Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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Falcons' defense batters Browns

CLEVELAND — The Falcons have found a new flyer.

Defensive end Kroy Biermann's spectacular diving interception and return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter sent the Falcons to a 20-10 win over the gimpy Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Pressuring Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme on a third-and-seven play at the 47, Biermann leaped to deflect the pass and then made a headfirst catch like a seasoned wide receiver, squeezing the ball just above the turf. Knowing he had not been touched, Biermann then scrambled to his feet and rumbled 31 yards on a twisting, turning effort to give the Falcons a 20-10 lead with 4:01 left.

Following his first career interception, the 6-foot-3, 260-pound Biermann, a third-year pro from Montana, was mobbed by his teammates as he laid breathless in the end zone.

Matt Ryan threw a 45-yard TD pass to Roddy White as the Falcons (4-1) won their fourth straight. Michael Turner rushed for 140 yards, including a season-long 55-yarder in the second.

The Browns (1-4) lost starting quarterback Seneca Wallace just before half with an ankle injury. Wallace made his fourth straight start for Delhomme, who has been out since Week 1 with a severely sprained ankle. The team had no details on Wallace's injury.

Cleveland picked up just 48 rushing yards. Running back Peyton Hillis, nursing a thigh injury, was held to 28 on 10 carries. He had rushed for more than 100 yards in Cleveland's previous two games.

Before Biermann's big, unexpected play, the Falcons were barely hanging on against a Browns team with major injury problems.

Delhomme had little mobility, making him a sitting duck against one of the league's better pass rushes. Delhomme was limited and finished 13 of 23 for 97 yards and two interceptions. Wallace was 11 of 15 for 139 yards before being forced out.

Making his fourth straight start for Delhomme, Wallace was hurt when he was sacked by Falcons defensive end Jonathan Abraham, who beat Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas on an outside rush. Wallace hopped off the field on his left foot before being evaluated by Cleveland's training staff.

After walking gingerly to the locker room at halftime, Wallace returned to the sideline in the second half but didn't come back in.

Matt Bryant kicked two field goals for the Falcons, whose only loss came against Pittsburgh in overtime in the season opener.

Browns kicker Phil Dawson kicked a 19-yarder to tie Hall of Famer Lou “The Toe” Groza for the franchise record with 234 field goals.

Ryan hooked up with White on a 45-yard TD, giving the Falcons a 13-10 lead in the third.

With plenty of time to throw, he waited for White to run past cornerback Sheldon Brown, who had just re-entered the game after injuring his shoulder tackling tight end Tony Gonzalez. Ryan hit White in stride at the goal line for his longest completion this season.

Ryan took Atlanta's offense inside the Browns' 20 three times in the first half but came away with just two field goals.

Cleveland's secondary gave Ryan nowhere to throw, and instead of forcing a pass, he threw the ball away on third down and settled for field goals of 24 and 30 yards by Bryant. On Atlanta's third trip into the red zone, Browns safety T.J. Ward blocked Bryant's 30-yard try.

Hillis, who has earned a reputation as a bruising, bashing runner, showed he's also got some nice hands in the second quarter on a 19-yard TD catch.

He swung out of the backfield and tipped Wallace's pass with his left hand to himself before going in untouched to give the Browns a 7-3 lead.

Notes: Abraham left in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury but got re-taped and returned. ... With Delhomme limited, the Browns used the wildcat formation several times with Joshua Cribbs at quarterback. ... Dawson, the only player remaining from Cleveland's 1999 expansion team, has made 234 of 281 kicks, and his 82.9 percent accuracy is the ninth highest in NFL history.

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