Falcons flash offensive depth, overwhelm Cardinals 38-19
ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Falcons didn't have to rely on their biggest star to get their offense back on course.
Taylor Gabriel showed there is ample depth behind Julio Jones on Atlanta's list of targets for Matt Ryan.
Gabriel caught two touchdown passes, doubling his season total, and the NFC South-leading Falcons beat Arizona 38-19 on Sunday in an impressive return from their bye week.
The Falcons (7-4) had dropped three of five. A 24-15 loss at Philadelphia on Nov. 13 was especially troubling for an offense that led the NFL in scoring and yards earlier in the season.
Ryan completed passes to eight players, including Mohamed Sanu, who had a team-leading eight catches for 65 yards.
''When we're playing like that, running like that, it's pretty hard to stop us,'' Sanu said.
It was a devastating loss for the Cardinals (4-6-1), who have lost two straight and three of their past four.
''It's disheartening,'' quarterback Carson Palmer said. ''Frustrating. And it hurts.''
After reaching the NFC championship game last season, Arizona is in danger of missing the postseason.
''We need one win,'' said coach Bruce Arians, who was on the sideline after falling ill and being briefly hospitalized early in the week. ''We just need one win. There is nobody left on the schedule that we can't beat and who knows what the final tally will be. All we need to do is just win one.''
The 38 points are the most allowed this season by the Cardinals, who began the day ranked first in the NFL in fewest yards and passing yards allowed. Atlanta collected 28 first downs and 360 yards.
''We got back to us,'' Gabriel said of the offense's resurgence against Arizona.
Jones was shadowed by star cornerback Patrick Peterson and had only four catches for 35 yards. Jones drew two pass interference calls against Peterson that set up a touchdown and field goal.
The 5-foot-8 Gabriel was the surprise star with four catches for 75 yards. Gabriel used his blazing speed to run through the Arizona defense for touchdowns of 35 and 25 yards, each on screen passes.
''I felt like they were running in slow motion,'' Gabriel said of the Cardinals' defense. Gabriel was cut by Cleveland before the season and signed by Atlanta.
It was a confidence-building win for the Falcons.
''We're a better version of ourselves from the opening part of the season to now as we're heading into the second half of our season,'' coach Dan Quinn said.
Here are more things to know about the Falcons' win over the Cardinals:
ELITE COMPANY: Larry Fitzgerald had four catches for 53 yards for Arizona in his 190th consecutive game with at least one catch. He tied Marvin Harrison for the third-longest streak in NFL history, behind only Jerry Rice (274) and Toy Gonzalez (211).
MATT VI: Matt Wile averaged 58 yards on two punts in his NFL debut. He was signed this week as the fill-in for Matt Bosher, who was held out with a hamstring injury.
Wile is just another Matt for Atlanta's roster, joining Bosher, kicker Matt Bryant and quarterbacks Ryan, Matt Schaub and Matt Simms, who is on the practice squad.
''You can use that name loosely around here,'' Quinn said, smiling. ''Usually somebody turns around.''
Quinn said he was ''really pleased'' with Wile's punting and kickoffs.
FANTASY STAR: Running back David Johnson led Arizona's offense, as usual, with eight catches for 103 yards and a touchdown, and 13 carries for 58 yards. He has at least 100 combined yards, rushing and receiving, in every game this season.
TRUFANT'S SEASON MAY BE OVER: Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant will learn this week if he'll have season-ending surgery. He missed his second straight game with a pectoral/shoulder injury. Jalen Collins was the fill-in starter.
INJURY REPORT: Cardinals wide receiver John Brown (hamstring) left the game and didn't return. ... Arians said Peterson ''was cramping'' and had ''a little bit of a knee issue'' that didn't force him out of the game. ... Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn (knee) didn't return after being escorted to the locker room.
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