The Falcons had a lot working against them going into this game. For starters, they had a hard fought game on Monday night - which meant a short week for preparation and a possible emotional let-down. They also had to face a team that suffered a tough loss in week one, and would be looking to bounce back in the Giants. None of that mattered as the team fought hard for this win, despite some poor drops and woeful missed tackles. Here are three key takeaways about the game that put the Falcons at 2-0.
Defense is stepping up in critical moments
Given that Dan Quinn was brought in for his defensive prowess, this is still a nice sight to see. Granted, there were some awful plays during this game - and some head scratching missed tackles - but this defense is playing hard and making key plays in critical moments. Beasley forcing a false start helped limit the Giants to an early field goal. Kroy Biermann - often lauded for his lack of pass rushing ability - would strip sack Eli Manning deep in Falcons territory and trigger a long drive that would put the Falcons back in the game.
When coupled with some key defensive stops last week, this is a defense that is making big plays in critical moments - instead of the opposite. While turning this D into a top-10 unit is going to take some time, it's a promising sign that it can be counted on to help close out games - something we haven't had in the past.
New weapons finally come through
Julio Jones is a near unstoppable weapon. Most NFL teams are realizing there's little they can do to stop him. What has to be concerning for teams is when Ryan has other weapons to distribute the ball to. Last week, Tevin Coleman came through and helped Atlanta establish a running game. This week, Jacob Tamme and Leonard Hankerson both stepped up. Tamme had 4 receptions for 77 yards, while Hankerson added 6 for 77 yards and a receiving TD. There's been a lot of talk about these guys being potential weapons this pre-season and they showed why on Sunday. If they can continue to produce, the Falcons opponents will have a hard time keeping this team out of the end zone.
Still a work in progress
Even after starting 2-0, it's clear the Falcons still have a good bit to work on. The offensive line was still offensive at times. The defense had some awful missed tackles on top of some terrible coverage gaffes. Receivers had some terrible drops and even Ryan had his trademark "oh god" throw.
And yet, the team stands at 2-0.
It's important to remember that there is a brand new scheme on both sides of the ball, with some new players on both sides. Heck, the entire interior of the Falcons OL is completely different from last year. That's a huge change that normally takes time for teams to adjust to. The fact that the Falcons have started 2-0 is remarkable in light of these facts. Incredibly, we've probably not seen the best that this team has to offer yet. I was a firm believer that the team would look better at the end of the season than at the beginning of it. If that holds true, watch out.
What are your takeaways from the Falcons vs. Giants game?