"He’ll have to go through a number of steps before he’ll be cleared to play, with the first one seeing the independent neurologist," Smith said of DeCoud. "Going through the different stages that they have in place."
If DeCoud is unable to go this week, rookie Zeke Motta would step in at safety. Motta played a season-high 55 snaps after replacing DeCoud on Sunday.
Smith also said Antone Smith is "day to day" coming off a knee injury. The running back apparently injured his patella while playing special teams and was to have an MRI.
"We do not think it’s anything significant," the coach said of Antone Smith’s injury. "We anticipate that he’ll be able to join us for practices as the week goes on."
Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon injured his shoulder but finished Sunday’s game.
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has talked to Boise State about its head coaching position, Falcons coach Mike Smith confirmed Monday.
"I am aware that Dirk has spoken with the people at Boise State, and I don't believe it's in the best interest for us or Dirk to comment any further on that," Smith said. "But I am aware that they have had conversations."
Koetter has a history with the Idaho school. He was the head coach there from 1998 to 2000. Koetter is from Pocatello and played four seasons at Idaho State.
With the Falcons sitting at 3-10, there is expected to be turnover with the staff. Koetter is in his second season as offensive coordinator since replacing Mike Mularkey.
Wide receiver Roddy White shared his thoughts on Koetter being up for the Boise State job.
"We've got three more games: Any decision he makes, he's a grown man," White said. "He's a good guy, good coach, great offensive coordinator. Good mind. If he takes the job, then he takes it. If he doesn't, he doesn't."
Koetter also was head coach at Arizona State from 2001 to 2006.
Boise State lost coach Chris Petersen to Washington last week.
For starters: Rookie cornerback Robert Alford knew early last week he would start at left cornerback in place of Asante Samuel. The coaching staff remained coy about the decision, although defensive coordinator Mike Nolan implied it was Alford’s time to surpass Samuel. In fact, Samuel didn’t even play, as Alford took all the reps. "I think it’s a big jump for me," Alford said. "I feel good about it. I played good [Sunday]. There were a couple of plays that I can improve on. I’m going to go and watch film and get better each day." Alford played all 71 snaps on Sunday.
Running on empty: There was much lobbying all last week for Antone Smith to get more touches at running back based on his explosiveness on every carry. Well, Smith never got going on Sunday after apparently tweaking his knee on special teams. Smith told ESPN.com he was scheduled to undergo an MRI for what was thought to be a patella injury. The Falcons actually ran the ball pretty effectively behind Steven Jackson, who averaged 4.7 yards per carry while gaining 71 yards on 15 carries, including a long run of 22 yards. Jackson left at one point with an undisclosed injury but was able to finish the ballgame. It will be worth monitoring the injury report this week to see where both Jackson and Smith stand in preparation for the Washington Redskins.
Tackling machine: Although rookie linebacker Paul Worrilow's most memorable play from Sunday was his kick assist on Sean Weatherspoon’s 71-yard interception return for a touchdown, Worrilow again put up impressive individual numbers. He finished with 12 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one tackle for loss, two quarterback hits and one pass defense. It marked the sixth straight game Worrilow had reached double figures in tackles. And he’d be the first to say he missed a couple he should have had. Maybe Worrilow should get some rookie of the year votes.
Most of the Packers seemed confused by the play and stopped. Weatherspoon didn’t.
"We’re just coached to finish," Weatherspoon said. "You want to sell it, even if it ain’t ... so what if it hit the ground, you still have got to take that chance.
"That’s a great play by Worrilow. I’m not sure what happened to the ball before he hit it -- before he kicked it, actually. It’s awesome, though."
Weatherspoon, who missed seven games with a Lisfranc foot sprain, made the play much more dramatic with his long run and a smooth sidestep to avoid 318-pound Packers offensive guard T.J. Lang.
"I had to cut back," Weatherspoon said. "That’s why we kind of have to time it up where I didn’t want to exert too much. And I cut back on him, and the guys just led me."
Robert Alford threw the key block on Packers receiver Jarrett Boykin while Worrilow raced down the field also looking to clear a path for Weatherspoon. Worrilow explained how the play got kick-started.
"It was just a reaction," Worrilow said of the kicked ball. "It’s not like I was trying to kick it to myself. I really had no control over it. It was just a natural reaction. I was just trying to keep the ball in play. Fortunately, it went to Spoon and not somebody else.
"As soon as I saw he had it, I took off trying to make a block for him. It was a big play. It was a big momentum swing."
Yet the Falcons couldn’t sustain the momentum. They scored two touchdowns as a result of turnovers: the Weatherspoon return and Matt Ryan's 2-yard touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez after Malliciah Goodman recovered a Flynn fumble, caused by William Moore.
Although the result was a victory for the Packers, the kicked interception is sure to be the most memorable moment of the game.
"That was a unique play in terms of the ball was tipped and then it was kicked up in the air," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "Sean made a great run after the catch. And we had some guys doing a nice job blocking downfield."
"It's always frustrating; if you're a competitor, it is," Douglas said. "You just have to make plays. I knew it was going to be open. I've just got to get my eyes on it."
A few missed opportunities were the difference in the Falcons blowing a 21-10 lead falling to an unthinkable 3-10 rather than stringing together back-to-back wins for the first time this season. Of course, Matt Bryant's missed 52-yard field goal attempt was the most glaring, although Bryant felt he kicked the ball as well as he could under the circumstances.
The Douglas drop was even magnified by the fact that Ryan was intercepted by Jarrett Bush on the very next play, essentially ending the game.
And even sure-handed tight end Tony Gonzalez failed to come up with a timely catch after the Falcons elected to go for it on fourth-and-5 from the Packers 33-yard line with two minutes remaining in regulation. Bush made a solid play on the ball, which affected Gonzalez's ability to corral it.
"I've caught that ball a bunch, and it would have been a great catch," Gonzalez said. "I looked at the replay and [Bush] made a good play. I give him credit. But that's one of those … I'd love to have it back."
Bush talked about the play from his perspective.
"To play a great player like Tony Gonzalez is always a challenge," Bush said. "I just did my due diligence studying him and knowing what he likes to do, route wise and scheme wise. It paid huge dividends today."
The Falcons had a handful of dropped passes on a day Ryan completed 20 of 35 passes for 206 yards. He threw touchdowns passes to Drew Davis (36 yards) and Gonzalez.
If only Ryan could have connected with either Douglas or Gonzalez in the end.
"I feel like I need to make a better throw," Ryan said of the fourth-down pass to Gonzalez. "It was good coverage and they defended it well, but I feel like I need to put it in a better spot for him to be able to make a play on it."
Several Falcons players said the wind picked up in the second half, but they didn't use it as an excuse for going scoreless over the final 30 minutes. The only play pointed to as being truly affected by the weather was Bryant's missed field goal.
"It was cold, but you can't blame it on the weather," Gonzalez said of the loss in general. "You've got to make the play out there. We are all out there having to play in those elements.
"It's going to bother me. It bothers the hell out of me that I wasn't able to make [the play]. But I've made it before. And I know next time, I'll make it. No doubt."
The Falcons failed to convert on fourth-and-5 from the Packers' 33-yard line as Tony Gonzalez couldn't come up with a pass from Matt Ryan. Green Bay cornerback Jarrett Bush defended the pass well, which affected Gonzalez.
"Well, we had missed from the [34-yard line] on the prior attempt and it was about 2 or 3 yards short," Smith said. "… So we did not think that we had an opportunity there to kick the field goal. And that's why we went for it on fourth down."
The elements no doubt factored into the decision. It was 9 degrees at kickoff with a wind chill of minus-1 at snowy Lambeau Field. Bryant came up short on several attempts during warmups and did the same on his one attempt.
"We felt like, going in warmups, that was right at the line for us to kick it," Smith said, referring to the missed 52-yarder. "The ball, he hit it good. The ball just didn't carry. It's tough to judge when you starting talking about hitting cold balls."
Bryant didn't question his coach's choice not to go for the second attempt, although Bryant obviously wanted to redeem himself. But Bryant felt good about his initial try.
"As soon as it left my foot, I thought it was in all the way," Bryant said. "And then I happened to look up and see the guy waving 'no good.' So, I was kind of surprised because that was probably the best ball I hit, counting the extra points. From the sideline, they said it looked like it got to a certain point and just kind of stopped.
"If I had that one over again, I think I could have made a few little adjustments here and there. Today was a tough day from that kind of distance, in my opinion."
Bryant said the wind was "weird" Sunday, yet he still felt confident about how he hit the 52-yarder. In terms of the adjustments he could have made, the kicker offered a simple solution.
"Swing harder," he said.
Sunday marked just the fourth time Bryant had kicked outdoors this season. He is now 2 of 4 from 50-plus yards this season.
Packers kicker Mason Crosby made field goals of 40, 33 and 25 yards.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A few thoughts on the Atlanta Falcons' 22-21 loss against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Lambeau Field.
What it means: At least the 3-10 Falcons showed they could compete in the elements. This was their first true cold-weather game of the season after playing nine of the first 12 indoors. They jumped out to a 21-10 lead, and though the conditions contributed to a missed 52-yard field goal attempt by Matt Bryant, the Falcons didn’t seem to be affected at all by the scattered snow, light wind and temperatures in the teens and below. The only other game the Falcons play that would be affected by weather is at San Francisco (Dec. 23), where rain sometimes is a factor.
Dropping the ball: Rather than allow Bryant to attempt a 51-yard field goal after his miss from 52 yards, the Falcons went for a critical fourth-and-5 from the Green Bay 33 in the final minutes. Matt Ryan tried to find tight end Tony Gonzalez, but the ball was a little behind him. It allowed Packers cornerback Jarrett Bush to make a play on the ball, and Gonzalez couldn’t come up with the catch despite having it in his hands. Gonzalez is tough on himself, so he’ll probably chalk that up as a drop. When the Falcons got the ball back for a final drive, Harry Douglas had a crucial drop in the final seconds that might have helped set up a game-winning field goal.
Stock watch: Linebackers for the Falcons saw their stock soar. Sean Weatherspoon took a ball that deflected off fellow linebacker Paul Worrilow's foot and rambled 71 yards for an interception return when most of the Packers thought the play was dead. Outside of his soccer-style assists, Worrilow once again surpassed double digits in tackles and came blitzing for a sack. He also assisted on another sack. Maybe he should get some rookie of the year consideration.
Youth movement: The Falcons continued to groom some of their young players for the future. Rookie cornerback Robert Alford started ahead of Asante Samuel at left cornerback, and Ryan Schraeder didn’t start but took most of the snaps at right tackle ahead of Jeremy Trueblood. Both had their hiccups, but that’s part of the growing pains. Also, rookie Zeke Motta stepped in at safety after starter Thomas DeCoud was knocked out of the game with a head injury. Motta showed his ability to tackle, but had some problems in coverage. Not to be forgotten was wide receiver Drew Davis, who hauled in a 36-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter.
What's next: The Falcons return to the comfort of the Georgia Dome for a matchup with the struggling Washington Redskins. Robert Griffin III has lost some of the luster that followed his outstanding rookie season. Still, the Falcons have to be aware of his capabilities.
DeCoud was injured in the first quarter while attempting to tackle Packers rookie running back Eddie Lacy. On the play, Lacy scored a 1-yard touchdown.
DeCoud remained on the ground for a few minutes then exited the field while escorted by members of the team's training staff.
Kick start: One of the most unbelievable plays of the season occurred at the end of the first half. Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon returned an interception 71 yards for a touchdown after the ball bounced off teammate Paul Worrilow's foot. Many of the Packers thought the ball hit the ground, so give Weatherspoon credit for keeping the play alive and running with the ball. He even made a nice running back-style cut to get past slow-footed Packers guard T.J. Lang. It was definitely a "SportsCenter" top-10 play. And it will be talked about in the locker room all week, based on how vocal Weatherspoon is.
Finding rhythm: Ryan completed nine of his first 10 passes for 85 yards and two touchdowns. He promised leading into the game that he wouldn't allow the weather to consume him and promised the play without a glove on his throwing hand. Ryan continues to find Roddy White for key third-down conversions.
In the running: Jackson has helped Ryan by establishing the running game and giving the offense some balance. Jackson gained 55 yards on his first nine carries, including a 22-yard run. One side note, Jackson said he considered signing with the Packers in the offseason.
Injury update: Starting free safety Thomas DeCoud suffered a head injury and is out for the remainder of the game. Although the last thing the Falcons need is another injury, DeCoud being out allows the coaches to take a longer look at rookie Zeke Motta, who has been primarily a special-teamer. Motta made a nice tackle on one play but also slipped in coverage on an 18-yard pass play from Matt Flynn to Jordy Nelson.
He was right on point.
Tight end Tony Gonzalez and safety Zeke Motta were the only players questionable for the game, and both players are active. Gonzalez has a nagging toe injury while Motta continues to wear a cast after breaking a finger on his right hand.
Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (knee) and guard Peter Konz (ankle) were listed as probable coming off injuries and are active, as expected.
The full inactives for the Falcons are the following: running Josh Vaughan, safety Kemal Ishmael, linebacker Omar Gaither, guard Harland Gunn, tackle Terren Jones, tackle Sean Locklear, and defensive tackle Travian Robertson.
The Packers playing without starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) takes some of the luster out of the matchup. But the home team is still dangerous, particularly with standout pass-rusher Clay Matthews back to form.
Here’s what to watch for Sunday at Lambeau Field:
Tackling the issue: The Falcons have missed 28 tackles over the previous two games, including two critical whiffs that led to explosive plays by the Buffalo Bills last week. As they prepare to face bruising rookie running back Eddie Lacy, the Falcons have to rectify their tackling issues. "I think, No. 1, is getting 11 guys to the ball,’’ safety William Moore said. "I don’t care if you have to run from the other side of the field, man. Most of our explosive plays allowed come from [yards after the catch]. Upon first contact, there should be 10 more guys to explode up on the runner.’’
Next in line: The coaches have raved about the potential of undrafted rookie offensive tackle Ryan Schraeder, who is finally getting a chance to show he can contribute. Offensive line coach Pat Hill promised Schraeder would get plenty of looks against the Packers, who boast a formidable pass rush led by Matthews. Although Schraeder was praised for his effort against the Bills last Sunday, he was far from perfect. "There are things, technique-wise, assignment-wise … I wasn’t perfect and I’ll admit that,’’ Schraeder said. "But I did some good things. I moved some guys off the ball. I feel like I pass protected pretty well when I was out there. The more snaps you get, the more things there are to critique.’’
In a rush: Diminutive running back Antone Smith seems to make a play every time he touches the ball. He has four carries for 137 yards and two touchdowns in the past three games. But Smith had just 17 total offensive snaps in those games. Although everyone seems to be lobbying for Smith, the reality is he’s still listed as the fourth-string running back. "My mindset isn't going to change whether it’s one carry, two carries, three carries or no carries,’’ Smith said. "I’m going to have the same approach every week, preparing like I’m the guy but just going out and doing my job. You paying [Steven Jackson] Jax a lot of money. I mean, he’s here to run the ball. And that’s obvious respect. He’s a great back, man. I don’t take no carries from a guy like him.’’
Out in the cold: The Falcons have played nine of their 12 games indoors this season, and the coldest outdoor game was 62 degrees at Carolina. Come Sunday, they could be looking at temperatures in the teens with a 50 percent possibility of snow. "What I see with the cold weather is that it’s all up to you,’’ Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez explained. "It’s in your head and it’s how you deal with it. And some guys are different. … Obviously, we’re a dome team and we play in some warm weather. So I’m anxious to see how we respond. I think we’ll be OK. Hopefully, it’s not going to have any type of bearing on how we perform.’’
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner, facing a one-year suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse, will continue the appeal process after turning down a deal to shorten the ban, NFL.com reported.
Browner was given the opportunity to reduce the ban by nearly three months, according to a Friday report by Fox Sports. The decision means Browner could find himself out of action until next December if the appeal isn't successful.
Browner, 29, set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, has not played since injuring his groin against the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 10. He returned to practice this week but already has been ruled out of Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers.
A key member of the Seattle secondary, Browner made the Pro Bowl as a 27-year-old rookie after going undrafted out of Oregon State. He played three seasons in the CFL before garnering his first NFL job.
Seattle (11-1), which own's the league's best record, can clinch the NFC West with a win against the 49ers.