I still haven't come down off of my huge, pillowy cloud after yesterday's game. If there's something better in football than a completely unexpected win that like, it's only a completely unexpected playoff win. What a great feeling.
So while we're all enjoying this tremendously, I thought I'd take a look at some of the highlights and relatively few lowlights in this game. If you're able to do anything besides cheer and watch replays on TV, join me after the jump:
- Michael Turner clearly was the highlight of this game. As mcboyt noted, Turner is now 48th on the career rushing list for the Falcons with 220 yards. I know we're not exactly the proudest franchise, but that may be one of the saddest things I've ever heard. Turner broke the franchise record by piling up all those pretty yards, and he did it by depending on surprisingly reliable run blocking and bowling dudes over like Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl. He won't even make 100 yards every game this year, but it looks like Turner has the right combination of speed and power to really succeed for the Falcons.
- If the team can protect him and limit him to 20 or fewer throws a game like they did this time, methinks Matty Ice is going to be very successful. Ryan looked poised and confident and showed an excellent arm, particularly on the touchdown toss to Mike Jenkins. I hated it when the Falcons picked him, but the early returns say I'm a big fat dummy. And I'm okay with that.
- Jerious Norwood deserves a mention for operating in Turner's shadow and still almost getting to 100 yards. The fact that one of the league's fastest running backs got only 5 or so touches a game reminds me exactly why I hate Bobby Petrino's guts.
- The defensive veterans in general. John Abraham was after Jon Kitna all day long and got three sacks to show for it, Lawyer Milloy had a momentum changing pick that saved the otherwise suspect Falcons' secondary, and Michael Boley and Erik Coleman were flying all over the field. Their individual performances proved to be greater than the sum of the defense.
- Jason Elam deserves props for nailing a 50 yard field goal, something that would've been unheard of when Falcoholic favorite Morten Andersen still haunted the Georgia Dome. There are good questions about getting a veteran kicker when you're a rebuilding team, but he may make the difference between a win and a loss in at least a couple games this year.
- Mike Smith and Mike Mularkey should be commended for the job they did. Mularkey is mostly known as a meat and potatoes, rush heavy guy, but his gameplan mixed in a few weird trick plays (see the Harry Douglas run) and otherwise just ran the Lions over. Give him credit for sticking to his gameplan and seeing a lot of success. Smith deserves it just for the fact that the Falcons came out so prepared and so ready to kick butt. I feel like yelling all over again, frankly.
- Jenkins and Roddy White get some dap for nice catches, particularly Jenkins on that TD. He's inconsistent as hell, but when he shows up he shows up in style.
- The secondary--particularly Chris Houston--were about as bad as everyone thought they'd be. Brent Grimes acquitted himself well against one of the top pass attacks in the league, but Houston had a couple of bad penalties and ended up burned. This team is just not built to shut down anyone for a full game, and that's going to be a real problem later on when we're not playing the Detroit Lions. Coleman, Grimes and possibly Milloy will have to cover for inexperience and weakness in the cornerbacking corps.
- Adam Jennings clearly has pictures of Mike Smith with some kind of farm animal. That's the only explanation for a guy who stunk in the return game last year, is at the bottom of the receiving depth chart and pulling off an amazing five punt returns for a 3 yard average still having a job with this football team. You cannot convince me that Harry Douglas couldn't do as well or better in the return game and free up a roster spot for, I dunno, anyone else. Pull it together, Jennings!
- Justin Blalock. While the line was pretty good during this game, Blalock continues to have problems with penalties. I still think he's a great guard in the making, but he has to cut down on the mental mistakes in order to get there.
Game MVP: Gotta be Turner, who is officially invited to my place for a beer.
Game Theme Song: Mass Destruction by Faithless (just for the name)
One Thing To Take Away: We are better than anyone thought we were, and I'll be damned if we can't hang in there with the best of them playing like that on offense.
Next Week: The hated Tampa Bay Bucs, who failed to beat the also hated New Orleans Saints this week. I'm looking forward to this one.
Final Word: I highly suggest you enjoy this one as much as you can. Spend the next week soaking in what was clearly one of the better victories the Falcons have had in recent years, and hope that we can keep it going moving forward.