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Falcons vs. Raiders Recap: Complete And Utter Dominance

We've seen the Falcons do some pretty impressive things this season. We just hadn't seen them shut out a team and beat them so badly that the tears rolled freely from under their silver-and-black helmets. Until yesterday, that is.

The Falcons clearly drew a line between themselves and the league's weakest teams, a group they belonged to as recently as last season. For a look at the delightful carnage, join me after the jump.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • I feel like I have to give props to John Abraham for putting the fear of several deities into JaMarcus Russell. The insane sack machine now has 10 for the season, and he also managed to get Russell to cough up the ball after a particularly jarring hit. There's nobody on this defense who has authored more big plays this year, and Abraham's finally earning back his paycheck after earning the injury prone tag.
  • What can I say about Matt Ryan that I haven't said a million times already? He's got a better arm than advertised, makes better decisions than advertised and plays with the poise of a veteran in a concrete bubble. He could sprout wings and breathe fire all over the field next week and I wouldn't even bat an eye. Against the Raiders, he found every possible target--even Ovie Mughelli!--and exploited matchups for big gains. The kid is an incredible talent.
  • Michael Turner continued to play the role of the mustached fifth grader at recess, beating up on inferior competition to the tune of well over 100 yards. Turner still needs to break out against a great run defense, but he ground the turf beneath him and carried the Falcons to victory on his wide back. Terrific game for the Burner.

    Jerious Norwood also deserves a shout-out for scoring the team's lone rushing touchdown and making the most of his increased opportunities. Even Jason Snelling got in on the action with 8 carries for 47 yards, and the team has ridiculously talented trio of running backs when they need them.
  • Not that it's the hardest thing in the world to do, but Erik Coleman had a nice pick off Russell and is proving to be a much better bet at free safety than the collection of dubs we have been playing there. He'll likely have to anchor the secondary next year, as I doubt Lawyer Milloy is coming back.
  • Michael Jenkins caught only two passes today. It just so happened that they were both TDs, and Jenkins--alongside Roddy White--is shaking the reputation he had for drops and running poor routes. Both times he was exactly where he needed to be and just looked up for the pass. Give White props for doing well against one of the league's toughest cornerbacks, as well.
  • The defense in general knew they were playing against a shaky offense and stuck fast against them. It's a testament to them that the Falcons could've scored a field goal and still pulled this one out, and despite the fact that it was the Raiders, I can't help but feel optimistic about where the D is headed.
  • The coaching staff did everything I wanted them to do today. They were incredibly aggressive (arguably too much so), preyed on the Raiders' weaknesses and even benched Adam Jennings. If any of you are reading this, thank you for sitting Jennings. Bless you, even.

LOWLIGHTS

  • As noted during our open thread, this was a tough game to pick low points for. Since there's only enough to put into one point, I'm just going to go for it.

    The offense could have put up more points and looked a bit lethargic through much of the second half, but of course in this game it hardly mattered. Jason Elam missed a field goal, which was discouraging but not particularly loathsome. Finally, the offensive line let a putrid Raiders front seven hit Ryan a couple times too many, which isn't good for his long-term health. If we have one thing to worry about this season, it's keeping our cornerstones healthy. If they have to, the coaching staff should attack Ryan with bubble wrap.

THE WRAPUP

Game MVP: I guess it's gotta go to Michael Turner, whose mastery of the field, the clock and the entire Raiders organization was a joy to watch. Matt Ryan comes in a close second, of course.

Game Theme Song: Just the sound of cheering will do, thanks.

One Thing To Take Away: The Falcons are a good team. Playoffs or no, we've taken a giant leap forward. Remember when we only won four games last year? Seems like forever ago now, doesn't it?

Next Week: Next week we're at home against the hated Saints, so stay tuned for a lot of trash talk between myself and Canal Street Chronicles.

Final Word: At 5-3, the Falcons are in the thick of the playoff hunt with an excellent rookie QB, a potent rushing attack, a decent defense and one of the league's best wide receivers. This is truly a great time to be alive!