Coming into this season, there were some significant concerns with this team. Fans were concerned about the newly assembled offensive line and in conjunction with that, the running game. With a rough schedule to start the season - three straight NFC East games with two in a row on the road - many fans (and writers) thought the Falcons could start 0-3. Even optimistic fans felt that 1-2 would be a decent start. To say that this 3-0 start is a surprise feels like an understatement. Here are three takeaways from the latest victory from our undefeated team.
This team has a renewed "never say die" attitude
In just his 8th season, Matt Ryan already has 30 4th quarter comebacks/game winning drives - most ever for a QB in his first 8 seasons. And while QBs normally get credit for this statistic, it's clear that the "never say die" attitude has taken hold for this entire team - starting with new head coach Dan Quinn. The first three games have shown glimpses of this, but none as impressively as this game.
The entire Falcons team looked flat for most of the first half. The defense couldn't tackle or shed blocks. The offense looked off and Ryan was very inaccurate early on. Twice, this team was down by 14 points to a Cowboys team without it's star QB or star receiver. It looked like the game was lost before we even got to the second half.
But this team kept fighting, including an impressive drive to close out the first half with under 50 seconds left on the clock. That would be the drive that started an eventual 25-0 run. A run in which the defense completely shut down the Dallas offense in the second half. One in which the Falcons would score a TD on almost every drive in the third and fourth quarters. A run in which Ryan - and the entire team - earned another fourth quarter comeback victory.
This OL is really coming together
Remember that big concern I mentioned earlier? Well, today's game was one of the most impressive performances yet for the Falcons offensive line. After giving up an early sack, the offensive line settled down and gave Ryan solid protection all afternoon. On top of that, they were instrumental in establishing a running game that looked dominant. Ryan was able to pass for nearly 300 yards and 2 TDs while Devonta Freeman rushed for 141 yards on 30 carries and 3 TDs.
This is an OL that features three new starters on the interior of the line, including one who wasn't even with the team in the preseason. To see them performing this well only 3 games into the season is highly encouraging. Make no mistake, that Cowboys D was ranked #1 against the run for a reason - and this OL helped to gash them. If this unit can continue to perform like this, the offense will be able to keep pace with any other team in the league.
An unbelievable start to the season
I'll be the first to admit that I thought the Falcons would start this season either 0-3 or 1-2. I would have been thrilled with a 2-1 start, but to go 3-0? Just - wow. It has been ugly at times, but I fully expected to see that from a team installing a new offense and defense. To have those struggles, and still be undefeated feels like a form of robbery.
So much can change in the NFL from week to week, so 3-0 is only a guarantee that our worst record will be 3-13. But, for a team that many saw as being in a "rebuilding" year, this is the kind of start few would even dream about. When you consider that this team still hasn't played to it's full potential through an entire game, you can see reasons to be optimistic about this season. No matter what, this has been an unbelievable start to the season.