Falcons running backs Jacquizz Rodgers, left, and Michael Turner combined for 126 rushing yards and a touchdown on 20 carries last week against the Saints to give the Falcons a formidable 1-2 threat.
The Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers running back committee might work after all.
For the second game in a row, Rodgers took more snaps at running back than Turner in Thursday night’s victory over the New Orleans Saints
Rodgers played 53 percent (31 of 58) of the offensive snaps. Turner played 34 percent (20 of 58).
Turner and Rodgers combined for 126 rushing yards on 20 carries and one touchdown against the Saints.
Turner, Rodgers, Jason Snelling and Mike Cox combined for eight catches for 38 yards.
Cox, who is getting up to speed since being re-signed on Nov. 7, had some nice lead blocks in the run game against the Saints.
“Mike Cox probably played his best game since he’s been here, including the games that he played last year,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said.
“We got some movement at the line of scrimmage. We got our backs to the second level, and when you get backs to the second level, you’re going to get a chance to get some explosive runs.”
Smith noted that the Falcons had five runs of 12 yards or more against the Saints.
It was the fourth consecutive home game in which Turner has scored a rushing touchdown.
With the 58th score of his tenure as a Falcon, Turner broke the mark previously held by Falcons wide receiver Terance Mathis, who played in Atlanta from 1994 to 2001.
With the Falcons determined to run on the Saints, Turner had 67 yards on five carries in the first quarter. That total was more than he gained in all but three other games this season.
Turner was held to 17 yards on 13 carries Sunday against Tampa Bay.
In the previous meeting with the Saints, Turner was held to 15 yards on 13 carries and was stopped on a key third-and-goal from the 1-yard line with 1:56 to play in the 31-27 loss.
ENJOYING THE WEEKEND: With the Thursday game, the Falcons approached the weekend as a mini-bye. Smith gave the players the weekend off.
“We’re just starting the fourth quarter of the season, and there is going to be a lot of things happening over these last four weeks,” Smith said. “It’ll be fun for the teams involved. It ought to be fun for the fans, and it’s going to be fun for the coaches. Football in December, it can’t get any better.”
The extra time gave cornerback Asante Samuel’s shoulder extra time to heal.
“Asante knocked his shoulder again on the deep ball there,” Smith said. “Unfortunately for us, he only got three snaps in (Thursday’s) ballgame.”
Christopher Owens and Robert McClain split up Samuel’s playing time. Owens played outside in the nickel and McClain went inside.
McClain played outside in the base defense.
“It was very good to see Christopher Owens come in and man that corner position,” Smith said. “I thought he did a nice job. He had a pass breakup on a deep ball there in the second quarter.”