ATLANTA — Roddy White could have been the hero for the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
Instead, he accepted blame for the team’s first home loss of the season.
The Falcons, trailing the Broncos 24-20 late in the game, drove from their 24-yard line into Denver territory. With less than 2 minutes left, White had a chance for a go-ahead touchdown catch on a third-down play from the Denver 45. White had a step on Denver cornerback Marquand Manuel but he dropped the pass from Matt Ryan.
"I have to go out there and make those plays," White said. "I feel responsible for the loss today. I had an opportunity and I didn’t take advantage of it."
Even with the key drop, White assumed his normal role as the Falcons’ leading receiver. He had five catches for 102 yards. Michael Jenkins added five catches for 55 yards, but the Falcons didn’t have a scoring pass.
"When they expect me to go out there and make plays for us to win, I have to go out there and make those plays," White said. "It’s a tough one. We should be celebrating right now, but we have to bounce back and play hard next week."
The pass appeared to fall into White’s hands, but Ryan said he could have made a better throw.
"It was a great attempt (by White)," Ryan said, adding his pass "appeared to be wider than it needed.
"I threw it too much to the outside, but luckily Roddy made the adjustment and almost made the catch."
What a rush
The Broncos managed to beat the Falcons at their strength.
The Falcons have ranked among rushing leaders all season, but Denver finished with 124 yards rushing on 25 carries. The Falcons had 35 carries for 114 yards. The Broncos had a successful game on the ground with a new group of running backs. Peyton Hillis moved from fullback to running back and led the team with 10 carries for 44 yards and two touchdowns.
P.J. Pope added four carries for 35 yards. Tatum Bell, who re-signed with the team this week, had seven carries for 34 yards.
"It was the run game that got things going for us," said Denver quarterback Jay Cutler.
Hillis scored on runs of 7 and 2 yards.
"We knew that he was going to get the opportunity to make plays, and he answered it today when he got the chance with two touchdowns," Bell said. "The same thing that he did in practice translated to the field."
Doing the Dirty Bird
The 1998 NFC champion Falcons were back for a 10-year reunion, and they brought the Dirty Bird dance with them.
Jamal Anderson made sure of that. Former coach Dan Reeves and many members of the 1998 team were honored at halftime. Quarterback Chris Chandler and kicker Morten Andersen drew loud ovations.
Then came Anderson, the star running back, who came out of the tunnel bobbing and swaying to his version of the Dirty Bird dance, the celebration he and tight end O.J. Santiago helped to make famous®
Anderson’s appearance was a surprise. He wasn’t included on the list of attendees expected to appear. Among the other players back for the 10-year anniversary were cornerback Ray Buchanan, fullback Bob Christian, linebacker Cornelius Bennett, receiver Terance Mathis, linebacker Jessie Tuggle and defensive end Chuck Smith. Safety Eugene Robinson, who was arrested on charges of soliciting a prostitute on the eve of the Super Bowl loss to Denver, did not attend.
Matt Prater, who began his 2007 season in Atlanta, has found a home in Denver this season. Prater has been good on 17 of 20 field goals this season, including each of his five attempts from at least 50 yards.
Prater was 1-for-2 against the Falcons.
Perhaps he should have lined up one yard deeper on his one miss. Prater was wide left on a 49-yard attempt before coming back with a 20-yarder.