Weems provides brief spark with big return


Falcons punt returner Eric Weems gave the Falcons a spark in the first quarter and third quarter with a 41-yard punt return and a 50-yard kickoff return against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Levi Stadium.

“All that doesn’t matter to me, if we don’t come out with a W,” said Weems. “It’s a real empty feeling for me.”

With the Falcons holding a 3-0 lead, Weems stuttered stepped and broke out to the left. He came back across the field to the right and had plenty of room outside.

He didn’t get out to his right far enough and was tackled by San Francisco punter Bradley Pinion.

“I wasn’t really even looking at the punter,” Weems said. “I was looking at the guy inside because I wanted to cut back. By the time I put my eyes on the punter, he hit my legs.”

Weems credited his blockers for his best day of the season.

“The guys up front did a nice job tonight,” Weems said. “Them guys get all of the credit.”

With the Falcons trailing 17-13 at halftime, Weems took the second half kickoff out to his right and raced out to the 50-yard line. The offense has another spark, but couldn’t move the ball.

“That’s part of the game,” Weems said. “There are three phases to a game. We have been practicing hard all week to get this thing on the right track. We are trying to give this thing a spark because we’ve been lacking on our end the last few weeks. We are picking it up slowly.”

The Falcons wasted the punt return and then gave up a touchdown as San Francisco took a 7-3 lead.

It was Weems’ longest return since he had a 42-yard return in 2011. It was the Falcons’ longest return since Devin Hester had a 62-yarder against Tampa Bay in Week 3 of the 2014 season.

Weems continued to have a tough day.

He was pummeled on another return with 7:33 left in the second quarter. He was knocked out of bounds near the Falcons sidelines after a 14-yard return by San Francisco’s Vance McDonald.

The return set the Falcons up on the 49ers’ 45. After Matt Ryan completed a 26-yard pass to tight end Jacob Tamme on first down, the drive stalled. The Falcons could only muster one more yard and were forced to kick a field goal.

Matt Bryant’s 36-yard field goal cut the 49ers lead to a one point, 7-6.

After trailing 17-13 at halftime, Weems got the Falcons off to a good start in the third quarter with a 50-yard kickoff return.

The drive was aborted by a Ryan Schraeder holding penalty.


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