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Colts clip Falcons to stay tied atop AFC South

The Indianapolis Colts (5-5) remain tied atop the AFC South with Houston after wiping out a 14-point deficit to knock off the struggling Atlanta Falcons (6-4) 24-21 on Sunday. Here's what you need to know:

  1. All he does is win. Matt Hasselbeck's first pass was a misguided lob picked off by Paul Worrilow, the Falcons linebacker who played hero again one drive later by jumping on a Frank Gore fumble. The sloppy Colts woke from there, scoring 24 of the game's final 31 points, sparked by Hasselbeck unfurling one of the season's uglier touchdown passes to Ahmad Bradshaw. Take a look:

Hasselbeck doesn't make it look pretty, but the wily veteran hit 11 of his first 14 passes to finish 23 of 32 on the day for 213 yards with two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. At 40, he's a smart-but-limited athlete, missing a wide-open T.Y. Hilton in the second half before costing the Colts points with an ugly pick hauled in by Falcons safety Ricardo Allen. Indy's passing game lacked rhythm for much of the way, partly because Atlanta wasn't scared of the ground game. You'd like to see Frank Gore carry the load with Andrew Luck sidelined, but the 32-year-old runner was held to 18 yards in the first half and 31 overall at just 2.4 yards per carry. Gore also caught five passes for 42 yards, but Ahmad Bradshaw was more effective on Sunday with a pair of short touchdown grabs.

  1. Matt Ryan's season remains a mixed bag. After shaking off an early interception, the Falcons quarterback put Atlanta on the board with a beautiful scoring strike to wide-open fullback Patrick DiMarco, who pulled down a pair of touchdowns on the day. Ryan carved up Indy's secondary for 280 yards and three scores, but also threw a trio of picks, including a killer fourth-quarter interception that Colts linebacker D'Qwell Jackson took into the end zone to tie the game at 21-21. Ryan's final pick came off a failed Hail Mary as time expired.
  1. Sunday was another example of why Julio Jones remains the NFC's finest receiver. Getting the best of Vontae Davis, the Falcons star shredded Indy for 160 yards off nine grabs for his third-straight 100-yard outing. Running an up-tempo attack, Ryan took advantage of a Colts defense that repeatedly left receivers open. It wasn't just Jones, as DiMarco's first score came with nobody near him. Indy's defense was much more effective in the second half, putting pressure on Ryan and closing down passing lanes.
  1. Devonta Freeman caught fire early with a 39-yard blast through Indy's defense. The Falcons lost the NFL's third-leading rusher soon after, though, due to a concussion. In his absence, rookies Tevin Coleman (17/48) and Terron Ward struggled against Indy's front seven, running for a combined 2.6 yards per carry.
  1. Another week, another wacky ruling on what is -- or isn't -- a catch. Game officials reviewed this end-zone pick by Colts safety Dwight Lowery a successful grab. What do you think?
  1. The Colts now find themselves in a two-way tie atop the AFC South with the Texans. With upcoming games against the Bucs and Steelers, Indy plays just one team with a winning record down the stretch. The Falcons, meanwhile, continue to fade behind an undefeated Carolina crew that keeps piling up wins. Atlanta will have its shot, though, still scheduled to play the Panthers twice in December.
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