Falcons vs. Redskins
When: 1 p.m. Sunday
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta
On TV: FOX
FLOWERY BRANCH — Michael Turner did some self-scouting last week to find out why he wasn't breaking off big runs for the Atlanta Falcons.
What was wrong with the Pro Bowl running back?
"I just had to run with the same determination I had last year," Turner said Thursday. "Run with kind of a chip on my shoulder."
After rushing 20 times for 151 yards and one touchdown in a Week 8 loss at New Orleans, Turner is feeling confident again.
The sixth-year NFL veteran was noticeably more upbeat in the locker room than he seemed the previous two weeks after totaling just 80 yards on a combined 31 carries during a win over Chicago and a loss at Dallas.
"It's been pretty frustrating because you work hard every week and you want to see the results," Turner said. "You go back and say, 'What am I doing wrong? What am I doing differently?' The touchdowns have been there. I just had to get the big running plays in."
All that's missing now is for Turner to produce big results in an Atlanta win. Just once in the first six games did he rush for 100 yards — when the Falcons beat Carolina in Week 2.
Scoring, however, has come easier for Turner, who has eight rushing touchdowns. Atlanta (4-3) could find it tough to getting into the end zone Sunday against Washington (2-5), particularly considering that Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has thrown seven interceptions over the last three games.
The Redskins have the NFC's toughest scoring defense and are fifth overall in allowing an average of 17.6 points.
Turner's biggest gains against the Saints covered 37, 24 and 22 yards, but just one of them resulted in a touchdown. In his first season with the Falcons last season, Turner gained 1,699 yards — second only to Minnesota's Adrian Peterson — and scored 17 touchdowns.
"The guys needed me to spark 'em, and I haven't been satisfied with the way I've been playing, so I had to go back and look at it to see what was different, see what was missing," he said. "Just little things that make a difference, you know?"
Inconsistency on the ground has bothered second-year coach Mike Smith all season. In their first season with the Falcons, the rushing attack finished second overall, but now they rank 17th with 111 yards per game.
Hip injuries and a concussion have slowed No. 2 running back Jerious Norwood, who will miss his third straight game this week. Jason Snelling, who ran seven times for 68 yards at Dallas, is trying to return against Washington after sitting out the New Orleans game with a strained hamstring.
Atlanta's offensive line also hasn't done as good a job as last year in extending blocks and forcing opponents to try to use a defensive back to tackle the 256-pound Turner.
"We've been evaluating and we've been trying to tweak it and get the running game going," Smith said. "When you can run the football effectively, even though we didn't get the outcome we wanted, it gives us an opportunity to get the outcome. I thought that was evident (against the Saints)."
Losing to New Orleans marked just the first time in Turner's 10 games that he rushed for 100 yards and the Falcons failed to win. In his career, Turner's teams are now 14-2 when he goes for 100 or more.
"Yeah, I've got to bring that element back to the team," he said. "Hopefully, last week was just a start."