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NFL: Atlanta 41, Jacksonville 14

Dec. 15, 2011 at 11:50 PM   |   Comments

ATLANTA, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Matt Ryan threw for three touchdowns Thursday and improved Atlanta's playoff chances by leading the Falcons to a 41-14 blasting of Jacksonville.

Atlanta won for the seventh time in nine games and advanced to 9-5, in solid position for at least a wild-card berth. New Orleans (10-3) is out front in the NFC South and will try to regain a two-game lead over Atlanta Sunday when it meets Minnesota.

The Falcons and Saints face each other the day after Christmas in Atlanta.

Ryan opened the scoring with a 29-yard pass to Julio Jones in the first period and his other two touchdown tosses went to Roddy White -- who caught a 6-yarder in the second quarter and a 29-yarder in the third, and went over 1,000 yards receiving for the fifth straight year, the first player in franchise history to put together such a streak.

Atlanta built a 41-0 lead before Jacksonville managed to score on the return of a blocked punt by Zach Potter late in the third period.

Jacksonville (4-9) came into the game last in the NFL in yards per game with 260. The Jaguars managed only 207 total yards against the Falcons and 85 of those came against mostly backup defenders during a drive that ended in a Blaine Gabbert-to-Chastin West 16-yard touchdown pass with 59 seconds left in the game.

Atlanta forced four turnovers, one of them resulting in a touchdown when Corey Peters ran a fumble back 13 yards early in the second half.

Ryan completed 19-of-26 passes for 224 yards. White had 10 receptions for 135 yards.

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