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.