The Falcons have triumphed.
At every turn, the Falcons have met a new obstacle. They've been asked to win more than they did last year, and they have. They've been asked to beat a quality team, and instead they beat two. They've been asked to beat a division rival, and they smoked them. They have cleared every hurdle, burned every bridge with the quagmire of last season, and they now look toward the playoffs.
I've quit asking if they can do it. As far as I'm concerned, this team can basically do anything. It's just a question of whether they will or not, and I'm perfectly content to let the rest of the season answer that for me.
Of course, that isn't going to stop me from complaining, praising and forecasting, but it was a nice thought.
Join me after the jump for a recap of a great win.
- The secondary shone yesterday. Despite the number of garbage yards Drew Brees put up, the newly re-configured cornerbacking corps hung tough against the talented Saints passing attack and picked Brees three times. The timely interception from Chris Houston and the truly awe-inspiring pick and return from Chevis Jackson were highlights of the day. If this unit can gel and Domoarigato Foxworthroboto can provide this much of a boost next weekend, we're going to make Jay Cutler's life a living hell.
- Business as usual for Matt Ryan. We have to remember not to take him for granted, because rookie quarterbacks with better than 2:1 TD to interception ratios don't simply come thudding to earth from a mango tree. Ryan played mistake-free football and continues to drop the ball exactly where it needs to go. Big kudos to Matty Snowballs.
- Jerious Norwood had the most electrifying offensive play of the entire game. His catch-and-run put the game more or less officially out of reach and reminded us why he's such an incredible weapon. Norwood will never be our feature back, but I hope the front office makes a strong push to keep him around.
- That John Abraham guy loves him some quarterbacks. In fact, if he could have a big bowl of Kyle-O's for breakfast, a slice of Manning for lunch and a Brees for dinner he'd be the happiest man on earth. That's why I'm begging our merciful deity/mascot Vishnu to have him heal up quickly from his stinger. Bless you, sir.
- Michael Jenkins and Roddy White continue to impress. There's no praise left to heap on Roddy White, who is inching his way into the upper 1% of NFL wide receivers. Jenkins is blossoming into a real #2 option, and suddenly the Falcons look deadly with two real receivers. Oven Mitts is no more!
- A shout out to our linebacking corps, who were 3 of the 4 top tacklers on the team. They're still not coming up with the big plays we were hoping for, but they're usually involved in key stops and Lofton in particular is really coming into his own. A special mention to that 4th top tackler, Erik Coleman, who had another pick today and is serving as the secondary's anchor.
- The Falcons in general for beating the Saints. Man, I love beating up on NFC South teams.
- Short list again today. We'll start with Michael Koenen, who has really slipped under the radar this year with the team doing so well. He's been all over the map in terms of effectiveness, but a 36 yard punt average is only good if you're kicking from 37 yards out. I'd like to see a little more from him. Obviously a relatively minor complaint here, but still.
- Our offense really needs to keep going in the second half. There's a noticeable drop-off on the offensive side the further into the game we go, and that's real trouble when the Falcons aren't already up by several touchdowns. Let's hope we see a full-game trouncing against the Denver Broncos.
- Harry Douglas only averaged 16.5 yards a punt return? How dare he! Where's Adam Jennings when you need him?
Game MVP: I'm going to let the secondary share this one, because Chris Houston, Erik Coleman and Chevis Jackson all deserve it for their picks. Chevis can hold it first for running that sucker all the way back.
Game Theme Song: Nothing But Sunshine by Atmosphere.
One Thing To Take Away: The Falcons can officially beat just about anybody. Let's hope they apply that lesson in every remaining week.
Next Week: The offense rules, but the defense drools. Yup, those are the Broncos. Get the primer on all things Denver at Mile High Report.
Final Word: At 6-3, we've gotten more than we ever had a right to expect. Without expecting anything else, I hope we're this happy when the season ends.