It wasn’t beautiful or awe-inspiring, but the Atlanta Falcons did what they had to do when it counted most to beat the desperate Dallas Cowboys to stay undefeated. The defense played a great game, the offense played good but fell short in the red zone, and even normally perfect Matt Bryant missed two field goals. Even though the media-elite talking heads will claim the Falcons still haven’t proven anything due to their style of play, the fact remains that the Birds are the only undefeated team in the NFL for a reason, despite their refusal to acknowledge the team’s quality. A look at another big win on another big stage……
Evidently the media-elite-ditto-talking-heads are trying to incorporate style points into the NFL, at least where the Falcons are concerned. It’s not good enough to win the games anymore, but rather they must utterly dominate by at least 50 points and if it doesn’t hit that margin, than they’re frauds or they haven’t won a playoff game, or the teams a legit opponent only until they lose to the Falcons. All the Falcons have to do is keep winning any way they can. They always haven’t been the prettiest and the Birds all know that the streak will likely come to an end at some point because as many of them have said, winning in the playoffs means more than being undefeated. Thank goodness, the NFL is all about results and doesn’t rely on computers to determine rank and championships like the BCS. Just keep winning.
The Falcons racked up some pretty impressive numbers against one of the NFL’s best defenses on Sunday Night. Even though Matt Ryan didn’t toss a touchdown, he did complete 70% of his passes for 342 yards. Michael Turner ran for over 100 yards, and both Roddy White and Julio Jones hauled in over 100 yards a piece. The offensive line wasn’t terrible, but wasn’t great either, but the biggest issue was the red zone woes that cropped up against the Cowboys. Be it play-calling, execution, or whatever the reason, the Falcons had to kick 5 field goals (missing 2) and could only muster one touchdown. Give credit where it’s due that the Birds scored a TD when it counted most, but that won’t always be quite good enough when facing some of the best offensive teams and must keep up with touchdowns instead of field goals.
He’s had 5 years of over 1,000 yard receiving, been to 4 Pro Bowls, and now just . eclipsed one of the most impressive marks in Atlanta Falcons franchise history: he is in sole possession of the Falcons all-time leading receiver. He may not have stormed out of the gates as a rookie, has had his share of off-the-field stuff, but no one epitomizes the Atlanta Falcons more than Roddy White. He just became the Falcons all-time leading receiver and he’s got plenty of gas left in the tank. A huge congratulations to Mr. Roddy White and signing his invitation to the Falcons Ring of Honor in the future.
Although many fans were hoping for the fast start the Falcons showed in Philadelphia, they quickly realized it would be a different game entirely in the first few minutes. The Falcons got the ball first and had one of the worst three and outs in recent memory. A fairly predictable run up the middle, an extremely weak screen / flare pass to lumbering Lousaka Polite, and a 3rd and long that came up short. The first series was a whopping 3 plays and 1 yard. The special teams had an uncharacteristic breakdown and the Cowboys returned it to the the Falcons red zone. Thankfully, the defense bowed their necks and made a huge early stop. The offense got a little more on track soon thereafter, but finished an 8 play, 61 yard drive with a missed field goal. Of course the Birds got it together, but the game surely got off to a slow start on offense.
His stats were miniscule and was not a factor at all in the run game, but Jacquizz Rodgers made two of the biggest plays of the game. Needing a 3rd down conversion with the Cowboys desperate to get the ball back, Quizz fielded a pass well short of the first down marker, but broke a tackle and rumbled for another 20 yards or so. Another 3rd down conversion had a similar setup later in the game and Rodgers basically broke a Cowboys defender’s ankles with an amazing juke move to get another first down. After a big week in Philadelphia in gaining over 100 all-purpose yards, his totals and targets were down against the Cowboys but he made two of the biggest plays of the entire night en route to victory.
He lost Brent Grimes in the season opener, lost Sean Weatherspoon late vs. the Eagles, and lost Peria Jerry early in the game vs. the Cowboys. Mike Nolan may not have the top ranked defense in terms of statistics, but he’s doing a superb job of limiting some of the best offenses in the NFL on a weekly basis. He forced Peyton Manning to throw interceptions in one half, dominated Phillip Rivers and Michael Vick, held super-talented Robert Griffin III in check, and held the talented Cowboys offense without a touchdown until just over 5 minutes in the game. He was without the leader, and arguably the Falcons best defender in Sean Weatherspoon, and figured out a way to keep the Cowboys in check.
The normally perfect Matt Bryant definitely had an off-night on Sunday evening. Bryant has been automatic this season, kicking several game-winning or game-securing field goals. Bryant missed not one, but two field goals in a game that turned out to be a field goal battle. Probably nothing to get worried about and hopefully it was just a bad night for Bryant’s usually automatic field goal kicks. Of course when the Falcons needed it most, Bryant delivered in with the last field goal that would force the Cowboys to score a touchdown with no timeouts instead of a field goal.
He won’t be confused with the absent Sean Weatherspoon anytime soon, but Akeem Dent turned in a really good game against the explosive Cowboys and gives fans hope that he may very well have the ability to be in the Falcons long-term plans. He struggled pretty mightily in the first few appearances, especially the Oakland game, but did a little better vs. Philadelphia and showed real signs of comfort against the Cowboys. He took over the captain helmet with Weatherspoon being out did a pretty darn good job. He certainly has areas to improve, but overall he showed a great sense of promise at linebacker that some fans had started to fret over.
It wasn’t the worst performance, but it surely was nowhere near the best play from the offensive line against the Cowboys. They were matched up against one of the best and most dominant pass rushers in the NFL in Demarcus Ware, but had some issues from time to time. Some of it may have been play-calling for the screen didn’t seem to be used against the aggressive Cowboys the way it was against the Eagles. Peter Konz is settling in at right guard, but Tyson Clabo is still having issues at right tackle. Again, it was far from their worst, but they need to clean up things this week for sure.
The fans have turned in some rocking times at the Georgia Dome this season and Matt Ryan’s home record of 30-4 is on the way to becoming one of the best in NFL history, but for whatever reason, the Falcons have played some of their best games on the road this season. To be fair, they’ve obviously won ALL the games they’ve played, but some of their best games (Kansas City, San Diego, Philadelphia) have come on the road. And some of their closest calls have come at home (Carolina, Oakland, Dallas). The Falcons did win one of their biggest games at home on Monday Night Football against Peyton Manning and the Broncos and the level of opponent has surely had something to do with it. But two of their worst performances came against teams with some of the worst records when they played them in Carolina (1-2) and Oakland (1-4) at home. The Cowboys game was a huge win on Sunday Night Football, especially from the defense, but wasn’t one of their best overall games.
Instead of talking about the undefeated Falcons, most NFL opinions are centering on where the first loss will come from. Or they mention how the Falcons haven’t won a playoff game yet. Guessing the NFL changed some rules in the off-season to allow for playoff games in November. Another said that Falcons fans crave respect. Correction: we don’t “crave respect,” but simply want them to objective and impartial towards all teams, not just the drama-filled favorites. Otherwise, just stop pretending that being balanced is a part of your business model. On NFL Network soon after the game there was an actual question whether the Falcons being undefeated or the Cowboys collapse was a bigger story. It’s curious to fans whether the players and team are noticing it and it appears they are. Tony Gonzalez mentioned how he was sure it would be about the Cowboys losing instead of the Falcons winning (correct) and Roddy White echoed something similar in an interview by former Falcon Alge Crumpler. The players are saying all the right things and that’s a testament to Smith’s leadership of the team. Hopefully, the players are using the lack of respect as a fuel for motivation.
1) Simple Quick Slant – what’s your overall thoughts on the victory over the Cowboys and the Falcons general state of affairs?
2) Thoughts on the offensive output vs. the Cowboys? Worried about the red zone woes?
3) Is Roddy White the Atlanta Falcons best all-time receiver? Destined for the Ring of Honor?
4) Do the Falcons have to start fast to play a great game? Your thoughts on the offensive play-calling vs. Dallas?
5) Is Jacquizz Rodgers purely a change of pace back or could he be something more?
6) How impressed are you with Mike Nolan’s work so far? Anything he can have the defense doing better?
7) Concerned about Matt Bryant’s two misses going forward?
8.) Have some of your concerns regarding Akeem Dent started alleviate?
9) Thoughts on how the OL played?
10) Are the Falcons playing better on the road this season?
11) How humorous is the media-elite’s obvious bias towards the Falcons?