Falcons keep winning even though the way keeps changing

The picture says it all: Matt Ryan and the Falcons have been ascending for weeks.

Matt Ryan and the Falcons have been ascending for weeks.

All they do is win. Sometimes it’s Michael Turner running. Sometimes it’s Roddy White flying. Sometimes they just stretch it out and let their balding 35-year-old kicker end the suspense on the last play because, well, it’s good for ratings and keeps us all guessing.

“We’re just tying to give people their money’s worth,” linebacker Mike Peterson said.

They’re building a fat bank account. The NFL season is moving into December and the Falcons already are sitting on nine wins. They’re 9-2, a record that only the New England Patriots and New York Jets can match.

Winning has become so commonplace that they just clinched their third straight winning season and it was barely mentioned.

“It’s an afterthought,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “Last season at this time we weren’t having a positive season and the conversation was we still hadn’t put together back-to-back winning seasons. It’s a nice feeling to have that behind us.”

They played Tampa Bay for first place in the NFC South. They won. They played Baltimore amid doubts that they belonged among the league’s elite. They won.

On Sunday they played Green Bay, which had won its last three games by a composite score of 85-10 and was the most recent leader in the oh-they’re-going-to-the-Super-Bowl derby. While it came down to a Matt Bryant field goal with nine seconds left to secure a 20-17 win – the fact remains that it was the Packers who were scrambling to find ways to beat this team.

The Falcons are good enough to win a Super Bowl. Here are a few reasons why:

♦ On a day when the Packers often doubled White and made sure he was a non-factor, quarterback Matt Ryan still completed 24 of 28 passes to nine different receivers against one of the league’s top defenses and engineered two14-play, 80-yard and seven-and-a-half-minute touchdown drives, the kind that can demoralize an opponent.

♦ They don’t beat themselves. They did not have a turnover for the fourth straight game and won the turnover battle for the eighth time in 11 games (all wins).

♦ The defense. Yes, the defense.

Aaron Rodgers lies on the turf after getting drilled by the Falcons' Brian Williams. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Aaron Rodgers lies on the turf after getting drilled by the Falcons' Brian Williams. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

There have been times you’ve wondered about it and maybe covered your eyes. But did you watch the Packers on Sunday? One of the NFL’s premier teams, led by Aaron Rodgers, struggled at times to deal with the Falcons’ speed on defense. How rare is that in recent history?

Green Bay totaled more than 400 yards in offense. But it often was able to extend drives only because Rodgers managed to scramble away from the pass rush. (He led the Packers in rushing with 51 yards, including three first downs.)

Rodgers was sacked once and smacked a few other times, most notably by Brian Williams in the fourth quarter. He also was clocked by Curtis Lofton and fumbled at the Falcons’ one-yard-line in the second quarter (Peterson recovering).

In the third quarter, having been held to a field goal, the Packers resorted to trying a flea-flicker. (It worked, with Rodgers taking a pitch and completing a 34-yard pass to Greg Jennings). In the fourth, with the Falcons leading 17-10, Rodgers bought time on fourth-and-1 from the Falcons’ 21 and threw a desperation shovel pass to James Jones for 18 yards. Later, on fourth and goal from the 10, he bought time and eventually found Jordy Nelson for a tying touchdown with 56 seconds remaining.

Quoth Peterson: “We left our offense just enough time to win it.” Again.

Eric Weems returned a kickoff 40 yards and survived despite a facemask penalty on Matt Wilhelm that looked like a cartoon from Hell. Ryan, starting from the Packers’ 49, completed four straight passes to move the ball to the 29. Bryant took it from there, just as he did against New Orleans and San Francisco.

The Falcons celebrated afterward but it wasn’t at nearly at the champagne-spraying level. They’ve come to expect this.

“We’re ascending right now,” linebacker Curtis Lofton said.

“We think we’re developing something special,” cornerback Thomas DeCoud said.

“It’s a great feeling,” said Peterson. “We win, but when we come back to work next week it’s like everybody forgot all about Sunday.”

Another winning season becomes an afterthought.  Welcome to the Falcons’ alternate universe.

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

291 comments Add your comment

Nickster79

November 28th, 2010
7:00 pm

5150 P.O.A.D.

November 28th, 2010
7:01 pm

Wow Vick got picked off today and the Eagles have kicked 3 field goals and only 1 TD

Nickster79

November 28th, 2010
7:02 pm

Nice!

As far as the game goes, nice to see the Falcons closing out games like this. It makes a huge difference having a field goal kicker that is money at the end of the game every time. We’ve come a long way from the Jason Elam days.

Jake

November 28th, 2010
7:04 pm

Haha cheeseheads. You lost. No playoffs for you. Wait til new england rips you one too.

5150 P.O.A.D.

November 28th, 2010
7:04 pm

Falcons are Great. Long Road Trip ahead. 3 away games so Keep Kicking butt Falcons and Matt Ryan.
To Hell with VICK and his fans on this Blog.
To Hell with The Saints and Saints fans on this Blog.

Bill

November 28th, 2010
7:05 pm

Our pass rush is weak. That is going to hurt us come playoff time.

Fitten

November 28th, 2010
7:15 pm

Falcons are most frustrating team in NFL

for opponents.

We convert 3rd downs. Our drives last forever. Our D gives up yards & yards but not points. We keep every opponent in the game until the end. We let them think they have a chance, bit win in the end.

Frustrating Falcons!!!

Headley Lamar

November 28th, 2010
7:16 pm

These arent your paw paw’s Falcons thats for sure.

Longest extended period of winning in franchise history.

Regardless or not if they win it this year the ship is headed in the right direction.

WOOOO FALCONS WOOOOO

November 28th, 2010
7:19 pm

Bears just defeated Mike Vick. WOO HOOO

C

November 28th, 2010
7:22 pm

Let’s go Falcons!

Huffdawg

November 28th, 2010
7:22 pm

The reason the doaws are crap and the Falcons are great… Jeff Van Gorder. We haven’t had a defense since he left.

Huffdawg

November 28th, 2010
7:22 pm

Matt

November 28th, 2010
7:23 pm

The Iggles are terrible, who is their QB again? One TD all day? Not very clutch.

Matt Ryan is clutch and the D had their moments when it counted today.

(BTW Mr. Schultz, I hope you do a column on the Thrashers incredible play of late.)

Supes

November 28th, 2010
7:27 pm

It’s great to be a FALCONS fan right now!

Bucs and Eagles lose…to top off the great day.

Steve

November 28th, 2010
7:33 pm

42 – 34 : )

The Grinch

November 28th, 2010
7:34 pm

The win coupled with the Eagles and Bucs loss is huge. Now if the Saints will start doing some losing we’ll be ion good shape. I like our playoff chances against anyone in the NFC as long as we’re at home.

Joe Tess Fish House

November 28th, 2010
7:35 pm

Flacons probably should of loss this game. Donta Robinson realy made a bad play….again. The bigest free agent rip off since…..ever!

Mr Blanks, how can U do this 2 us? Get rid of this guy now!

Yay!

November 28th, 2010
7:37 pm

Let’s go falcons keep up the great work! I expect this team to make a deep playoff run and maybe the superbowl. We really need to beat up on the eagles come playoff time. Other than that falcons are #1 baby!

Joe Tess Fish House

November 28th, 2010
7:37 pm

Also where was Perrier Jerry?

I notice Mat Ryan wear a nee brace. He is injrued? Why come he play with a hurt nee?

Joe Tess Fish House

November 28th, 2010
7:40 pm

This team looks liek they will back in to paly ofs.

Yay!

November 28th, 2010
7:40 pm

@ joe- i think its for extra safety on the knee. Matty ice takes a ton of slides on that ga dome turf he doesn’t want to skid or bruise his knee while sliding.

braves #1 fan

November 28th, 2010
7:41 pm

maybe the falcons get some respect on 1st and 10 now?!?!

Yay!

November 28th, 2010
7:42 pm

Rodgers took some big hits during this game. Im impressed by the falcons pass protection just stellar this season. Falcons have talent but we have big hearts and dedication which are the main reasons why were have had a marvelous season.

Joe Tess Fish House

November 28th, 2010
7:43 pm

Awwww he ascared he bruse his nee? U never saw Vick ascared of that.

Joe Tess Fish House

November 28th, 2010
7:43 pm

Awwww he ascared he bruse his nee? U never saw Vick ascared of that.

Reid Adair

November 28th, 2010
7:43 pm

What a great finish. It was an overall team performance.

Just curious, Jeff. When you wrote, “Rodgers bought time on fourth-and-1 from the Falcons’ 21 …:”, were you referring to the fact that the Packers got away with a delay of game on that play? Thankfully, that didn’t affect the result. In fact, it took a crazy flip of the ball from Rodgers to get a completion and keep their drive going.

Mike

November 28th, 2010
7:43 pm

“Also where was Perrier Jerry?

I notice Mat Ryan wear a nee brace. He is injrued? Why come he play with a hurt nee?”

what the hell did you just say?

braves #1 fan

November 28th, 2010
7:44 pm

23rd!!!!! who gives a s#@$!

Yay!

November 28th, 2010
7:45 pm

ESPN plays only 2 min of falcons highlights. Again more compliments on rodgers drive to tie the game up… Theyll probably show more bears highlights than ours. Ah good ol’ ESPN northeastern bias. Yankees, Red Sox, Chi Bears, Packers, Eagles, etc…

2012 FEAR THE END

November 28th, 2010
7:45 pm

Joe,

STFU, and please don’t bring up Vick,

Third winning season in a row

November 28th, 2010
7:46 pm

This win secures third streight winning season, and we’ve been expecting this. Unless, Ryan gets arrested for dog fighting operation, we are pretty sure next season would be a winning season as well!

Great to be a falcons fan!

Yay!

November 28th, 2010
7:49 pm

Matty ice is smart. Vick has no QB brain he just takes off if no one’s open. If a player is a smart Qb he’d throw it away and not risk a fumble or strip. Vick has had a stellar year but he’s not nearly as smart as matty ice. Vick is a 30 something and it was his own fault he got his ribs cracked. Lucky for him the eagles did not choke during that 3 week stretch.

braves #1 fan

November 28th, 2010
7:49 pm

Hey joe, Vick is gone, and you should get an education.

Joe Tess Fish House

November 28th, 2010
7:50 pm

Hay no need 2 inslut me. U wanna talk footbal, then tlaks football. U wanna insult me then we can meet some where and we can straiten this out.

No one anserd where Perrier Jerrys was in this game.

Supes

November 28th, 2010
7:52 pm

Yay!

Berman and crew just gave the Falcons and Matt Ryan major props on their NFL Sunday Night show.

Maybe SportsCenter (which is yankee bias for sure) but not the folks who know football.

Yay!

November 28th, 2010
7:52 pm

Peyton manning has smarts like ryan and look at how many rings he has? Many to say the least… How many will vick have in the remainder of his career? We will find out come playoff time whether he’s a smart qb or if he’ll just crack his ribs 1 more time?

Yay!

November 28th, 2010
7:54 pm

I love it how some fans here still think vick is a better option than matt ryan. Falcons 9-2, Eagles 7-4. Nuff said…

Third winning season in a row

November 28th, 2010
7:54 pm

Peyton has just one ring… Vick says he didn’t give his all as a Falcon. I don’t want ANYONE like that leading my team.

2012 FEAR THE END

November 28th, 2010
7:54 pm

Your not talking much football just typing like and idiot

braves #1 fan

November 28th, 2010
7:55 pm

All im saying is Vick flipped off the GA dome when things got tough. Ryan just seems to win when things get tough.

A27

November 28th, 2010
7:57 pm

HAHAHA…….. Take that you stupid cheeseheads!!!! I loved seeing you go down!!!!!! 9-2 read it and weep all you Falcon haters/chumps. Oh and GO THRASHERS keep shutting everyone up to> What great sports weekend for the ATL!!!!!!!!!!

Joe Tess Fish House

November 28th, 2010
7:57 pm

Still no word on Perrier Jerry?

Matt

November 28th, 2010
7:58 pm

Joe, obviously you did not graduate from Grade School. Go back to your “holler” outside “Filthadelphia” Pennsylvania and leave the thinking to the rest of the world.

Box

November 28th, 2010
7:59 pm

Stupid announcers were so pro green bay in this game. They love their little arron rogers.
Love a loser. haha

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ReidAdair, GamblingIQ (Dirty) and BJ McKinney, Jeff Schultz. Jeff Schultz said: Falcons keep winning even though the way keeps changing http://bit.ly/g44rn6 [...]

5150 P.O.A.D.

November 28th, 2010
7:59 pm

Good thing the NFL didn’t hand out that MVP trophy just yet. It seems Vick had a Human experience on the football field today. Vick was the first team of Pros to lose on the TV show Pros vs Joes. Vick ain’t nothing special as a person or as a player. I think it will take a few more years of being a HUMAN and a Pro Player that studies his craft before he can be Special.

Box

November 28th, 2010
8:00 pm

And how about that moron trent dilfer who has said all season we are a fake. That we aren’t a good team. yeah ok trent you doofus.

5150 P.O.A.D.

November 28th, 2010
8:02 pm

Watching Matt Ryan you see a player that wants to be his best not special. If Special happens so be it, but Matt wants his Team to be Special and works hard for that to happen.

Joe Tess Fish House

November 28th, 2010
8:02 pm

Matt I am hear to discuss football. U R not. U go somewhere is U dont want to paly nice.

Yay!

November 28th, 2010
8:03 pm

2012- Whats there to talk about u know we are better than philly and saints. If u wanna talk football talk about today’s game and matt ryan’s leadership qualities…
Football: Falcons 9-2, Saints 8-3, Eagles 7-4 i checked nfl.com complete standings. If u wanna check click this link:
http://www.nfl.com/standings