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(Sunday, October 24th)
Final Score: Atlanta 39, Cincinnati 32
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Michael Turner all had big days, as the Atlanta Falcons weathered a big second half by the Cincinnati Bengals to take a 39-32 victory.
Ryan completed 24-of-33 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception. Ryan's efforts mostly went to White, who caught 11 balls for 201 yards and two scores.
Turner carried the ball 23 times for 121 yards and two touchdowns for the Falcons (5-2), who rebounded from last week's loss in Philadelphia and head into their bye week.
"5-2 is better than 4-3. I'm no mathematician...but it's important for us to go into the bye week with a win," said Ryan.
The bye week will provide extra healing time for cornerback Dunta Robinson, who was inactive after suffering a concussion against the Eagles in a violent collision with receiver DeSean Jackson.
Carson Palmer was 36-of-50 for 412 yards and three touchdowns for the Bengals (2-4), who recorded 29 points in the second half -- 22 in the third quarter -- but fell to their third consecutive loss.
The Falcons held a 24-3 advantage at halftime, but watched it disappear as the Bengals' offense came to life.
Cincinnati scored every time it had the ball, opening the half with a 33-yard field goal from Mike Nugent. After Atlanta punted, Cincinnati took over at its own 12. Palmer completed passes of 18, 16 and 30 yards -- to Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens and Jordan Shipley, respectively.
Owens capped the drive with a 19-yard touchdown reception, and finished with nine catches for 88 yards. All three receivers had big days, as Ochocinco ended with 10 catches for 108 yards and a score, while the rookie Shipley had six catches for a career-high 131 yards and his first touchdown.
Following Owens' score, Ryan was intercepted by Leon Hall at the Bengals' 38. Palmer hooked up with Shipley on a 64-yard score, though the two-point conversion failed, keeping the Falcons' lead at 24-19.
"At some point we've got to have a lot of pride and we showed that in the second half with the way we came out," Owens said. "Showed we could be the team that going into the season we expected to be."
Atlanta had good field position after Eric Weems returned the ensuing kickoff 55 yards to the Bengal 46. But White fumbled on the first play of the series, and Adam Jones recovered before running it back 59 yards for a score.
The Falcons challenged the ruling, but the call was upheld as Cincinnati assumed a 25-24 lead with 1:16 left in the quarter as the two-point try again failed.
"The third quarter was a little bit Halloween-ish in terms of it wasn't a treat, it was a trick," said Falcons head coach Mike Smith.
Atlanta bounced back with a touchdown drive that spanned into the fourth quarter. The Falcons went 74 yards in eight plays, the last of which was Ryan's 11-yard pass to White. Ryan hooked up with White for a two-point conversion, which gave Atlanta a 32-25 lead less than two minutes into the frame.
The Bengals got onto Atlanta's side of the field before Cedric Benson fumbled. It was a crucial turnover, as cornerback Brian Williams returned the ball near midfield. Turner's three-yard rush around the right end got Atlanta into the end zone with 4:33 on the clock for a 39-25 advantage.
Cincinnati needed a quick score, but it took three minutes before Palmer found Ochocinco for an eight-yard touchdown. The Bengals' onside kick was unsuccessful, but they used their two remaining timeouts to get the ball back with 28 seconds remaining. However, they began at their own four and Palmer was sacked to end the game.
"The best part of the entire day was how we responded to [the third quarter]," Ryan said. "Went back down in the fourth quarter, made the plays when we needed to and were able to secure the victory."
Atlanta scored on the game's opening possession, as Ryan capped an eight-play, 83-yard drive with a three-yard strike to Brian Finneran. Nugent kicked a 20- yarder with 22 seconds left in the quarter, capping a drive during which Atlanta safety Thomas DeCoud was injured. He hit his head as he dove into Benson, and was somewhat stunned by the collision.
Matt Bryant's 45-yarder 90 seconds into the second quarter gave Atlanta a 10-3 lead, which was nearly increased on the Bengals' next touch. Benson appeared to make a catch before fumbling as he adjusted the ball, and Brent Grimes ran it back for a score. Cincinnati challenged and won, as officials ruled it an incomplete pass.
Still, Atlanta scored after the Bengals punted, as White hauled in a 43-yard touchdown with 11:06 remaining. The Falcons scored again with 1:05 left, when Turner took it in from two yards out to end an 11-play, 83-yard march.
White recorded his second career 200-yard game. He had a career-high 210 receiving yards last season against San Francisco...Palmer recorded his third career 400-yard game. He had a career-best 440 yards in 2006 against San Diego...Cincinnati gained 469 yards, compared to 452 for Atlanta...The Falcons have won the last three meetings with the Bengals and four of six dating back to 1990.
10/24 19:49:52 ET