Atlanta Falcons halfway home to a perfect season

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Atlanta Falcons halfway home to a perfect season

From Comcast SportsNetATLANTA (AP) -- Matt Ryan came up with two words to describe his performance Sunday night."Good enough," he said.It's a familiar summary for the 2012 Atlanta Falcons, who just keep winning -- even when they make a couple mistakes.Michael Turner had a tiebreaking 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, Matt Bryant kicked four field goals and the Falcons beat the Dallas Cowboys 19-13 to extend their run as the NFL's only unbeaten team."I think at the end of the day it's a league that's based on wins and losses and tonight was a solid effort by this team and we did what we needed to do to come out with a win," Ryan said.Turner had 20 carries for 102 yards and Ryan had a season-high 342 yards passing for the Falcons (8-0), who took their first lead with 14:16 left in the game."We have a very good football team," coach Mike Smith said. "It says a lot about the resolve because there is going to be ebbs and flows in a football game, and there were a lot tonight. We did a nice job staying focused."Tony Romo completed 25 of 35 passes for 321 yards for the Cowboys (3-5), who have dropped four of their last five games. They were held to 65 yards rushing, including 39 yards on nine carries by Felix Jones."There's a reason they're undefeated halfway through the season," Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. "This is a challenging place to play at. I thought we did some good things in the ballgame. They did more good things. We didn't do enough to win this game in all three phases of our football team."The Cowboys trailed 16-6 before Romo tried to put together a comeback. He completed all six of his attempts on a big drive that ended with a 21-yard TD strike to Kevin Ogletree.The Falcons then worked the clock, holding the ball for 5 minutes, 4 seconds, leaving only 17 seconds after Bryant's 32-yard field goal.The Cowboys burned all their timeouts as Ryan kept the Falcons' offense on the field in the crucial time-consuming drive. Ryan passed to Jacquizz Rodgers for 31 yards and 11 yards on third-down plays. A defensive holding call against cornerback Orlando Scandrick on another third down prolonged the possession.Finally, the Cowboys stopped Turner on a third-down run at the Dallas 14.Romo never attempted a deep pass, though he had only 17 seconds to cover 80 yards. He found Jason Witten for passes of 7 and 11 yards, leaving 9 seconds. He passed to Felix Jones for 8 yards, leaving time for one play from the Cowboys 40.Romo scrambled before passing to Jones, who was dropped near the Atlanta 22 to end the game."I think any time you're in that situation you obviously want to get the ball back with a chance, and it's tough," Romo said. "That's why they're a good football team. They're tough to beat at home. They proved it when they were able to run the clock out at the end."Ryan was 24 for 34. Roddy White had seven catches for 118 yards and passed Terance Mathis for the most receptions in Falcons history. Julio Jones had five catches for 129 yards.There also is a new Dallas leader for career receptions. With seven catches for 51 yards, Witten has 754 for his career, passing Michael Irvin's record of 750.Miles Austin led the Cowboys with seven catches for 76 yards.Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he was "extremely, extremely" disappointed."We certainly didn't plan to end up here at 3-5 halfway through the season," Jones said. "We've got some tough ballgames. We've got half our season left."For three quarters, it was a kicking contest -- and a pretty shaky one, too.Bryant kicked field goals of 45 and 46 yards in the second quarter for Atlanta's only points before Turner's score. Bryant also missed from 43 and 37 yards, wide right each time."Tonight was not a very good day as far as overall body of work," said Bryant, who made 27 of 29 attempts in 2011 and was 16 for 17 this season before Sunday night's game. "It was just one of those days where you have to have a short memory and get ready for the next game."Dan Bailey's field goals from 23 and 32 yards were the Cowboys' only points in the first half. He missed from 54 yards.Ryan was sacked three times and faced constant pressure.Ryan's 48-yard pass to Jones set up Bryant's 36-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, pushing the lead to 16-6.NOTES:NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell conducted a fan forum for Falcons season-ticket holders before the game. Goodell attended the Steelers-Giants game in East Rutherford, N.J., earlier Sunday. ... Mathis, who began his career with the Jets, had 573 catches with the Falcons from 1994-2002. White now has 577. ... Cowboys LB DeMarcus Ware had 1 sacks and a forced fumble. ... Dallas DT Jay Ratliff suffered an apparent left leg injury late in the first half but returned in the second half. ... Falcons DT Peria Jerry left in the second quarter with a knee injury and did not return. ... Playing behind Felix Jones, Lance Dunbar had eight carries for 26 yards, including an 18-yard run.

Report: 49ers strongly considering QB at No. 2

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Report: 49ers strongly considering QB at No. 2

General manager John Lynch and the 49ers have created the desired intrigue about what the club will do with the No. 2 overall pick in this week’s NFL draft.

The team remains “open for business,” in the words of Lynch, to trade the second pick. If the 49ers are unable to find a trade partner, the team can do any number of different ways with that pick. The first round of the draft is scheduled for Thursday evening.

After edge-rusher Myles Garrett, widely projected to go to the Cleveland Browns with the No. 1 overall pick, there does not seem to be much separating the next dozen prospects on the board at a number of different positions.

Now, there is buzz the 49ers could go with a quarterback – likely, Mitchell Trubisky of North Carolina – with the No. 2 pick. That possibility gained steam Monday morning with a report from Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, citing “several sources,” that the 49ers are “strongly considering” selecting a quarterback with the second pick.

One league source last week told NBC Sports Bay Area some around the league believe the 49ers would draft Trubisky or Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.

“If the 49ers are waiting on Kirk Cousins, just remember that Trubisky is a better prospect now than Cousins was coming out of the 2012 draft,” the source said.

Cousins, who is set to play his second consecutive year as Washington’s franchise player, was a fourth-round selection under then-coach Mike Shanahan, New 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was his father’s offensive coordinator when Washington drafted Cousins.

Lynch has been open in his scouting and praise of this year’s draft class. He has attended workouts of top quarterback prospects: Trubisky, Deshaun Watson (Clemson), DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame), Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech) and Davis Webb (Cal).

"I think most of this quarterback class should be later down the line, whether it's first round or second round,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said recently. ESPN’s Mel Kipier and Todd McShay had Trubisky as the first quarterback selected by the Browns at No. 12 overall.

“I think these guys are somewhat getting a bad rap,” Lynch said at the NFL scouting combine. “You turn on the film, and there’s a lot to like.”

The 49ers head into this week’s draft with Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley as the only two quarterbacks on the roster.

The 49ers have shown no interest in re-signing any of the top three quarterbacks on the team’s roster last season: Colin Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder. Each of those players remains unsigned.

A's find themselves in decent shape with Graveman, Gray possibly returning

A's find themselves in decent shape with Graveman, Gray possibly returning

OAKLAND — Some 10-9 records are better than others, and so it is that the A’s can hit the road for a nine-game trip feeling pretty good about themselves.

Their just-completed homestand began with Opening Night starter Kendall Graveman leaving a game early and landing on the disabled list. That was coupled with news that shortstop Marcus Semien would be lost for two months or more with a fractured wrist.

The A’s responded to those developments with a five-game winning streak that was halted by Sunday’s 11-1 rout at the hands of the Seattle Mariners.

The A’s went 5-4 on the homestand, holding their ground after a heavy dose of injury misfortune, and now the outlook changes just a bit. The focus shifts from the players joining the D.L. to those that could soon return to provide a boost.

Graveman, who has a strained right shoulder, is scheduled to throw off the mound Monday. If that goes well, expect him to be activated sometime in the early portion of the upcoming trip. Sonny Gray, who has been out since injuring a side muscle early in Cactus League games, is set to throw Thursday for Triple-A Nashville after an encouraging rehab outing Saturday for Single-A Stockton.

If Gray comes out of Thursday’s start well, look for the 2015 All-Star to join the active roster and pitch sometime against Minnesota in the final series of this road trip. Nothing can be taken for granted until both pitchers actually return healthy, but it’s a promising scenario to possibly add two starters of their caliber as April turns to May.

“I think any time you look up and you’re over .500 and you’ve had a great homestand and you’re missing your best two pitchers, that’s something to be pleased about,” catcher Stephen Vogt said. “Getting Kendall back is huge. And Sonny obviously did great last night, and felt great, which is more important than the results.

“We’re excited to get those two guys back but in the meantime, we’re gonna continue to keep playing the way we are because we’re playing really good baseball and we’ll just keep things rolling.”

It was clear early on Sunday that a five-game winning streak wouldn’t reach six. The Mariners led 2-0 in the third when Andrew Triggs missed location on a 1-0 sinker and Taylor Motter launched a grand slam over the wall in left-center.

Triggs, who excelled at missing the fat part of bats over his first three starts, didn’t have the feel for his cutter Sunday. When he fell behind to Motter, the cutter is normally a pitch he would have gone to had it been working for him.

“I wasn’t commanding well,” he said. “I didn’t wanna go 1-0 to 2-0. I felt better going with the sinker. I got it down, but missed location in and out. In a perfect world, the cutter would have been great to get a groundout.”

But to this point, the A’s rotation has held firm without Gray and with the short-term absence of Graveman. Perhaps the biggest test moving forward is whether an offense that is tied for the American League lead in extra-base hits can continue to produce consistently with Semien’s absence, particularly without anyone having established themselves as the regular leadoff man.

A’s manager Bob Melvin likes what he’s seen from his team in light of the injuries.

“Every game we go out there there’s an expectation to win,” Melvin said, “and when you win multiple games in a row, you get that feeling and it’s a little more significant. So hopefully we can carry that on to the road trip. As a group, we’ve been able to manage these injuries here recently, and once we start getting guys back it’s gonna be a good thing for us.”