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For the last several years, Falcons fans have been patiently waiting for this team to play as well on the field as they look on paper. Despite the talent we know is present on its depth chart, Atlanta has struggled to truly live up to expectations, and their reputation throughout the league has suffered as a result.
But worse than a poor reputation has been the constant playoff failures. When a team struggles to piece together a complete effort once in 16 tries and then falls apart when things matter most, it's hard not to question the true strength of the organization.
Sunday, however, erased those doubts. With the defending Super Bowl Champions marching into the Georgia Dome, the Falcons punched the Giants in the mouth and never let up. There was no third quarter snooze, nor a fourth quarter collapse. What we saw was a genuine, complete effort from Mike Smith's boys. Finally.
With this win, it's now easy to see Atlanta going deep in the playoffs—despite its string of unconvincing victories and poor postseason history. If the Falcons can beat the Giants that badly in one 60 minute effort, they can beat anyone in this league. Period.
Matt Ryan On Top of His Game
After some underwhelming performances in recent weeks, Matt Ryan came out on Sunday and played one of the best games of his professional career. With three touchdown passes and 270 yards in the air, the Falcons QB looked as playoff ready as we've seen him in Atlanta. If this can continue beyond the 16-game regular season, good things around bound to happen this winter.
As Ryan so often does, he gave everyone credit to everyone but himself for Sunday's impressive offensive showing.
"I feel like we have two guys on the outside (Roddy White and Julio Jones) that are as good as anybody in this league," Ryan said. "We have to feel confident any time we get those guys in one-on-one matchups and we talked about it all week being important to negotiate their front four and having time to be able to take advantage of those one-on-one matchups and a lot of credit has to go to our offensive line for getting that done today."
Could Dirk Koetter Replace Andy Reid?
There's been plenty of speculation throughout this season that newly-hired offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter could be targeted by other teams as a head coaching candidate. Given his success with the Falcons in 2012, it wouldn't come as a big surprise if he gets a few phone calls from GMs this spring.
With a plethora of head coaches set to receive the ax in the next few weeks—Andy Reid of the Eagles being one of them—it will be interesting to see where Koetter ranks with other prospective replacements. If Atlanta loses its OC, it would mean bringing in a new offensive system for the third year in a row. While Koetter hasn't reinvented the Falcons' playbook by any means, it would be nice to have a sense of consistency on that side of the ball. Losing him would be, without a doubt, a huge loss.
Joe Hawley Set to Return from Suspension
After one of the offensive line's strongest games of the season, Pat Hill's unit will receive a boost next week with the return of Joe Hawley. The guard will return to action after a four-game suspension for Adderall use, which is banned from the league unless a player receives an exemption.
While Hawley was absent, Peter Konz took a stronghold on the right guard position, and it's hard to imagine Coach Smith will remove the rookie from that spot in lieu of Hawley. Still, it's nice to have that depth to count on.
Former Dirty Bird in Hot Water
Jamal Anderson is back in the news again after getting a little too careless behind the wheel.
The former Falcon pleaded guilty on Monday to reckless driving charges, and now finds himself on probation for the next year. Additionally, he's been charged with a $7,000 fine and will need to take part in community service. Luckily for the former NFC Champion, he faced reduced charges after receiving a DUI last summer.
“I want to thank everyone who has supported me through this difficult time.” Anderson said through his attorney. “”From day one I have maintained my innocence to the DUI charge, and I am glad that charge was dismissed.”
Ahmad Bradshaw Thinks He Could Have Changes the Outcome of Sunday's Game
The Giants weren't at full strength when they travelled to Atlanta this week, as starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw was out with a knee injury. Bradshaw, who's won two Super Bowls with the Giants, thinks he could have changed the course of Sunday's contest if he was able to play.
"It was just a couple of pieces missing, a couple things we couldn't finish," Bradshaw said on Monday. "I just would have liked to have been there. A lot of things would have been different."
With all due respect to the New York running back, it's hard to imagine one player could have altered the result of a 34-0 blowout. Could he have scored five touchdowns? Technically, yes; but realistically, he's being a tad irrational here.