At 1-1 and coming off a huge win over the Arizona Cardinals, the Atlanta Falcons were a thorough enigma.
With a matchup against the New Orleans Saints next on the plate—in the Superdome where the Falcons hadn't beaten their reviled rivals since 2002—would they show up as the offensive juggernaut who left Arizona even more of a desert than the way they found it? Or would they be the struggling team that could barely make a dent in the Pittsburgh Steelers?
As it turns out, the Falcons showed up to play, much to our eternal joy. Hit the jump with me for a full breakdown of the game.
The Saints got off to a typically strong start, driving down the field against a Falcons defense that fought bitterly to contain them. When Drew Brees connected with Jeremy Shockey on a two-yard touchdown pass, Falcons fans the world over groaned. They had seen this before.
Except the Falcons struck back, on a 13 yard touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez that was part of a very efficient day from one Matthew Ryan, who tossed two touchdown passes in all. The dogfight that ensued over the next three quarters made for one of the best games I'd ever seen.
Some of the hallmarks of the 2010 Atlanta Falcons emerged in this game, more than any other in the early going. There was the bend-but-don't break defense that came up big at the end of the game, the clutch passing game, the sight of Michael Turner running into the pile 25 times and taking his other five carries for enormous gains. And above all, there was a win so close you could feel the wind from it.
And for good measure, Brent Grimes picked off Drew Brees. Again. This game had everything.
Remember this win fondly in the comments, if you would.