Here are my three short takes from the Falcons’ win over Dallas Sunday night:
1. Julio Jones is a difference maker: With every play he makes, the Falcons’ receiver buries concerns by some that the Falcons might have given up too much in trade for him before the draft two years ago. Jones finished with five catches covering 129 yards. That includes a 38-yard catch in the first quarter while he was being mugged by Morris Claiborne (who was called for pass interference) and a 48-yard gain in the fourth quarter when he lined up in the backfield, took a short pass and bolted past the likes of DeMarcus Ware. He also ran for eight yards on a reverse on third-and-1.
2. Matt Ryan shows toughness: Ryan was hit so hard on a blindside sack by Ware that it looked like he might have to come out for a few plays. He didn’t. He was sacked three times and leveled after several throws on a night when the offensive line had its worst game in pass protection (which had been a strength this season). Statistically, Ryan threw for 342 yards on 24-of-34 passing, and that doesn’t account for at least two drops and two throw-aways).
3. This team doesn’t beat itself: Do the Falcons have flaws? Of course. The NFL is devoid of great teams. But they don’t beat themselves. They committed only two penalties for 15 yards and did not have a turnover. (Ryan fumbled on the aforementioned Ware sack but it was recovered.) A team can go far in this league if it doesn’t make dumb mistakes.
– By Jeff Schultz
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