Coming off a dominating win against the Texans, there was some fear that this game with Washington could end up being a trap game. When you consider that the Saints are just around the corner on Thursday, it's easy to see how the team may have been looking slightly ahead. Thankfully, though the game was ugly throughout, the defense buckled down when it counted. Additionally, QB Matt Ryan - who was quite bad on the afternoon - turned in yet another clutch drive late in the fourth quarter. Here are some key takeaways from the game.
Alford proving doubters wrong
After the Giants game, quite a few fans had some harsh thoughts about our third year corner. Our own Charles McDonald tackled those frustrations head on, and over the past two games Alford has proven to be a good, young corner who is improving weekly. He proved it in impressive fashion on Sunday against Washington.
As a draft-mate of top-5 corner Desmond Trufant, there have been some unreasonable expectations thrust on Alford in recent weeks. The reality is that he has great physical tools and is now beginning to integrate the mental game as well. As teams target him more, he's becoming more and more adept at disrupting passes. Against Washington, that paid off in the form of two interceptions - the second of which sealed the victory.
With Jalen Collins needing more time to develop, it was critical that Alford take a step forward. The early returns are very promising.
Freeman is nearly unstoppable right now
For the third straight week, the Falcons went up against a team with a stout defensive line capable of shutting down the run. For the third straight week, Devonta Freeman gashed that defense on the ground. Undoubtedly, the Falcons offensive line has done a good job of run blocking but Freeman has absolutely taken advantage of those blocks. The second year player out of Florida State has been nothing short of amazing in this three game stretch. While it's likely his snap count is reduced more once Coleman gets healthy, it's clear that Freeman is in the middle of a fantastic stretch for the team.
Frankly, his performance couldn't have come at a more important time. With Ryan struggling and Julio somewhat hobbled, having a reliable offensive threat outside of our two biggest stars was important on Sunday. Freeman's ability to deliver - despite facing "top tier" defensive opposition - is turning him into a near unstoppable force right now, and it's incredibly fun to watch.
An ugly win is still a win
When your QB is responsible for 3 turnovers, it's hard to win. When you start the game with 4 drops - including 3 from your top receiver - you're going to struggle to win. If your offensive line allows pressure on your quarterback, it's going to be hard to win. The reality is the game against Washington could have gone terribly. Yet, this team found a way to win even when nothing was going right. The defense clamped down at key moments. The offense came through in the fourth quarter. This game was ugly in so many ways, yet this team still found a way to pull out the win.
I truly hope we don't have many more games like this, but this team has shown an amazing ability to overcome adversity - even if some of that adversity was created by the team itself. It wasn't a convincing win, but it was a win nonetheless. For a team that had some serious question marks entering the season, being 5-0 is hardly anything to complain about.
What are your takeaways from the game against Washington?