Note: This post is an adjunct to the game column off the Falcons’ 23-20 victory over Oakland, which can be found here.
1. The Falcons’ bye week comes at a propitious moment. They’re 6-0 and riding high, and after three fourth-quarter escapes they’re getting the feeling they can win without playing their best. They need to disabuse themselves of that notion posthaste, and having a week away from football might serve as a reality check. If not, the guess is that Mike Smith will remind them that these past three games could easily have been lost when the team reconvenes next week in Flowery Branch.
2. The run defense is getting offensive, as it were. The Falcons ranked 28th among 32 NFL clubs in rushing defense entering Sunday’s game, and the Raiders, possessors of the league’s lowest-ranked running attack, ground out 149 yards. If that’s not a red flag, then Betsy Ross wasn’t a seamstress. Particularly galling was backup tailback Michael Goodson’s 43-yard burst to the Falcons’ 47 in a tie game with 5:41 remaining. Thanks to Asante Samuel, the Raiders didn’t score on the possession, but still.
3. If you have to have a one-man pass rush, John Abraham is the one man to have. He had three sacks, two quarterback hurries and a forced fumble. Offensive tackle Willie Smith, charged with trying to stop Abraham, was called for holding three times. The Raiders were flagged 13 times — 12 of those penalties were accepted — and five of those calls were holding against Raider linemen. Said Mike Smith of Abraham: “He was un-blockable.”
Oh, and if you’re wondering, “Where’s the Monday morning Heat Check?” … it’s right here.
Further reading: The Falcons are 6-0, but certain other numbers don’t add up.
By Mark Bradley