There's a phenomenon preculiar to the frozen north that I think is particularly relevant here.
Here in New England, the first day of snowfall is an auspicious occasion. People like me smile and enjoy the snow, while people not like me totally friggin' forget how to drive. The mere sight of a snowflake causes these drivers to start driving with their feet, screaming at the roofs of their cars and careening wildly across the road. It's as if people who have lived in this region their entire lives cannot adjust to an obvious change in their environment, and as such a frighteningly high percentage of them end up off the road.
Yesterday, the Saints were the snow and the Falcons were confused drivers. Coming into the week, it seemed as though the rolling Falcons should've been able to just pass by. Then the Saints rolled out a competent running game and the Falcons were trying desperately to flag down someone who could help them.
This analogy probably makes more sense if you're drinking heavily. Either way, join me after the jump.
- Matt Ryan was statistically pretty great. He ran in a TD, threw for another, topped 300 yards through the air and completed 24 out of 33 passes. Even though I'm going to knock him a few short bullet points away, I have to admit that I'm still incredibly impressed with everything he's done this year. Aside from Eddie Royal of the Broncos, I can't see another rookie who has a realistic shot at beating out Ryan for rookie of the year.
- I think Roddy White might be back to 100%. Nothing says "I've recovered!" like dropping a 10 catch, 164 yard performance against a divisional rival. Well done, young Roderick.
- Michael Koenen had a hell of a game punting today. His 47.5 yards per punt was sick, and if he could approach that on a weekly basis he'd be a Pro Bowl level punter. If's a big two letter word, though.
- Jason Elam was reliable. Harry Douglas looks pretty good. Nobody was horribly injured. There's the rest of your positives.
- Whether or not Michael Turner's hand was bothering him, as some wags have reported, his lack of awesomeness in the red zone was not cool. Nor was his barely over 3 yards per carry rushing average. Turner's been unbelievable this year and it's not fair to ask for perfection weekly, but take away his early 26 yard run and you've got a very mediocre game indeed.
- Ryan's pick and the ball he threw out of the back of the end zone were examples of the Ryan we're occasionally going to see over the next (one hopes!) decade or so. He's not always going to make a great decision, and when he makes a bad decision he compounds it by throwing the ball like he's thought twice about it. You know, the dart replaced by a badminton shuttlecock. Considering the way the game went after that pick, you can call it a critical mistake.
- Where in the name of Jessie Tuggle was the defense today? There was virtually no pressure on Brees, no consistent efforts by our secondary and a front seven that only stopped the Saints' running game if you consider stopping to be a season high in rushing yards. A poor defensive effort that I really think stemmed from a belief that the Saints were not going to run the ball.
Game MVP: I guess you'd have to give it to Roddy White because he did a quality job and didn't make any soul-crushing mistakes. That's just the way it is sometimes.
Game Theme Song: Everybody Hurts by R.E.M.
One Thing To Take Away: Infalliability is not a word you can associate fairly with the Falcons. Better than expected and a great team? I'll drink to that, for sure.
Next Week: The hated, disgusting, loathsome, bothersome, dreadful, stankatonic Bucs, ably represented by our fine friends at Buc 'Em. Check 'em out early this week.
Final Word: Nextweek.