Again, the Falcons made things more difficult than they needed to be. Then the referees joined in the fun by donning Chargers jerseys and enthusiastically blowing their whistles. Then the Falcons continued to make it more difficult than it needed to be.
Here's the thing, though. We still won. Despite all the gaffes, the Falcons continued to win games, a skill they've continued to hone over the course of the season. It's gotten to the point where I'm not even vaguely surprised when they pull off some ridiculous win. It's just what they do.
So enjoy it. Next week, we'll get the New Orleans Saints again and take a shot at guaranteeing a winning season. For now, we're just the 8-4 Falcons, a criminally underrated team that is unimaginably awesome to watch, follow and love.
Join me after the jump for the breakdown.
- Michael Turner looked like a tank out there. He dragged defenders with him and piled up more than 120 cheerful yards on the ground, carrying the load with 31 carries as well. I think there was probably more than one Chargers fan who, deep in his powder blue heart, wishes the team had Turner and not Tomlinson at this point.
- Jonathan Babineaux dotted the i's on his contract this weekend. Though he was credited with 1.5 sacks, I believe he was the main force behind them both and deserves credit for two. If Babs can emerge as a pass-rushing force from the middle of the line, the defense may transform in a way that will make Optimus Prime look stupid.
- There's been plenty of articles written about how awesome Matt Ryan is, but I'm not sure most people grasp the magnitude of his performance this season. He's looked like a rookie maybe three or four times this entire season, and most of them have been at the beginning of the year. Today, he calmly rallied the team, threw a couple of touchdowns and avoided turnovers. As noted more than once in the game thread, can you imagine if he gets better?
- The receiving corps was quality all day. Roddy White still doesn't look 100%--perhaps because he was injured yet again today--but he still hauled in 6 passes for 112 yards. Justin Peelle saw increased playing time today and made us all say "how in tarnation do you spell this guy's name?!" Harry Douglas also got in on the action with a touchdown catch where he was apparently covered by ghosts.
- The offensive line is blocking like a wall on fire. If we make the playoffs, you're going to be able to point to our stalwart linemen as a huge factor. Out of all the evolutions our line has gone through the last few years, this one may have been the most surprising.
- The whole defense--especially the secondary--deserves props for limiting the potent Chargers to a very low yardage total. Nicely done, boyos!
- The referees deserve a huge diss here. I don't care how impressive Mike Carey's mustache is, he and his crew butchered calls throughout this game. Some of the highlights included a questionable fumble call, a questionable call that kept Michael Turner out of the end zone, and Carey shooting John Abraham with a tranquilizer dart. Lovely game for these bozos.
- Harry Douglas coughing up the ball on a return illustrated again that our return game is our greatest weakness. If they can bumble forward for five yards on a punt return without coughing up the ball, I'm pretty thankful at this point.
- The offense continued to be inconsistent despite some very good numbers today. With red zone opportunities, the Falcons must get 7 points consistently. This game would've been all but over an hour earlier if they could've gotten Turner in the end zone or not had Matt Ryan overthrowing Mike Jenkins. I'm very nervous about this habit against the Bucs and Vikings, whose defenses are very strong.
Game MVP: Very tough call here today, so I'll once again turn to you guys. Who is your Game MVP?
Game Theme Song: The 8-4 Song, which I have just now made up. Lyrics will follow.
One Thing To Take Away: We are guaranteed to finish .500 and with a game against the Rams approaching, pretty likely to finish with a winning record. You gotta love it.
Next Week: We're back to playing the Saints, who are ably represented by Canal Street Chronicles. Let's hope we can re-capture the magic (and/or skill) that allowed us to beat them up the last time.
Final Word: Sweet!