I've said it multiple times since last night, but Monday's game was both the best and the worst game that I think I've ever watched. The officiating, at times, was awful. They reversed multiple calls, however they did get the call correct the majority of the time in spite of the reversals. For that, I have to give them credit and that is why we have instant replay.
Trent Dilfer, God bless him, made an excellent point in the post-game show. Not only did he sound off against how dangerous these replacement officials are making the game, but he sounded very passionate about it. Truth be told, he sounded like he wanted to kick some tail to make a change.
Let's face it, folks. The reality of the situation is that these are D-III officials. They're all wonderful stories, including the 8th grade teacher, who has done a good job in the two games I've watched him officiate. Some of them are pretty good. Others....not so much. D-III football has been described by some as "glorified high school football" with only the rarest of talents making it to the NFL and usually by coming out of perennial powers such as Mount Union (Pierre Garcon, Cecil Shorts).
People can sit in their La-Z-Boy recliner and armchair officiate all they want. The reality of it is that it's simply not easy. Players all move incredibly fast, and plays happen in mere instants. It's much easier when the players are slower and the game itself is slower.
I liken this to watching tennis. No amount of tennis watching can prepare you for a 135 mph serve coming right at your face. 135 mph is 198 feet per second. A tennis court is roughly 78 feet long, so in four-tenths of a second, the ball is on you. You know what else happens in four-tenths of a second?
Blinking. And that's if you look the fool by blinking rather quickly. You blink one time and the tennis ball is past you. Now think about how many moving parts are in a single play of football. The group of refs have to be able to watch most of those moving parts all at the same time. This isn't easy.
To add to the trouble, college and professional football have different sets of rules. Why is that? Why add to the confusion when switching levels of football. Case in point, the defensive holding call where the Broncos received 10 yards rather than 5. The collegiate rule is 10 yards. While it's not acceptable, it is an understandable mistake. These men just came from college football and have been refereeing college football for most of their careers. To add in another wrench, former longtime referee Gerry Austin explained that defensive holding doesn't give an automatic first down if the play ends up being a running play.
There are probably nitpick, silly changes to the rules for just about every single penalty out there, and remembering them all - especially after learning it differently for 20+ years, is hard to keep track of.
There's my rant for the afternoon. After the jump, we'll break it down, individual style!
- My God, the defense. That was the best defense I've ever seen the Falcons play (as a whole). There were some lapses, but Peyton isn't one of the greatest QBs of all time for nothing. Had we not forced so many turnovers, the game might've been different. The thing to take away from that game is just how much we disguised everything.
- Kroy Biermann won't get much credit, but he was perhaps the most important part of the fast start. He played as a stand-up end part of the time and he was constantly moving all over the place on the defensive line. When he would move over, the whole line would shift, throwing off the offensive line's assignments.
- Stephen Nicholas might be better than Spoon. That's saying something, because Spoon is good. Nicks had another awesome game, as did Spoon. I don't think Akeem Dent even played a snap on defense, not that he needed to.
- Speaking of Dent, how about the Falcons' willingness to change personnel based on the opponent? Dent didn't play at all (run stuffer) and Sidbury was in the lineup tonight as a pass rushing specialist. Not only are we making halftime adjustments (which worked to a degree on offense, defense was just out of gas) we're making notable weekly adjustments. That's what great teams do, and we're doing them.
- The offensive line played very well. "VonDoom", as they're called, were largely quiet for most of the night. I think Matty was sacked only one time. He was hit a few times, yes, but that comes with the territory.
- Roddy White is still our go-to guy. Julio's a wonderful player, but he hasn't quite hit "go-to" status, yet. Dare I say Roddy saved the game on offense.
- Ball control was excellent for the offense. +4 in the turnover department is good news no matter how you look at it.
- I wanted to expand on this a little bit more, but I got sidetracked. Does anyone think Matt Ryan isn't an elite QB anymore? Prime time game, he completes 67% of his passes. Manages the game really well, runs the no-huddle really well, and tosses a couple TDs on two excellent play calls. He was pressured at times and still delivered very accurate throws. That weight gain in the offseason has made him much more confident back there.
- The drops. There were a lot of uncharacteristic drops by Julio and Gonzo. Supposedly, Julio was having an issue with one of his hands during the game. Gonzo, well, I don't know what was going on with him. He made up for it later in the game.
- The running game was just awful. Part of that is offensive line, and part of it is Michael Turner. More on Turner in a sec. The Denver front 7 played like they were focused on making Matt Ryan beat them through the air (which he did).
- The pass rush just was not getting there at times, but overall they did enough for me. Denver's OL is pretty good.
- The penalties. Some of them were a little nitpicky, but they were all legitimate penalties. Gotta tighten up on those, guys.
- Matt Bosher. He's had better days, but his punting was adequate for the situations. Kickoffs were very good, however.
- Michael Turner. What in the heck were you doing out at 5 am after a late night game? Shouldn't you be in bed and recovering? And furthermore, how hard is it to find a ride home? (Okay look, if I owned an Audi R8, I'd probably drive it 100 in a 55, also, BUT I DIGRESS, and it certainly wouldn't be while I was drunk.) I'm all for celebrating. You have been a very important player to this team since 2008, but you can't make stupid decisions like this, Turner. You just can't do it.
- I hate to say it, but Turner could very well be done here. Or at least, done for a little while. Plus, this looks like a case of "I'm an athlete for an Atlanta team and I'm on the downside of my career so I'm gonna go get wasted and speed like a fool and get in trouble." You have successfully joined the club with only ONE OTHER MEMBER IN IT.
- Derek Lowe.
- Derek. Freaking. Lowe.
- Do you want to be like Derek Lowe, Mike? No? Well, too late. Except I think Lowe wasn't illegally drunk at the time. Regardless, my point stands.