Falcons reach bye week on a modest two-game winning streak

Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley (21) runs for a touchdown against the Denver Broncos on Nov. 8.

The Atlanta Falcons allowed the final two touchdowns in Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos, but a fourth-quarter touchdown from Todd Gurley provided enough cushion to prevent another late collapse as Atlanta earned its third win of the season.

Gurley rushed for a game-high 53 yards and added that late touchdown in the 34-27 home victory. The Tarboro High graduate has now scored at least one touchdown in each of the past three games.

Of the Falcons’ nine games this season, Gurley has scored at least one rushing touchdown in seven of them.

With 9:05 to play in the game, Gurley scored on a 4-yard run to give Atlanta a 34-13 lead. It was a much-needed score as the Broncos added two touchdowns over the next seven minutes, but couldn’t get any more.

It was an important win for Atlanta, which earlier this season became the first team in NFL history to lose back-to-back games after leading by 15 or more points in the fourth quarter.

The Falcons had a 20-3 lead at halftime, which expanded to 27-6 in the third quarter. The Broncos then found three touchdowns in the fourth. Atlanta was playing without its top receiver in Calvin Ridley, and instead had to rely on the services of lesser-known receivers.

Players like Olamide Zaccheaus and Brandon Powell each recorded their first touchdown receptions of the season. And Gurley, who had two catches for two yards, praised his teammates following the win.

“They did a great job,” Gurley told reporters on Sunday. “The offense did a great job; those two touchdowns came on third down. You take those two touchdowns away, that’s a close ball game. Credit to (quarterback) Matt (Ryan) for staying in there and slinging it and those guys coming in and stepping up and playing big. Shout out to those guys, you have to give credit. Those guys have been working hard every day in practice.”

Following Sunday’s games, Gurley is fifth in the NFL in rushing yards with 584. Gurley’s nine touchdowns place him second in the league, behind Minnesota running back Dalvin Cook’s 12 touchdowns.

His usage is high, too, as Gurley’s 159 rushing attempts ranks third in the NFL.

Up next: Falcons have a bye week