
it up in early in the game."



The Falcons didn't score until the final minute of the first
half, but Ryan kept throwing and throwing and throwing. He
finished with 34 completions on 52 attempt for 345 yards with
two touchdowns and one interception - a screen pass picked off
by Washington linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and run back 28 yards for
the game's first score. Ryan also fumbled away a snap, Atlanta's
first lost fumble of the season.



Ryan guided Atlanta to his 18th career game-winning drive in the
fourth quarter or overtime. That is the most by a quarterback in
his first five seasons in the Super Bowl era.



Tony Gonzalez caught 13 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown.
The TD was the 99th of his career, tying Gonzalez for eighth in
NFL history with Hall of Famer Don Hutson.



Jones had 10 receptions for 94 yards. White snagged four passes
for 68 yards. Turner ran for 67 yards on 18 carries. Impressive
numbers - until you remember that Washington has one of the
worst pass defenses in the NFL.



"We were our own worst enemies in the first half," Atlanta coach
Mike Smith said.



The Redskins (2-3), losing their eighth consecutive home game,
were meanwhile left to deal with an ironic wound. There was
abundant concern that Griffin was susceptible to injury when he
was taking hard hits while running option plays frequently in
his first three games.



But Shanahan scaled back the option over the last two weeks.
Griffin didn't have a designed run play Sunday. He ended up
getting hurt while scrambling because he couldn't find an open
receiver - something that every quarterback does.



Team spokesman Tony Wyllie said the Heisman Trophy winner was
examined by an independent neurologist before being sent home
from the stadium and will be evaluated again Monday. Griffin
also got a cut on his chin.



"When he wasn't really sure what the score was, what quarter it
was, we knew he had a mild concussion," Shanahan said.



About three hours after the game, Griffin tweeted: "I'm ok and I
think after all the testing I will play next week."



Cousins, a fourth-round pick from Michigan State, went
three-and-out in his first possession. Sav Rocca shanked the
punt, and the Falcons drove 47 yards to take a 14-10 lead on
Jones' catch.



But Cousins put the Redskins ahead again about a minute later,
when Santana Moss ran deep down the middle without a defender
anywhere near him. The 77-yard pass made the score 17-14 early
in the fourth quarter.



Ryan came back with two drives that gave the Falcons the win.
Bryant's field goal tied the game, and Turner's run was the
decisive score.



Cousins had two more chances to rally the Redskins, but Dunta
Robinson and Thomas DeCoud picked him off to end Washington's
final two drives.



"With Robert not being in there, definitely allowed them to
change up their scheme," said Redskins running back Alfred
Morris, who ran 115 yards on 18 carries. "They were flying
downhill a lot faster. It definitely affected our running game.
Once he wasn't in anymore, they were just able to pin their ears
back."



NOTES: Washington K Billy Cundiff - already on thin ice after
missing three field goals the previous week - was wide right
from 31 yards in the second quarter. ... Falcons injuries: RB
Antone Smith (hamstring) and LB Stephen Nicholas (ankle).



---



Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

---



Online: http://bigstory.ap.org/NFL-Pro32 and
http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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