The monkey is gone. Will the lighter weight help the team play better?
Let's be honest. That game was far closer than it had to be and the last minute nature of these wins is taking its toll on my life expectancy. But through all the what-ifs, the Falcons won the most important stat: the final score. The game was ugly in parts and downright brutal in the fourth quarter. But Matty Ice truly earned his nickname and gave us yet another come from behind victory in spectacular fashion. But what did this game tell us about this team and about next week?
Lest we forget, the Seahawks have one of the best defenses in the league. Sherman is the real deal and proved it repeatedly all day. However, we saw something we haven't seen from Ryan and Smitty before - aggressiveness. They repeatedly took shots at Sherman and took them deep. While Sherman made several nice plays, it did not stop the attempts and it eventually paid off with a beautiful bomb to Roddy for one of the TDs of the game.
We put 30 on a stout defense. A defense that is built to stop passing teams. And we did it with the pass and the run. While the offense did seem to stall somewhat in the fourth quarter, that was due more to execution than due to poor play calling or timidness. The run plays were called perfectly, as evidenced by Turner's resurgent day.
And while none of our receivers went over 100 yards, we had quite a few guys get involved - including an under the radar catch by Chase Coffman. Keep an eye on him folks - I think he can be an unexpected factor in the next game.
The first half: brilliance. The second half: meltdown. No doubt, the loss of Abraham hurt badly here, as the Falcons struggled to get to Wilson all day. Nolan will be forced to make scheme adjustments, as you certainly can't expect Abe to be 100% going into the game next week - if he plays at all.
Several old friends reared their heads: poor tackling, mind-boggling coverage failures which allowed Zach Miller to look like an all-pro, and an inability to put any pressure on the passer.
That said - our defense did effectively shutdown the running game of the Seahawks, which is no small feat. Akeem Dent had a very good day, accounting for 9 tackles and being a big factor in shutting down the run.
The trick will be figuring out how to combine our ability to stop the run when needed, with also providing adequate coverage in the mid-range throws. If we can't figure that out, the 49ers will expose it all day long.
It was nice to see Harry Douglas line up at punt returner, but he never actually fielded a punt. But it appears that Franks days returning punts may be at a close (thank the lord). Meanwhile, JaQuizz had a good day returning the ball, and his return at the end of the game was critical in setting up Ryan and company for the game winning drive.
Of note: Bosher looked terrible punting in the fourth quarter and his end of game "squibb" kick looked like a miserable on-side kick attempt. Hopefully, this is an aberration for what has been a very good season for our second year bomber.
It was not a pretty game, but the most important thing is the elimination of the mental "monkey" that surely haunted Ryan and many other players on this team. Now that the pressure has lifted, I believe this team will play as loose as they have all year. What we saw today was very encouraging and could be a great sign of things to come.