If you watched the Falcons at all this year, what I'm about to tell you won't come as any sort of surprise. While the Falcons' defense was generally below-average in terms of its efficiency, it absolutely thrived against play action. In other words, you didn't see the Falcons getting burned by play action very often. Who doesn't like hearing that?
As the above-linked, fancy schmancy chart explains, our opponents struggled like Dave in the midst of a Steel Reserve hangover when running play action. It's not that they gained less yards against us when running play action. They actually gained an average of 0.2 yards/play more (than on non-play action plays). But efficiency is what really matters, and those numbers are telling. The Falcons' defense was 25.8 more efficient against play action than against non-play action. Wowzers!
Don't let the kooky numbers and fancy statistics confuse you. I'll break it down for ya. The bottom line is this: negative efficiency (measured in terms of DVOA or defense-adjusted value above average) is the good that you look for when evaluating defenses. As I've already mentioned, the Falcons' defense wasn't particularly efficient. On the whole, they were 5 percent less efficient than league average. But not when facing play action. Against play action, they were way above average. They were the best defense against play action in the league in 2012.
In my mind, this all says something about our safeties. You can say it's all schematic, but methinks Mr. Decoud and Mr. Moore are to thank. Still, at the end of the day, success against play action does not a good defense make. It's a positive, and it's something they should try to keep going. But considering that the Ravens were absolutely horrendous against play action, it doesn't appear to be make or break.