Let's get this T.O. and Hall thing out of the way before we go to the game. I strongly dislike Owens and everything he stands for (which basically amounts to being a whiny, attention grabbing jackass, albeit one with considerable talent), and I think the spitting was at best reprehensible. Pretty soon Owens is going to knife some dude out on the field, just so the media will continue to write about him. So naturally I'm sick of Owens, and he should--but won't--realize that spitting in someone's face because they're trash talking you is a sign of jerkitude. That being said, it's probably time for DeAngelo Hall to tone it down. I love the guy, I love his fire...but at some point, you're doing way too much trash talking, especally when you're just not doing a good job covering the guy. T.O. shouldn't have spit, no matter the circumstances, and I wish someone would've clocked him over the middle. But Hall needs to slow it down a bit. And that's all I have to say about that.
Now, on to the game. I want to tip my hat to the Cowboys first and foremost; much like the Saints, they simply went out there and beat us. But this was also a winnable game for the Falcons, and Mike Vick quite simply played his heart out. You can call it overcoming coaching, you can call it putting it all together, you can call it pure luck. Regardless of what it was, Vick only made one glaring mistake on the interception that DeMarcus Ware returned for a TD. Other than that, Vick threw 4 TDs, ran for 56 yards, and completed 66% of his passes. He also broke Bobby Douglass' single season QB rushing record, an accomplishment he's gotta be proud of. He couldn't have played much better than that, and I'm pretty proud of what he did. The receivers also looked pretty good all game, especially Roddy White, who surprised the hell out of me with his 100+ receiving yards. Unfortunately, that's basically where my praise stops.
I really thought Norwood would be able to play, and not having him around clearly hurt the running game a bit. Dunn only managed 56 yards on 18 carries, the very definition of mediocre, and so Vick was forced to go to the air early and often. The Cowboys didn't need to fear the run that much, and though they had trouble stopping Vick through the air, having a speedy back to chew up some yardage at random would've been a big plus. The line was a big part of the problem. They looked uncharacteristically shaky, not opening big holes for Dunn and allowing four sacks on the day. Vick and the receivers needed more help, and they sadly didn't get it.
All this might've still worked itself out if not for the defense. The Falcons got slapped with eight penalties for a net gain of 68 yards yesterday, which hurts a bit. You can look purely at the numbers and say that the D-# actually held the Cowboys to less total yardage than the Falcons, but when they really needed to come up with the stop, they couldn't do it. Owens torched Hall & Co. for 2 TDs and Marion "III" Barber trucked over the line for two more. That's four out of the 5 TDs the Cowboys scored, and with the exception of Owens' 51 yard TD in the second quarter, they were all red zone scores. Had even one of those been stopped, the Falcons might've stood a chance. As it was, there were no stops, and the team is now sitting at 7-7 and clinging to their playoff hopes. In some ways, this game is so disappointing because the team played with enough fire and skill to come up with the win against a superior team...but in the end it was just a little too little. After today's game, we'll know how our playoff chances shake out, but one more loss probably means the end of the season and the end of the Jim Mora era in Atlanta. This probably qualified as a must-win, and the defense and the running game didn't show up. What a season.
Oh, and big time congratulations to Morten Andersen, who is now the all-time leading scorer in NFL history. Hopefully next week he picks up the field goal record, too, and then he can finally return to Denmark, which I seem to recall he left in 1600. Good job, Morten.
Game MVP: Vick, even though we lost.
Game Theme Song: Through the Fire and Flames- Dragonforce
One Thing To Take Away: The Falcons are still probably in the playoff race, somehow. It's probably best to hope we can beat Carolina and Philly, two weaker teams.
Next Week: The struggling Panthers, who are going to have to win their next three games to punch their ticket to the playoffs. The Falcons will hopefully be dashing that dream with enthusiasm.
Final Word: A rough loss because it looked to be in reach. The Falcons are proving they have to come back from a deficit, and they're also proving they're not quite good enough to play with the NFC's best. There's still a chance they're going to the playoffs, however.