No quibbling: The Falcons bear the look of a special team

Here we see cornerback Asante Samuel, exultant in sweet victory. (AP photo)

Here we see the expressive cornerback Asante Samuel, exultant in sweet victory. (AP photo)

Philadelphia – For three games they’d won without dazzling. This time they dazzled. The Falcons came to a city where they hadn’t won since Reagan was in office and won laughing. They overwhelmed the Philadelphia Eagles, whom the former Falcon Michael Vick once held to possess dynastic capabilities, and in so doing they moved to 7-0. In sum, they had a lovely Sunday afternoon in a place that was expecting nasty weather.

“We went on that field to play a game and dominate on all sides of the ball,” said free safety Thomas DeCoud, and they came pretty darn close.

The final score was 30-17, and that flattered the flattened losers. The Falcons scored on their first six possessions against a defense that had just dumped one coordinator for another. The Falcons’ relatively new offensive coordinator drew up a diverse and dizzying scheme. (Moral of story: Sometimes coordinators matter, and sometimes not.) And the players charged with implementing Dirk Koetter’s design had a banner day.

Matt Ryan returned to the city of his youth and had one of his finest games. (It was, he allowed, the first time his team had won in Philly since Boston College beat Temple in November 2004.) He completed 17 of 20 first-half passes and spread the ball so efficiently that the Eagles’ famous secondary couldn’t cover everybody, which explains, sort of, how slot receiver Drew Davis shook laughably free for the game’s first touchdown.

“Our receivers are pretty good,” said Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel, still chafed over having been traded by the Eagles last spring. “No question they could have used me.”

For its part, the Falcons’ D kept Vick so off-balance that the sleek Eagles did next to nothing until the game was gone. Vick didn’t turn the ball over, which was out of character, but he looked antsy and was sacked three times and booed throughout. (Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but Philly folks don’t take well to losing.)

By halftime, a goodly portion of the non-capacity Lincoln Financial Field had departed, and midway through the fourth quarter the place was half-empty. These fans were headed home to batten down hatches before Hurricane Sandy hit, and they left in a rotten mood. In what was supposed to be a key game for both teams, only one bothered to show up.

The Eagles’ first mistake was the coin toss. They won it, and Andy Reid chose to defer to the second half. The Falcons took the kickoff and rolled 80 yards in 8:44 to the Davis touchdown. Soon it would be 14-0, then 24-7 by the half, then 30-10 on the first snap of the fourth quarter, by which time Reid’s exemplary post-bye streak — under this coach, the Eagles had been 13-0 after off-weeks — was well and truly broken.

Said Mike Smith, who became the winningest coach in Falcons annals: “That (was) a fast, fast start. We moved in and out of (offensive) tempo the whole ballgame. We controlled it.”

Said center Todd McClure: “It’s tough to beat a team that doesn’t bring its punter on the field.” (Actually, the Falcons punted twice, both in the game’s final six minutes.)

After three victories achieved via fourth-quarter rallies, it was possible to wonder if the Falcons were unbeaten because of the level of opposition or the brilliance of their play. This game matched a team that had middling numbers (Falcons were 13th in total offense, 22nd in total defense) and a great record against an opponent that looked better on paper (Eagles were seventh in total offense, 12th in total defense) than in the standings (3-3). So much for truth in numbers, huh?

Better than winning, better even than being 7-0, was this: The Falcons looked like the more talented side by far, and it wasn’t so long ago that Philly dubbed itself a Dream Team. The jaw-dropping moment came in the second quarter, when Julio Jones dashed past the All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and outfought the safety Nate Allen for what was a stunning 63-yard touchdown.

“Julio’s a special talent,” said Ryan, who delivered a mighty pretty pass himself. “He ran a great route.”

If you can come here and thrash the Eagles, there’s no reason not to keep winning deep into January. After what transpired here beneath an ominous sky, we now know the Falcons aren’t 7-0 just because the other team keeps messing up. We now know that this has the makings of a special team, perhaps a championship team.

“We’re determined to come out and put our name on everything we do,” DeCoud said. “And we’re starting to hit our stride.”

If that stride gets much more elegant, the NFL might soon be engraving a new name on the Lombardi Trophy. The first three letters: A-T-L.

Further reading: The Falcons’ offense, their receivers and that Philly crowd.

By Mark Bradley

217 comments Add your comment

BG

October 28th, 2012
6:27 pm

zgoldatl

October 28th, 2012
6:27 pm

53 of them.
5 million of us.
Rise up Atlanta

Gamecocky

October 28th, 2012
6:28 pm

Good piece Mark and agree whole hardily with you on this……….

BravesFan227

October 28th, 2012
6:28 pm

zgoldatl

October 28th, 2012
6:29 pm

Mark-Any word on Spoon?

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2012
6:30 pm

Mark Bradley

October 28th, 2012
6:31 pm

Weatherspoon told D-Led he hurt his ankle but will be fine.

Chris

October 28th, 2012
6:31 pm

Great game… 7-0 7-0 7-0 7-0!!!!!!!!!!

Chris

October 28th, 2012
6:32 pm

and great news on Weatherspoon!

B

October 28th, 2012
6:32 pm

Two players have gotten arrested this year, and the team has just gotten better. Smitty must be one heck of a leader.

Gamecocky

October 28th, 2012
6:32 pm

After all the heartache from !966,when I 1st went to my 1st game till now,would be a lifelong dream to finally see ATLANTA FALCONS engraved on the Lombardi Trophy,but let’s not git’ ahead of ourself,a lot of football for our guys to play…….but that does sound nice and doable this year……..

Wrecker

October 28th, 2012
6:32 pm

Zgold–It looked like he was palpating his upper ankle. Hopefully, just an ankle sprain or deep bruise.

Wrecker

October 28th, 2012
6:34 pm

I loved seeing the defense flying to the ball. Simplification of the scheme and letting players be players has this defense “making plays.” The stats do not tell the entire story of the defense by any stretch.

zgoldatl

October 28th, 2012
6:34 pm

Thanks for the update mark and wrecker. Great win. See y’all in the Dome next weekend

Rocket20

October 28th, 2012
6:36 pm

What a great weekend!!!! First Dawg’s then the Bird’s…….. Life is good. Go Bronco’s……..

The Mighty Quinn

October 28th, 2012
6:40 pm

Was very impressed with the offensive scheme…and enjoyed the blog today.

Samuel

October 28th, 2012
6:41 pm

WOW- What a win these two coordinators on both sides of the ball, might be the best call Mike Smith has made to date.

Sdgsagf

October 28th, 2012
6:42 pm

Were Eagles 13-0 under Reid or 14-0? Everyone seems to have a different stat

Sick & Tired Of Being Sick & Tired

October 28th, 2012
6:46 pm

Today was a great win for the Falcons and for Coach Smith (Falcons coach with the most wins). Both the offense and defense played lights out today coming off the bye week. GO FALCONS….and GO BRONCOS tonight. :-)

phil

October 28th, 2012
6:48 pm

LOLOL….

Bradley again overreacts.

Lombardi trophy?

Remember 2010? Ever heard of the Giants? Niners? Bears? Packers?

Let’s get real, folks.

My Shoes are made of Gator!

October 28th, 2012
6:48 pm

Guess I can add eagle feathered socks and gator shoes to my wardrobe!

Moorman

October 28th, 2012
6:50 pm

The falcons finally dominated a team that no question has talent…good job falcons ( i count the denver win as a great win also)..

RM

October 28th, 2012
6:51 pm

Well let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, there’s still a lot of games left. But, that was a real big road win for the Falcons. Reid’s teams have owned them especially in Philly. Way to rise up!!

phil

October 28th, 2012
6:52 pm

And if the Eagles suddenly get hot and get in as the sixth seed and come to the dome?

Don’t laugh….

RM

October 28th, 2012
6:53 pm

Will they start to get any respect from the talking heads now?

(J)ust (S)ome (S)ucka is a Troll

October 28th, 2012
6:54 pm

The team has flaws. Smitty must stop taking his foot off the gas. He must stop letting teams hang around.

Smitty needs to find his inner Martin Kreese (Finish Him!!!) and stop taking the ball out of Matty Ice’s hands with a fourth quarter lead.

Ryan was perfect, but could’ve been more so. It seems, the only person in the NFL who can derail Matt Ryan is Mike Smith, and he does it FAR too often.

What happens if that blocked punt goes backwards, not forwards? All of sudden, it’s a 6-point game instead of a 13-point game, because Smith had to go back to the bad old days and embrace his inner Play Not To Lose-er.

Super Bowls teams do NOT let teams they’ve beaten hang around to snatch a victory away from them.

Super Bowl teams FINISH OFF the teams they’ve beaten.

Mike Smith takes the ball out of his best player’s hands, goes three-and-out, three-and-out, three-and-out, and lets the other team hang around.

Super Bowl-winning coaches DON’T do that.

This is a flaw that will kill this team in the playoffs. Tony Dungy was the same way. He wasted so many of Peyton’s prime years with his play not to lose philosophy.

Smith MUST be better.

phil

October 28th, 2012
6:55 pm

No, RM….

The eagles will be derided as weak now. We will be ignored.

Dallas will shred our porous D next week, most likely.

phil

October 28th, 2012
6:57 pm

I like that 6:54…..

Fire Smith!!!

Eddie in acworth

October 28th, 2012
6:59 pm

Vick talk in this town is officially over. matty ice just bombed philly. Suck it vickophants

@(JSS). Wth do you want? We won 30-17. Yeah we could have scored more, but philly has nfl players too.

Btw we are 7-0.

Rocket20

October 28th, 2012
7:00 pm

Phil —— Dallas will shred our porous D next week, most likely
See what you have to say next Monday when we are 8-0………….

Ivan

October 28th, 2012
7:01 pm

Im still looking for what phil is smoking. Anyone?

MacDaddy Falcon

October 28th, 2012
7:01 pm

Great win, but, we really need to convert in the RED ZONE!! Also, a lot of missed tackles in 2nd half! come to play 4 quarters every game and we will keep winning! RISE UP!!!

Don'tJinxUs!

October 28th, 2012
7:03 pm

Nice article Brad….but don’t jinx us! I’m sure it’s my own bias, but just when you start talking highly of the Bulldogs/Braves/Falcons (forget the GA Tech honeybees), well….they lose…and vice versa.

So, as a favor, find something….anything…wrong with these teams BEFORE the game starts, that should greatly increase our chances for a victory ;-) .

Oh, and GO DAWGS!!!!!!

Don'tJinxUs!

October 28th, 2012
7:06 pm

Ooops, I take that back about your most recent article about the Bulldogs this week (you thought they’d win)…uh….good call on that one!

lol…keep up the entertaining articles

Stinger 2

October 28th, 2012
7:07 pm

@6:54: Sounds like you have a problem with Smitty. Did he refuse to sign his autograph for you or you just looking for something to complain about?

phil

October 28th, 2012
7:07 pm

Don’t get cocky, rocket….

Falcon Fan

October 28th, 2012
7:08 pm

The Falcons looked good today and didn’t need last minute heroics. Ryan looked very good, and the defense was the best I’ve seen from the Falcons.

[...] road win proved that the Atlanta Falcons are a true threat in the NFC.  According to The Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Falcons’ previous three wins all came after fourth-quarter rallies and stats that looked [...]

phil

October 28th, 2012
7:08 pm

Enter your comments here

phil

October 28th, 2012
7:10 pm

This is what Dallas may well do to us next week….

Sigh.

phil

October 28th, 2012
7:11 pm

Or, maybe not.

Dawgify

October 28th, 2012
7:11 pm

Atlanta Falcons are the class of the city.

(J)ust (S)ome (S)ucka is a Troll

October 28th, 2012
7:13 pm

Stinger… no, just pointing out a main flaw: the coach is WAY too conservative in the 4th Quarter. Refuses to go for the jugular. Refuses to finish off teams they’ve beaten.

That’s dangerous. Richt has the same problem.

Sorry. I’d rather be a Saban (be honest even in victory) than a Richt (be happy with horrible wins like that UK win).

3 Rings > NO rings.

Add Smith to the no rings pile, too. His refusal to finish-off teams will come back to haunt the Falcons in January unless he changes.

phil

October 28th, 2012
7:13 pm

Dawgify – that’s saying very little….

phil

October 28th, 2012
7:15 pm

Just some sucka = exactly right

phil

October 28th, 2012
7:17 pm

No rings = falcons forever

yellow

October 28th, 2012
7:29 pm

Well i will like to first congratulate the falcons on thier 7&0 victory. It will be really great if we gain a oppportunity. Falcons keep riseing up despite the hate. Also everyone has their moment to shine so folks lets be happy about our Atlanta team and enjoy watching them play. So go falcons lets get it.

Stinger 2

October 28th, 2012
7:35 pm

JSS: o.k. you and phil have the right to express your opinions just like anyone else.
I respect that and won`t continue to respond. Only time will tell if you are right or wrong about Smitty who is now the winningest Falcon coach.

phil

October 28th, 2012
7:36 pm

The hate….

Lolol

Billyho55

October 28th, 2012
7:39 pm

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. THIS TEAM! RESPECT THIS CITY! WE FEEL EVERY SINGLE SLIGHT YOU BESTOW UPON OUR TEAM AND OUR WONDERFUL CITY! WE HEAR YOU LOUD AND CLEAR! KEEP DOUBTING THESE FALCONS! PLEASE KEEP DOUBTING THESE FALCONS! THIS IS OUR YEAR DAMNIT! OUR YEAR!

RISE UP ATLANTA, MOTHER *^*«^* RISE UP ATLANTA!!!