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Steven Jackson keeps Falcons in the running

Steven Jackson and the Atlanta Falcons finally hit their stride in the running game.

A big part of Sunday's surprising 29-18 win against the Arizona Falcons was the offensive balance established. While Matt Ryan and Julio Jones were getting in done with the deep ball, Jackson proceeded to put up his first 100-yard rushing effort as a Falcon. He finished with 101 yards on 18 carries, and became the first Falcon to reach the 100-yard rushing mark in 35 games.

"Just another day at the office," Jackson said. "I need to be more consistent, and that's what I strive to do. We're going into the month of December where the games are going to be more challenging. We've set the bar now, and now we need to do it consistently."

Jackson helped set the tone early with a 55-yard run on the game's fourth play -- against a Cardinals team that ranked third in the league against the run and allowed just 84.5 yards per game, no less. On the long run, right guard Jon Asamoah, right tackle Ryan Schraeder, and tight end Levine Toilolo cleared a big hole, then receiver Devin Hester threw a block down the field. Jackson did the rest in shaking off three tackles once he got to the second level. He set the Falcons up for first-and-goal at the 1-yard line, and they eventually scored on Ryan's 1-yard touchdown pass to Toilolo.

"We faced a very challenging defense in the Arizona Cardinals," Jackson said. "They're really good, especially against the run. And the offensive line did a great job of creating holes for myself and the other guys."

Jackson looked fresh in playing 35 of 79 offensive snaps. Jacquizz Rodgers played 26 snaps and had an 11-yard catch out of the backfield, and rookie Devonta Freeman played 21 snaps and had a nifty 19-yard run. They all contributed to the Falcons' 500 total yards of offense, 142 of which came on the ground (34 carries).

The run game might be essential next Monday night against Green Bay, particularly if the weather at Lambeau Field factors into the game and keeps the Falcons from getting the passing game going.

"We've been kind of one off, in terms of our run game," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "When you watch the tape, we feel like we're one off here, we're one off there. This (offensive line) group had got five or six games underneath their belt, and they did a very good job blocking for Steven. It was good to see Steven create that explosive play."

The Falcons had seven plays of 19-plus yards in the game, topped by Jackson's 55-yarder. They will take that every Sunday.