The Falcons are bristling with weapons. This season has been an exercise in learning how to use them.
At times, this team seemed unable to put everything together on offense at the same time. Sure, Michael Turner might be running like a train with legs, but Matt Ryan would be eaten alive behind the offensive line. Maybe the Ryan-Roddy White connection was working perfectly, but Turner looked more listless than Steven Hawking with a hangover. With the exception of the Arizona Cardinals blowout earlier this season, the Falcons were a team in search of offensive consistency.
After watching the Bengals game, I truly believe they're turned the corner. Everything was working well today, and the Falcons even managed to protect Ice for nearly the entire game. Progress is progress, and we the fans were treated to plenty of it. With an entire week off to rest and further develop the strategies that actually worked (hey, being aggressive does result in yardage!), the Falcons are in prime position to come out against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers firing missiles that have swords attached to them, which in turn have smaller missiles attached to them.
Sky's the limit, ladies and gentlemen.
Now the defense is a concern. Banged up without Sean Weatherspoon, Dunta Robinson and now Thomas DeCoud, the Falcons let Carson Palmer put up 400 yards through the air. A lot of it came on short passes to Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco and Jordan Shipley, all physical receivers who then turned them into extra yardage. Given the injury situation and the talent the Falcons were facing, I'm not too concerned about this one, but this is back-to-back weeks the Falcons have been BVG'ed (Burned, Vaporized and Gutted) by an opposing offense. Time to tweak some things.
The bye week is coming at a good time. The Falcons can bask in the glow of a quality win, enjoy that nice 5-2 record, get healthy and then wreak unholy havoc on the NFL. I, for one, welcome our new NFC South overlords.
After the jump, we have highlights, lowlights and more.
- You know the old saw about not being able to stop players, and only being able to hope to contain them. You can't even contain Roddy White. If Roddy White were leftover Chinese food and you put him in a Tupperware container before heading to bed, you'd wake up in the morning with the fridge open, shredded plastic everywhere and lo mein hanging from your cabinets.
Look at his ridiculous numbers. Over 200 yards, two touchdowns and a two point conversion, plus carton-style crisping of one of the better cornerbacks in the league, Leon Hall. White is preposterously good at the game of football, and if we had to suffer two years of him being a drop machine to make this happen, I regret nothing. Given his response to Chad Ochocinco's lame trash talk, I think it might be wise to rile up Roddy on a weekly basis. I'm turning to Coy Wire on this one.
- Matt Ryan was excellent. With the offensive line affording him the kind of protection he's been lacking in recent weeks, Ice made great throws time and time again, with only a single interception and a smattering of bad passes. When he has a little time, Ryan proved he can do great things, and his quick return to the game after being cracked in half only added to his burgeoning legend.
I also find it hilarious that even though Roddy White and Matt Ryan have the kind of chemistry that makes Marie Curie blush, and even though Ryan is basically waving a neon sign that says "HEY, CHUCKLEHEADS, I'M THROWING TO #84," they manage to connect close to ten times a game. That is ridiculously awesome.
- I like to imagine that Michael Turner read my post in which I called for him to share more carries with Jason Snelling, blew steam out of his ears and decided to show me just how big of an asshole I really am. To which I would say: Hey, fair enough.
Turner bludgeoned, slashed, trucked, helicoptered, submarined and defenestrated countless Bengals today. It was like a horrific PBS special on poaching endangered animals. I'm not ready to declare Turner returned to form, but he's certainly well on his way.
- Bionic Brian Finneran has a remarkable knack for showing up long after you think he's become a non-factor. It was a nice touchdown catch for Finn, the only remarkable moment in a ho-hum day for anybody not named Roddy White. Both of Tony Gonzalez's catches were nice, though.
- Man, you don't want to get in John Abraham's way. Honest Abe emancipated Carson Palmer from his feet twice yesterday, making six on the season. He's still got it.
- Curtis Lofton is so badass, he forced two fumbles Sunday...and he didn't even touch the guy on one of them. Great hustle.
- Brent Grimes had an amazing play. Called back by penalty or not, his touchdown deserves to be recognized.
- Did Brian Williams have a sack? Why yes, he did.
- I think we can stop killing Mike Mularkey for one week. Yes, he made a couple of dumb calls in this game, but that's true of every game ever. He called for an intelligent, aggressive attack all day long, leaning heavily on his best weapons, and it worked perfectly. Hopefully he took notes.
- Matt Bryant continues to be cash money. Nailed a 45 yard field goal today, and it would've been a very different game without that.
- I thought the Bengals were due to break out. I knew that a team down by 21 points coming out of the half would be throwing. It was going to be virtually impossible to stop them entirely.
Still, 29 points in the second half? The Bengals managed some huge plays and the secondary got eaten alive. The fact that Chris Owens led the team with 12 tackles and Erik Coleman (9), Brian Williams (9) and Grimey (5) were all in the vicinity should tell the story. The Falcons were playing catch-up all day, and they can't afford to continue to let passing attacks shred them like this. The return of Dunta Robinson after the bye should help, but Brian Van Gorder needs to go back to the drawing board a little bit.
Additional pressure wouldn't hurt, either.
- The Falcons came out extremely flat in the second half. Thankfully they recovered, but there needs to be a little more urgency when this team is playing with a lead.
- I'm too happy to mention other lowlights. The Falcons will get to work.
Game MVP: Roddy White. If you saw a better football player on the field Sunday, please tell me who it was.
Game Theme Song: Hell yeah.
One Thing To Take Away: The Falcons are capable of hanging a lot of points on any defense in the NFL. Except maybe the Steelers.
Next Week: The bye week! Man, I'm not sure I can deal with another week without football. We'll keep you immersed in content, folks.
Final Word: Boom.