Falcons:34 Rams:17

Falcons crush the St. Louis Rams

Considered our second “trap game” of the season the Falcons held together and pulled out another win on the road against a surprisingly tough Rams team. With a mixture of a tough run game, quick passing attack, and a bend, but don’t break defense the Falcons played a good game, but have a lot to learn going in a game against one of the better NFC teams next week. Let’s jump into the analysis of how the Falcons can improve their game.

Passing: Matt Ryan had  a great game against another young quarterback that is already drawing comparisons to him. Ryan threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns and was nearly flawless the entire game. Roddy White continued to have another dominant game, but it was other receivers like Michael Jenkins and Brian Finneran who made some spectacular catches and really made a name for themselves in our offense. Justin Peele made an immediate contribution to our offense, after missing a couple weeks due to injury, making a nice 3rd down catch and a touchdown catch on a great play action. There is a lot of debate on whether Matt Ryan is becoming a elite quarterback and for the last three weeks he has only helped his argument.

Running: Michael Turner did not have as good of a game as the numbers show, but he did seal the win for us in the fourth quarter with a nice 39 yard touchdown run. Turner finished the day with 131 yards and a touchdown on 28 attempts, but it would be nice to see a good 4-5 yard average without it being skewed by a long run against a drained defense in the fourth quarter. I like how we are using Jason Snelling in the passing game, but he is a great runner and I think both the fans and I would like to see more than one run for Mr. Snelling in a game. We finally had some unique formations this game and as far as I saw they all seemed to pay off with either a long run or a great completion on a play action. Hopefully we see some more of this creativity out of our offense in later half of our season.

Offensive line: One of the best games I have seen out of our offensive lines. We had holes opening up in the run game, plenty of time in the pocket for Matt Ryan, and that grizzly, play-til-the-whistle attitude that the Falcon’s offensive line has been known for. Sam Baker and the line allowed for no sacks against a defensive line that led the NFL in sacks and I don’t think Matt Ryan had to throw the ball away the entire game. Ryan was sitting pretty in the pocket and was able to have a great game and he should be thanking his offensive line this week for allowing him to do so.

Rush Defense: With a game without John Abraham our Defensive line had to step up and have a big game. Steven Jackson is a well known bull dozer when it comes to the run game and the D-Line held him to 50 yards, which is an accomplishment in my books. Having Chauncey Davis and Jamaal Anderson pinning the left and right side of our defense allowed for very little yards on the outside and with a young, but talented interior line and hard-nosed Curtis Lofton leading the middle their was almost no hope for the St. Louis Rams to open up their run game like they planned. However…

Pass Rush: There was little to no pass rush for the majority of the game. It was obvious that the Falcons needed number 55 in this area as we had no sacks the entire game. Sam Bradford was unrattled and poised in the pocket as he threw for almost 250 yards on our defense. There was little to no blitzes on a young quarterback still trying to understand a NFL caliber defense and it was a little embarrassing that he had such a good game against us.

Pass Coverage: This area area was a little hard to decipher as I thought that we had a pretty good game in the coverage department, but the Rams were still able to make a lot of deep throws on us with a couple of touchdowns. However, the Falcons were able to rise up when they needed to, which is to say, third downs and the Falcons didn’t allow the Rams to convert any third downs until the final minutes of the fourth quarter. We were also able to finish off the game with a great interception by William Moore on a third down in the red zone to help seal the game. There were a lot of well defended passes that were able to be somehow completed against us. I don’t know if was from well-placed passes or bad coverage, but our defenders seemed to be there for the tackles when the passes were somehow completed so it is hard to complain too much. One thing that I did notice was the amount of passes that were completed to receivers covered by Mike Peterson and was then seen to be almost replaced in the second half by rookie Sean Weatherspoon who was back after a long stay in the training room from a knee injury.

Special Teams: Almost a perfect game for special teams had it not been for a long punt return by the Rams. Matt Bryant was perfect on all of his field goals, Eric Weems had a 50 kick return and a couple of “almost kickoff returns for touchdowns.” Also our coverage on kickoffs was amazing holding the Rams to below the 20 for almost all the kickoffs.

A great game by the Falcons and another win to make us 8-2. One more win for our 3rd consecutive winning season, but we are looking far beyond that this season. I’m hoping for playoff and home field advantage for all of those games. Hopefully some hardware and rings will be in order in February. Green Bay Packers in Atlanta next Sunday. See y’all there.

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Falcons win thriller 26-21

Wow the Falcons have had some of the most amazing finishes this season and Thursday’s game was no exception. Big plays from both our offense and the defense, but the Ravens showed us why they were considered one of the best teams in the AFC. The Ravens played us tough the entire game, but we emerged the winners and now hold  a 7-2 record and remain on top of the NFC South.

What an incredible night for the offense against one of the best defenses in the NFL. Matt Ryan was unstoppable and once again earned his “Matty Ice” nickname. He threw for over 300 yards, completing 64% of passes and three touchdowns. Ryan was constantly being harassed by the Ravens defensive line, but maintained his composure throughout the game and had one of the best games of his career. The last touchdown in the final minute will remain in my memory to constantly remind me how lucky Falcon fans are to have this quarterback from Boston College.

One of the largest reasons Matt Ryan had the game that he did was because of #84, Roddy White. He was playing status was questionable for this week with a knee injury, but I think the only real question is whether Roddy White is inhuman or superhuman. He hauled in 12 receptions for 138 yards and two touchdowns, one of them being the game-winning touchdown. White did have some drops in this game, but after every drop he made another amazing catch, so it’s hard to complain too much. It is easy to say the game MVP is the Ryan/White pass connection because you can’t say that only one of these players had the game that they did without the other.

Michael Turner. Where was he? Luckily we had Jason Snelling in a game that was dominated by the passing game. Snelling only had 3 carries for minimal yards, but he was able to make 6 catches for 56 yards with a touchdown. A lot of analysts like to point out that Matt Ryan rarely has a good game when Michael Turner can’t get the running game going, but this is a great example where this wasn’t true at all.  Hopefully the Turner/Snelling combo can get it going again next week.

Good, but quiet games by Michael Jenkins and Tony Gonzalez making some crucial 3rd down catches. Also compliments to the offensive line for keeping Matt Ryan up most of the game. I know that they couldn’t give him a lot of time in this game, but they held off numerous Raven’s blitzes allowing Matt Ryan to make a play. Sam Baker allowed the only two sacks of the game, but aside from those two mistakes he had a decent game and has been improving since the beginning of the season.

Now the defense was a little more up and down this game, but I couldn’t have asked more from this young group of men. We held Ray Rice to under 60 yards and if we had better composure on some reverses we would have shut down the Raven’s run game all together. Joe Flacco didn’t throw all over us like Dree Brees has done to us in the past, but he still managed to have an efficient game. However, I have never seen our pass rush be so much of a hassle to an opposing quarterback. John Abraham had a ridiculous game with two sacks and our interior linemen were a massive force causing Flacco to constantly throw the ball away or just run for life.

It was good to have Dunta Robinson back, but you would never had known he was on the field because his name was only mentioned on one tackle. For a linebacker this is not a good thing, but for a defensive back it means that the quarterback was not throwing the ball his way. So even thought Robinson isn’t piling up the interceptions and tackles, I prefer that the quarterback not even have the option of throwing it to the left side of the field. Brent Grimes did not have as good of a game with all three of Flacco’s touchdowns going to the man he was covering, but he did make up for it with a great pick that ended up getting us a touchdown.

Matt Bryant continues to impress me. Making both of his field goals with one being from 51 yards. Also congrats to the coverage teams for not allowing any big plays on special teams.

All I know is that I am glad that this game is over and that we came out with a win. We have road game against a surprisingly tough Rams team and then its back at home. We have a longer week to rest up, so hopefully the injury report will be shorter than it has been in the past. Go Falcons!

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Falcons: 27 Bucs: 21

Gonzalez had another big day for the Falcons

With the position of being the best team in the NFC South at stake the Falcons went out this Sunday and played some great football. There were times when our defense and offense forgot where they were, but aside from a few bad plays the team played very well overall.

Matt Ryan and the offense had another great day between the lines and a lot of it had to do with Michael Turner and the run game. Turner gained 107 yards on 24 carries and was able to pound it in for 2 touchdowns. I would have liked to see more carries from Snelling, but Turner was getting the job down and Snelling was making himself available in a number of ways on 3rd down. Aside from a couple of “almost interceptions,” Matt Ryan did almost everything that could have been asked of him. He threw for more than 200 yards and a nice first career touchdown to Michael Palmer. Tony Gonzalez played a big game in the receiving game when Roddy White went out a for awhile with a knee injury. The offensive line also played a great game allowing no sacks even though Tampa hasn’t been known to apply a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. It was good to have Ovie Mughelli back because as he added some needed blocking skills to the team and made a really nice block on one of Turner’s touchdowns. Though the Falcon’s offense became anemic during the 3rd quarter they managed to get enough points on the board to win the game.

Like a lot of Sundays the Falcon’s defense played very well despite allowing big plays in the passing game because they were able to force turnovers in the game. Kroy Biermann was able to apply enough pressure on Tampa’s quarterback Josh Freeman, so that he threw up a wild pass that was intercepted by Jonathan Babineaux. Brent Grimes also added another interception to the game after allowing a big completion to Mike Williams. Dunta seemed a bit shaky after coming back from his time off with the concussion, but it was nice to have his veteran presence on the field. Stephen Nichols played another great game filling in for injured Sean Weatherspoon, and Mike Peterson added the only sack of the game. Great job by the linebackers and the defensive line only allowing minimal rushing yards in the game. Also major props to Thomas DeCoud for making that key tackle on the 4th and goal in the 4th quarter. Great job by the defense against a promising Bucs offense.

This game was a little distorted due to some poor play of the Falcon’s special team coverages, but those are problems the Falcons can work on. We have a short week ahead of us, but at least we are staying at home as we host the Ravens for NFL Networks first Thursday night game of the season.

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Midseason Awards

Since it is the Falcons bye week and also happens to be the middle of the season I figured I would go ahead and give out some Midseason Awards.

MVP: Roddy White

You couldn’t ask Roddy White to do anymore for our team. 54 receptions and 747 yards in 7 games. He leads the league in receptions and targets, 2nd most receiving yards, and hasn’t dropped a pass yet. He also showed that hustle play in the San Francisco when he ran back down the field and stripped the ball after Matt Ryan threw an interception and essentially won us the game.

Defensive MVP: Curtis Lofton

Lofton wanted to make bigger plays this year and so far he has. Along with his team high 54 tackles, he has 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and an  interception. Those are the type of plays that you want out of your middle linebacker. This is also the year that I feel that Lofton has taken over as the leader of the defense.

Comeback Player: John Abraham

With only 5 sacks last year most people wrote off Abraham as being too old to stay competitive in the NFL. Through half the games he already has 6 and has been a constant nuisance to opposing quarterbacks. I will be greatly disappointed if Abraham doesn’t break double digits this year.

Newcomer Award: William Moore

I could have gone with our big free agency signing Dunta Robinson or first round pick Sean Weatherspoon, but the newcomer that has brought the most to the team has been 2nd year safety William Moore. Moore who missed practically all of last year with nagging injuries and only played on special teams in two games, but this year he leads the team with 3 interceptions, 6 pass deflections, and a forced fumble. Hope his progression continues.

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Falcons:39 Bengals:32

Roddy single-handedly won us the game

Shootout. The best word to describe Sunday’s game and though our defense seemed non-existent at times it was exciting to see our offense in full force. Roddy, Matt, and Michael all had huge games when we needed them the most and Falcons pulled out another win heading into our bye week at 5-2.

Offense

Matt Ryan had a great game staying calm in the pocket, converting key 3rd downs, and showing efficiency in the Red Zone. Matt Ryan finished the game with just under 300 yards and three TD’s. He did have an unfortunate interception that was a tad under thrown, but was mostly just a great play on the ball by the Bengal’s Leon Hall. Ryan got shaken up on a play, but was able to come back in the next play. Let’s hope that Matt Ryan takes full use of our bye week to let the bumps and bruises heal.

Good to see Michael Turner back after a slow start to the season. Turner was running full steam ahead and no Bengal’s defenders were willing to bring him down. Turner broke a couple big and ended up with 121 yards and punched it into the endzone twice.

For the receiving core there is only one name that needs to be mentioned and it’s Mr. Roddy White. White had 201 receiving yards, two TD’s, and a ridiculous two-point conversion catch. White also had two other one handed catches that will surely make the highlight reel tomorrow and provided more evidence to support Roddy’s case for MVP. Even though White had a fumble that was returned for TD and shifted the momentum to the Bengals he showed maturity and poise and was able to make a couple of key catches on the next drive including an 11 yard touchdown

Offensive line. Well I can finally say it. Good job. They gave Matt Ryan plenty of time in the pocket, opened up holes for the run game, and for the first time this year didn’t give up a sack. Not going to say anything bad about y’all this week, so congrats.

Defense

Not a great job overall, but there were some good individual performances.

John Abraham had  2 sack performance and was constantly adding pressure through out the game. Curtis Lofton has 7 tackles and statistically had two forced fumbles. However, one of those fumbles was really just a dropped ball after Cedric Benson juked a little too much and another wasn’t recorded even though it looked like an obvious fumble on the replays. Brent Grimes also had  a strong performance shutting down the receivers he was assigned to and made some great tackles.

BUT… Chris Owens did not have a great game. Grimes’s counterpart in the pass defense could not hold his own with Dunta Robinson out with a concussion. It seemed like Carson Palmer was picking on Owens the entire game and it seemed like Owens struggled to bring to the ball carrier on all 10 of his tackles and recorded no pass deflections or interceptions. It might be that Owens is more suited for the nickelback in our pass coverage. Another hot issue with me was the defensive play calling. Our blitz packages were all laughed at with no sacks, screen passes that soared over our defenders’ heads, and long passes to Jordan Shipley. VanGorder needs to figure out what the problem is and fix it.

Well we are now into a much needed bye week and the Falcons need that time to recover from injury. Robinson, Weatherspoon, Mughelli, and DeCoud will hopefully be back when we host the Tampa Bay Bucs at the Georgia Dome. See you then.

 

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Eagles: 31 Falcons: 17

Matt Ryan and the Falcons did not have a good day

This game was more than a loss for the Falcons. This game was against a NFC team that had a similar record to ours and this was essentially the game to determine the best team in the NFC. We could not pull out the win in the Eagles’s stadium and the Falcons are now 4-2. There were a lot of good things to say about out effort in this game, but the negatives greatly out shadow any of the highlights.

Highlights:

  • William Moore getting his 3rd interception on the year by a tipped pass from Curtis Lofton
  • Michael Jenkins coming back from injury and racking up 99 yards
  • Peria Jerry getting the lone sack of the day and first on the season for him
  • Curtis Lofton racking up 11 tackles and the previously mentioned tipped pass that was intercepted
  • Matt Ryan doing all he could while the Eagles’s defense ran all over our offensive line
  • Defensive line against the run.

Lowlights:

  • Pass coverage. We could not stop them all day and I realize Dunta Robinson and Sean Weatherspoon were out, but so was Desean Jackson
  • Our Pass rush. We could not get any pressure on Kevin Kolb even against the patchwork offensive line that the Eagles had put together
  • Michael Turner run the ball!
  • Offensive line was not a cohesive unit and I’m going to continue to point my finger at Sam Baker
  • Matt Ryan was a little inaccurate, but I’ll consider the poor play of the offensive line
  • Dunta Robinson getting a concussion, but it was a legal hit.
  • The entire coaching staff. The team looked unprepared to play the entire game, did not seem motivated after the half, and Andy Reid outsmarted us on multiple plays

It was not a pretty game, but I still have hope for the season and I look forward to the long stretch of home games and our bye week to gain a bit of time to relax. Here come the Bengals.

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Falcons win 20-10

Roddy White continues to lead the Falcons receivers

Another close game until the last quarter, but the Falcons pulled off another game with some great defense and a couple big plays from the offense. It wasn’t a great win, but the Falcons have showed some real poise in the 4th quarter to pull out the win. There are definitely some questions that still need to be answered about the Falcons, but as long as we are tallying marks in the win column then I have nothing to complain about. However, lets jump into details of the Cleveland game and figure what needs improving

The offense continues to struggle with starting up early in the game and providing the consistency that us fans expect. Matt Ryan started off real slow going 1 for 8 in the first quarter and seemed to struggle in the pocket when their was added pressure from blitzes. Another problem seemed to be with the receivers getting open against a weak Cleveland secondary. Roddy White still managed another good game with 5 catches for 101 yards and a TD, but the other receivers need to step it up if the Falcons want to improve their pass coverage. Michael Turner had a big game rushing for over 140 yards, but most of those yards game in the last quarter after the Cleveland defense seemed to get worn down. The Offensive line play is a record stuck on the same track with strong  play in the middle, but Sam Baker allowed another sack and the line wasn’t playing well together to consistently open up running lanes.

The defense played another great game forcing 3 turnovers, 2 sacks, and holding a good Cleveland run game to under 50 yards. I am becoming more and more impressed with our defense with good play from our linebackers, improved play from the secondary, and surprising play from our defensive line. John Abraham showed that he hasn’t lost a step despite being criticized for showing his age in recent years. Kroy Biermann had an amazing interception for a touchdown and continued to apply pressure to QB’s Wallace and Delhomme. Dunta Robinson has only played ok for being payed so much this offense, but Brent Grimes has made up for that with spectacular plays and good tackling. Props to Nicholas for his interception when Weatherspoon went down with a knee injury.

It’s going to be an interesting game next week when we visit the Eagles in Philly, but I’m confident that we have what it takes to pull out another win.

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