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Cardinals, Falcons searching for second win of season
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Cardinals, Falcons searching for second win of season

Cardinals, Falcons searching for second win of season
Photo Credit: Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray looks to throw in the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws against the Houston Texans during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, right, speaks with Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel after an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Atlanta. The Tennessee Titans won 24-10. (AP Photo/John Amis)

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, left, speaks with head coach Kliff Kingsbury, right, in the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) runs against the Tennessee Titans during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

Cardinals, Falcons searching for second win of season

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - The Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons are two football teams with a lot of similarities: productive offense, problems with the defense, and not a lot of wins.

At least the Cardinals have some momentum.

Arizona (1-3-1) is coming off its first win of the season, a 26-23 triumph over the Cincinnati Bengals. The Cardinals had a 23-9 lead midway through the fourth quarter before giving up two quick touchdowns, but salvaged the game thanks to a 31-yard field goal from Zane Gonzalez as time expired.

Now that the initial victory has been achieved for first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury and rookie quarterback Kyler Murray, they'd like to earn their first winning streak.

"We cleaned things up," Murray said. "We played better, but at the same time you, can't really dwell on it because we've got another game this weekend."

Atlanta (1-4) has spent a week in the desert after getting beaten by the Houston Texans 53-32. The Falcons didn't go home after the loss, flying directly from Houston to Phoenix and practicing on Arizona State's campus.

The Falcons are getting a lot of production through the passing game - quarterback Matt Ryan and receiver Julio Jones are on track for big seasons - but the running game has struggled and the defense has had issues, particularly last week.

Atlanta is hoping for a win against the Cardinals before a tough three-game stretch against the Rams, Seahawks and Saints.

"It's all 11 of us doing our job for four quarters," Ryan said. "There's been some good things, too. There's been time when we've moved the ball effectively and we've been able to score points, but we haven't been able to put a complete game together where we've played for four quarters of consistent football."

RED-ZONE WOES

There have been two versions of the Arizona offense this season: The one that looks great in the middle of the field and the one that bogs down in the red zone.

Arizona ranks eighth in the NFL with 22 scoring drives this season. The problem is that 14 of those drives ended with field goals instead of a touchdown.

"I'm open to suggestions if you have any," Kingsbury said with a grin. "I saw improvements. I know it didn't look like it, but I saw improvements in what we're trying to do. We just have to keep getting better, coaches and players, in that area.

GUARDING JULIO

Atlanta's Jones is on track for another big season. He's caught 26 passes for 359 yards and four touchdowns.

The two-time All-Pro will go against an Arizona secondary that includes several rookies such as cornerback Byron Murphy Jr., and safeties Deionte Thompson and Jalen Thompson. Star cornerback Patrick Peterson can't return until next week because of his six-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancers.

Advantage: Atlanta.

"Any time you're trying to stop him, no matter who you have, it's going to be a tall task," Kingsbury said. "He's phenomenal. Watching the tape from this season, I've always watched him from afar, but watching it on tape and really studying him, he's an absolute freak. He plays hard every snap. You can tell he's passionate about the game and does everything right."

BIG-PLAY DEFENSE

Arizona's had its issues on defense this season, but is still getting production from veteran pass rushers Chandler Jones and Terrell Suggs.

The Cardinals are tied for the NFL lead with 11 forced fumbles. Jones has forced three while Suggs and linebacker Jordan Hicks both have two. Jones has four sacks while Suggs has 3 1/2.

"Their edge players are guys who have been productive in this league for a long time and are disruptive in what they do," Ryan said.

KYLER'S PROGRESSION

Murray, the No. 1 overall pick in April's draft, has had a promising start to his career. He's thrown for 1,324 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions while also running for 206 yards and two touchdowns. He's the first player in NFL history with more than 1,300 yards passing and 200 yards rushing through his first five career games.

Murray and Kingsbury both said they continue to grow in understanding what works for the offense.

"The more that the season goes on, and the more we spend time with each other, that trust and that bond will continue to grow," Murray said.

DEFENSIVE BOUNCE BACK

Atlanta's defense needs to play much than it did last week, when it gave up 53 points and 592 yards to the Texans.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn said making Murray uncomfortable in the pocket is a must for that to happen.

"It's a huge emphasis for us, rush, pressure, the whole thing that we can affect the quarterback," Quinn said. "Sometimes that's with four, sometimes that's with five, six, however it takes, it has to happen and is certainly is our mindset heading into this week.

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AP Sports Writer John Marshall contributed to this story.

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More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Georgia Sports News

  • Georgia basketball is going to have to grow up in a hurry if it has any chance of becoming an NCAA tournament team this season. Coach Tom Crean's young squad came apart on the road at Mississippi State on Saturday night, falling 91-59 in a battle of SEC Bulldogs. Crean's concerns about Mississippi State's size and rebounding prowess became a reality. The maroon-and-white clad Bulldogs entered the night as the SEC's top rebounding team. They proceeded to show why, posting a commanding 40-22 advantage on the glass over UGA. 48 of State's 91 points were scored in the paint. Georgia dropped to 11-6 overall and 1-3 in the SEC with the loss, while Coach Ben Howland's team improved to 11-6 and 2-3 in league games. UGA freshman Anthony Edwards got off to a rough start at the so-called 'Hump.' Edwards was held to 3 points in the first half and made only 1 of his first 9 shots. Edwards finished with 19 points on 5-of-16 shooting, including 1-of-8 marksmanship beyond the 3-point line. Georgia, coming off an 80-63 home win over Tennessee, kept things close throughout much of the first half in Starkville. Freshman Toumani Camera scored all 10 of his points in the opening half, including a dunk that made it 32-28. But Mississippi State closed the first half on a 10-3 run to take a 42-31 lead to intermission. Georgia couldn't get any closer than 11 points the remainder of the game. Junior Rayshaun Hammonds, UGA's top interior threat, scored 8 of his 10 points and grabbed 3 of his 4 rebounds in the first half. Hammonds scored just one basket on 1-of-6 shooting and grabbed just one rebound in the 15 minutes he played in the second half. The home team went on a 17-3 run late in the game, stretching the lead out to 30 points with four minutes left. UGA point guard Sahvir Wheeler, who suffered an ankle injury last Wednesday, started and played 21 minutes. Wheeler had 2 points on 1-of-2 shooting, and 1 assist. The Bulldogs return to action at 7 p.m. at Kentucky on Tuesday. DawgNation Georgia Basketball Anthony Edwards puts the squeeze on Tennessee in blowout win Georgia falls in first SEC road game of season at Auburn Anthony Edwards says UGA didn't play tough enough vs. Kentucky Georgia basketball delivers signature Top 10 win at Memphs Freshman Anthony Edwards discloses injury, status Sahvir Wheeler on clutch game-winner, 'been there a ton of times' Tom Izzo on Georgia: 'That was an incredible comeback' Anthony Edwards lights up Michigan State for 37 in 93-85 loss Rayshaun Hammonds wrecks Georgia Tech Anthony Edwards draws standing ovation in opener Georgia freshman already making basketball history The post Mississippi State blasts Georgia in battle of SEC Bulldogs, Anthony Edwards struggles appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken has yet to call his first play, but it's safe to say the 53-year-old already knows he's walking into a better situation than a year ago. RELATED: Todd Monken a Statement hire' by Kirby Smart Monken's differences on the Cleveland Browns' staff with first-year coach Freddie Kitchens were well-documented from the onset. Many close to Kitchens have said Monken was not even the head coach's choice for the job. It's no wonder Monken was quoted as referring the Cleveland franchise a 'total mess.' It was an accurate description. Receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry were a handful. The Myles Garrett helmet swing incidentreached epic proportion. Georgia football is anything but a total mess. Monken arrives in Athens knowing he was Kirby Smart's top choice. Smart hasn't announced it, but it's a good bet Monken will assume the playcalling duties. It's something Monken has said before is important to him. RELATED: Why Todd Monken is a proven OC, and the Smart choice The best-case scenario for Georgia and Monken next season is a national championship. At the very least, a fourth-straight trip to the SEC Championship Game. The Georgia defense is that good. Nine of 11 Sugar Bowl starters return. It was a unit that led the nation in scoring defense and run defense, and finished third in the country in total defense and 8h in pass efficiency defense. Smart will be looking for an offense that makes more explosive plays while maintaining a reliable run game. But the bottom line for Smart was and is offensive efficiency and consistency. If Monken's offense can score 24 points in each game next season, it's hard to project the Bulldogs losing a game. That said, Georgia has its share of challenges on offense. Chief among those hurdles are growing an inexperienced receiving corps, and developing and scheming for a new quarterback. Georgia rising sophomore George Pickens is the key to the receiving corps. He's coming off a Sugar Bowl MVP performance, making 12 catches for 175 yards and a touchdown in the Bulldogs' 26-14 win over Baylor. Pickens, however, was hit with two suspensions his freshman campaign. The first involved an unspecified violation of team rules. The second came by NCAA rule after his well-publicized tangle at Georgia Tech. RELATED: Pickens apologizes to team for costly SEC title game suspension Pickens' growth and development as a person and potential leader will factor into Monken's future game plans where skill position players are concerned. Georgia has other receiver options returning and promising incoming freshmen. But none appear to have the game-changing dynamic Pickens presents. Georgia is also green in the backfield. Zamir White enters spring drills battling Kenny McIntosh for first-team reps. Rising junior James Cook and incoming freshman Kendall Milton have breakout talent. To this point, none of the backs have shown the dynamic game-breaking ability departing back D'Andre Swift flashed his first two seasons. It doesn't mean they won't, but expectations should be kept in check, Swift was special. The ultimate challenge, however, is at quarterback. Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman is considered the favorite to win the job in spring drills. Newman is coming to Georgia to throw more, and the Bulldogs are excited to have a quarterback who can run and scramble effectively. The two sides will meet somewhere in the middle, with Newman gaining experience in an offense that can transition into the NFL. Georgia also has redshirt junior Stetson Bennett, redshirt freshman D'Wan Mathis and incoming freshman Carson Beck in the quarterback room this spring. The final piece for Monken's success is the fit in the offensive meeting room, and the trust and chemistry he builds with Smart. Unlike Cleveland, Monken will be handed the keys, and he'll be surrounded by an all-star staff that includesJames Coley, Matt Luke and run game coordinator Dell McGee. Georgia football, unlike the NFL's Cleveland Browns, doesn't mess around. Georgia football offseason Kirby Smart lands Air Raid guru Todd Monken LSU DC Dave Aranda reveals UGA offensive game plan Mark Richt gives scout on FSU grad-transfer Tre Mckitty UGA provides status update on James Coley Numbers game: Comparing Jamie Newman to Jake Fromm Bulldogs' safety headed for Ole Miss RELATED: Cade Mays makes stunning Rocky Top Hop Projected starting Georgia lineman returning from injury PODCAST: Brandon Adams discusses Todd Monken addition The post New Georgia OC Todd Monken trades total mess' for championship quest appeared first on DawgNation.
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  • ATHENS Georgia coach Tom Crean always talks to his team about 'taking what the game gives you,' but on Saturday night at Mississippi State, UGA might need a different approach. Indeed, Crean's young and undersized team will have to take even when the game isn't giving them any breaks or advantages. Coach Ben Howland's maroon-clad Bulldogs lead the SEC in rebounding margin, the very area Crean's vertically challenged canines are most often challenged to measure up. 'I mean, every game we come in here talking about how important the rebounding is and now we're playing the league leader,' said Georgia coach Tom Crean, who has just two players 6-foot-9 or taller. 'That part of it is tough.' Mississippi State features two starters who are even taller, center Abdul Ado (6-11, 255) and power forward Reggie Perry (6-10, 250). The teams tip off at 8:30 p.m. (TV: SEC Network) at the so-called 'Hump.' Officially known as Humphrey Coliseum, Mississippi State's arena which some say resembles a cake from the outside has a smaller, intimate setting similar to Stegeman Coliseum with a capacity of 10,575. Georgia brings an 11-5 overall mark and 1-2 SEC record into the action. Mississippi State is 10-6 and 1-3 in league play. UGA is looking for what would be its first consecutive league wins under Crean, who is now in his second season. Georgia is also looking to play its way into NCAA tournament contention, and it will likely take a .500 record in league play or better for that to happen. It's Crean's first trip to Starkville, and he may be forced to make it without the playing services of Sahvir Wheeler, who fellow freshman Anthony Edwards refers to as 'the heart of the team.' Wheeler suffered an ankle injury in the second half of Georgia's resounding 80-63 blowout win over Tennessee. Crean made it clear on Friday that Wheeler is questionable, having just managed to walk through the Thursday workout. 'You just have to deal with it, and if he can't it is what it is,' Crean said. 'You just go. Right? That's why you try to develop and try to get multi-dimensional versatile guys. Obviously he's a huge factor.' If Wheeler is out, Georgia will rely more heavily on senior graduate transfer Donnell Gresham along with Edwards at the point. Edwards, named a second-team, mid-season All-American by the Sporting News earlier this week, is averaging 19.1 points per game this season, second in the SEC. Georgia, with its size deficiency, will also need another signature performance from 6-9, 245-pound junior Rayshaun Hammonds. Hammonds is averaging 14.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, and he's coming off a 21-point, 5-rebound in the win over the Vols. Mississippi State represents UGA's fifth-straight game against teams that played in the NCAA tournament last season. The Bulldogs are 2-2 in the past four, winning on the road against then-No. 9 Memphis 65-62 on Jan. 4 and hammering Tennessee in Athens on Wednesday night. The losses were to No. 13 Kentucky (78-69) and then-No. 5 Auburn (82-60). Last year's home loss to Mississippi State featured one of the most bizarre endings in Stegeman Coliseum history. WATCH: Stuffed bulldog triggers decisive technical foul in UGA home loss A small stuffed bulldog toy was thrown on the court in the final moments, resulting in a technical foul that helps swing the game State's way, 68-67. Georgia had rallied from 17 down to tie the game at 67-67. DawgNation Georgia Basketball Anthony Edwards puts the squeeze on Tennessee in blowout win Georgia falls in first SEC road game of season at Auburn Anthony Edwards says UGA didn't play tough enough vs. Kentucky Georgia basketball delivers signature Top 10 win at Memphs Freshman Anthony Edwards discloses injury, status Sahvir Wheeler on clutch game-winner, 'been there a ton of times' Tom Izzo on Georgia: 'That was an incredible comeback' Anthony Edwards lights up Michigan State for 37 in 93-85 loss Rayshaun Hammonds wrecks Georgia Tech Anthony Edwards draws standing ovation in opener Georgia freshman already making basketball history The post Georgia basketball looks to get over the hump at Mississippi State appeared first on DawgNation.
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