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Ryan regroups as Falcons rally past Cards, 23-19

Associated Press Published: November 19, 2012
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ATLANTA (AP) — The comparison of starting quarterbacks just didn't seem fair.

Arizona's John Skelton was benched after only five incompletions. Atlanta's Matt Ryan kept throwing after five interceptions.

Michael Turner scored the winning touchdown on a 1-yard run with 6:40 remaining, and Atlanta bounced back from its first loss of the season to rally past Arizona 23-19 Sunday, giving the Cardinals their sixth-straight loss.

Even in the ugliest of wins, Ryan managed to find himself linked with a legend. He became the first quarterback since Green Bay's Bart Starr in 1967 to win a game despite throwing five interceptions with no touchdowns, according to STATS LLC.

"That's good company to be in," Ryan said with a chuckle.

The Falcons (9-1), who clinched their fifth straight winning season, found a way to bounce back from the team's first loss at New Orleans.

Atlanta rallied after trailing the Cardinals 13-0 in the first quarter.

Coach Mike Smith stuck with Ryan, who led the 70-yard touchdown drive that gave Atlanta its first lead in the fourth quarter.

Ryan, who completed 28 of 48 passes for 301 yards, said it was important he remained confident for his teammates.

"I think that there are a lot of hats you wear as a quarterback," Ryan said. "Part of it is player, and part of it is keeping everybody on the same page and being relaxed."

Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald couldn't hang on to a fourth-down pass that would've given the feeble Cardinals a chance to pull it out.

The Falcons (9-1) turned it over a total of six times, but Ryan set up Turner's winning run with four completions for 64 yards, including a 9-yarder to Tony Gonzalez that was just short of the end zone. Turner scored on the next play.

Coming off a bye, the Cardinals (4-6) tried to bolster their anemic offense by switching quarterbacks, replacing Skelton with rookie Ryan Lindley. Arizona was held to only 178 yards.

"We said during the bye week we were going to make changes that we thought necessary, and that's what we're going to do going forward," Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said.

Lindley completed 9 of 20 passes for 64 yards with no interceptions and no touchdowns. He said he was "geeked up" and rushed his decisions in the first half.

"I was too excited," said Lindley, a sixth-round draft pick from San Diego State. "After that, I felt more calm. I think I made better decisions."

Skelton completed only 2 of 7 passes for 6 yards.

"We missed some throws when we had opportunities early," Whisenhunt said. "We're trying to win, so we gave Ryan a chance to make the throws."

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