The Falcons did it. I repeat, the Falcons did it! They took the step that so many fans wanted to see after coming “close” several times to getting a huge win that could lead to much bigger and better things. The last second comeback against the Chicago Bears in 2008 was its own big win and breaking the curse once and for all against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was also one of the best in franchise history. But beating the defending Super Bowl Champion Saints in their home, one of the toughest places to play in the NFL, was one that could reveal a huge opportunity to lead to much higher goals. A dose of reality is definitely needed here: no titles, trophies, or rings are handed out in the 3rd week. And if the Falcons go on to lose games that they definitely should win, than this win is all for not. Having said that however, this one has the potential to instill a confidence and belief in this young team that they can, and should, win every game they play no matter when or where. Five film reviews from the huge win……..
It’s not the traditional tailback tandem in that Michael Turner and Jason Snelling aren’t complementary in terms of one being a power back and one being a change of pace back, but these two power backs might be one of the best running back tandems in the NFL. With Jerious Norwood being lost for the year, all carries now are being divided solely between #33 and #44. The power pair combined for over 170 total yards rushing. Turner has his moments of looking a little slow, but he had drives where he looked like the Turner of old. Snelling runs hard and hits the hold with intensity. He also gives a little more flexibility in the pass game as well. The new muscle pair’s strength showed how they can wear down a defense when they ran the ball right down the Saints throat for the winning drive in overtime. Who needs thunder and lightning when you have “Thunder and Boom!”
The Falcons driving in overtime after getting the ball back. A timeout is called and the camera peers over to the Falcons sidelines. The head coach looks as though he’s about to say something and tell the offense a few words of wisdom, but he can’t because someone else is in his way. That would be quarterback Matt Ryan yelling at his offense and firing them up for the game winning drive. Coach Smith simply waited. After all the talk about not having a strong enough arm, throwing too many picks, regressing, or not being the real deal, pretty much all questions should cease regarding this franchise quarterback. He didn’t throw for 400 yards or 5 touchdowns, but he led drive after drive to answer the Saints counterpunch for punch in the great game. He converted many huge third and longs and many 4th enormous third downs as well. He’s still missing Harry Douglas on some long balls, but if he does make that connection than really watch out. Ryan took a major step against the Saints in New Orleans.
One of the biggest reasons why the Saints hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl 44 was due to the fact that they had one of the most opportunistic defenses in terms of turnovers. They were never know for completely shutting down teams in the mold of Baltimore or Pittsburgh, but rather of getting enormous turnovers at exactly the right time. While the Falcons were the ones protecting the ball, the Birds defense was the one that created the turnovers. Brent Grimes read a flea-flicker perfectly and leaped to grab the first pick, Thomas DeCoud nabbed another win with Brees acting like Brett Favre, and Mike Peterson laid the wood to rookie Chris Ivory that caused a fumble on a huge 3rd down. Now, the Falcons have some serious work to do on defense because they gave up over 400 yards of offense. That’s not good at all, but they came up with huge stops and turnovers when they were needed. Thankfully, they weren’t remembered as losing the game by letting the Saints march down the field in OT or driving to tie the game at the end of regulation. But give credit where its due in that they helped beat the defending Super Bowl Champions.
One of the most surprising developments so far is the normally excellent and consistent special teams not living up to par this year. The Falcons kickoff and punt coverage in particular has been pretty bad. The Falcons go three and out on their first possession and the ensuing punt coverage allowed Lance Moore to bolt 72 yards inside the five yard line. 3 plays later the Saints had jumped on the Falcons 7-0 and the Superdome was crazy. Thankfully the Falcons offense took answered right back to even the score and level the game. Kickoff coverage has been poor as well. And we can’t forget the Pittsburgh overtime meltdown as well which included a holding penalty from Ovie Mughelli and a really terrible punt by Michael Koenen, who gets a break because it was one of his only bad punts. The punt that hit Thomas DeCoud’s foot was a fluke play, but that could have been a chance for the Falcons to ice the game. Special teams coach Keith Armstrong is one of the best in the business and there have been a few bright spots such as Shann Schillinger and Matt Bryant locking in as cool as a cucumber, but the normally consistent special teams must find a way to get back to their previous form.
Brian Van Gorder and Mike Mularkey both called good games and had good designs for the Saints that resulted in a huge win. Van Gorder has transformed the Falcons defense from bend-but-don’t-break to an aggressive, pressuring defense. Even though the D only registered two sacks, they were getting pressure on Brees throughout the game and obviously have made huge strides in creating turnovers. The previously maligned Mike Mularkey called another good game that resulted in a balanced attack. He used the power tandem of Turner and Snelling to wear down the Saints defense and allowed Matt Ryan to flourish with a combination of short dump-offs, intermediate routes, and deep shots. The game-winning drive was masterful in ramming the ball down the Saints throat to win the notch the win. All that being said, Van Gorder allowed the Saints to thoroughly gash the defense to a tune of over 400 yards and seemingly couldn’t find an answer for Lance Moore impersonating Jerry Rice. The Saints destroyed the Falcons D with screen after screen. Mularkey almost lost the game at the end of regulation by going way too conservative. Even though the running game looked good in the final total, he kept calling the same inside running play with Turner to little success. He also took Snelling out when he seemed to have the hot hand. Finally, Mularkey had a chance to ice the game before overtime and failed to by going way too conservative, which than allowed the Saints to march down and tie the game. Definitely nit-picking because both were good gameplans and the Falcons beat the defending Super Bowl Champs at home, but there is some room for improvement.
Falcons being ignored in the national media? Vince Young had a better day than Matt Ryan? The Falcons got lucky and didn’t deserve to win at all? Not sure if there’s anything intentional, but reference these jokers to what they are: clown shoes.
-How big was this win: signature win or too early?
-Is Turner-Snelling a lethal combination?
-Does the backfield need a speed threat?
-Give your nickname for the Turner-Snelling combo.
-Has Matt Ryan finally arrived?
-How’d you like the fire emanating from #2?
-Overall impressions of the defense?
-Like the turnovers or way too many yards?
-Happy with the defensive pressure or need more?
-What’s the deal with special teams?
-Is special teams way below par this year or just a few games?
-Overall thoughts on coordinators gameplans?
-What the H with the clown shoe haters on the Falcons?