That didn't look anything like a 45-28 victory until the end of the game, when the Falcons detonated with the force of a thousand suns and just blew the Panthers off the face of the earth. Their fourth quarter domination was actually more impressive than a straight blowout, though, if you consider their struggles this season in the second half.
The Falcons took on arguably the best team in the NFC South yesterday. Rather than be intimidated, the team came out and punched the Panthers right in their collective stupid face. When the chips were down and the going got tough and the shack was on fire and the lobsters were out of the pot, Michael Turner and Harry Douglas heaved the team on their backs and bowled over everyone to get into the end zone.
Don't let anyone tell you this Falcons team isn't for real. They've got the heart, the desire and the talent to be a perennial playoff contender. They've also got the coaching philosophy and young icons to make them one the NFC's most enjoyable teams to watch. It all started with a humble butt-kicking of Detroit, and at 7-4 the view looks over a wide plain of work.
All of it looks pretty glorious from up here.
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- Dancin' Harry Douglas did a little bit of everything today. He had his rushing touchdown early in the game, almost scored on a long pass where he was somehow caught from behind, and blazed past everyone on a punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. If you'd like to argue against HD getting the ball more often, you're going to be pretty gosh darn lonely.
- Michael Turner was very good today against a talented defense, but his touchdowns are what turned my frown upside down. I think Turner is actually a touchdown vampire who derives his energy from the end zone. How else to explain the way he drove for four today, single-handedly propelling a quarter of the nation's fantasy football teams into the playoffs? Nosferburner could--and this is completely mindboggling--actually have even more reason to get amped for the game next week against his former Chargers teammates. Insanity.
- Matt Ryan didn't manage to put up a touchdown this week, but he led this team capably as always. Rookie quarterbacks aren't supposed to do anywhere near this well, but Ryan's kung-fu gripping stereotypes this year. That rookie contract still looks huge, but it sure is a relief to have him locked up.
- Speaking of Ryan, I think it's about time I gave the offensive line their due. I still firmly believe that we need some fresh blood, but they've been largely unheralded all year and have protected the rookie superbly. Add in some effective run blocking today and you've got a unit you can be very proud of. I didn't think it was possible, but these guys are making Bobby Petrino look like even more of an idiot than I ever thought he was before.
- I'm gonna go ahead and say that Chauncey Davis should get more playing time. The backup defensive end put Mumbles Delhomme in the turf twice today alongside the always reliable John Abraham's sack which I think might have actually removed one of Delhomme's arms. That's the kind of pressure we've been needing all season long.
- You guys. You've set comment records in each of the last two weeks, and the tone of the discussion has been respectful, sometimes insightful and almost always funny. I'd like to think that somehow, we contribute some bit of positive karma that helps the Falcons achieve victory every week.
Probably just the booze talking, though.
- Roddy White was hurt. He also dropped a bunch of passes today. There's probably a connection here, but the fact that he's dropped six or seven passes over the last two weeks is also a cause for concern. So's the fumble. With HD's breakout game today, let's hope the Falcons ease up on White for the stretch run and get the rook more involved.
- Yes, he's Steve Smith. Yes, he can jump skyscrapers and learn to play the entire works of Bach with a tin whistle. Still, the Falcons didn't put up a lot of fight against the Panther pass attack today. If the offense hadn't come up big, the secondary would be at the top of our bad list. As it was, they collectively did enough to win the game.
- Only 45 points? GEEZ! What's wrong with you guys?
Game MVP: Tough to choose between Turner and Douglas, so I'm going to let you do it. The winner gets a meaningless award on a well-written but mostly incoherent Falcons blog!
Game Theme Song: Eye of the Tiger by Survivor. Because when you want to get pumped up, you need to use the song that got millions going in the 1980's.
One Thing To Take Away: With the exception of a couple of late picks, this draft is looking transformative for the Falcons. Even our free agent signings have turned out wonderfully. I wish it were closer to Christmas so I could call this our present! Too bad there's no other holidays close to this game that talk about being thankful. Oh well.
Next Week: The Falcons square off against Michael Turner's old haunts in San Diego, the Chargers. You can read up on all things powder blue at Bolts From The Blue, SBN's new Chargers blog.
Final Word: Glorious.