Falcons still thrive on play-action

Michael Turner’s numbers and playing time have dipped this season, but opposing defenses still are keeping close tabs on the Atlanta running back.

Defenses still are biting on play-action fakes. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan has completed 71.1 percent (59-of-83) of his play-action passes. That percentage ranks second in the league, behind only San Francisco’s Alex Smith (80.8 percent), who has been benched.

The rest of the NFC South quarterbacks haven’t been nearly as successful as Ryan off play-action.

Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman, who has the division’s leading rusher in Doug Martin, is No. 21 with a 61.2 percent (60-of-98) completion rate. But Freeman does have nine touchdown passes off play-action, which is only one less than the league leaders.

New Orleans’ Drew Brees is tied with Matt Schaub and Peyton Manning for the league lead in touchdowns off play-action. But Brees also has thrown five interceptions off play-action, which puts him only one behind league leader Mark Sanchez. Brees is No. 22 in play-action completion percentage at 60.6 (63-of-104).

Carolina’s Cam Newton is No. 23 at 60.3 percent (70-of-116), but Newton’s 1,214 yards on play-action passes rank No. 3 in the league.