Losses are never fun. Throw in some missed opportunities and a horrible no-call on a clear defensive pass interference, and it makes the loss that much worse. However, a loss can tell you a lot about a team. I don’t think anyone expected this Falcons team to go undefeated the rest of the way, and losing a road game against a perennial Super Bowl contender is hardly a shameful way to lose. This loss stings, but it stings less than others. Really, though, this loss showed us quite a few positives that can be taken into the rest of the season.
Toughness and resiliency
It’s a cliche - and I normally hate cliches - but it is one that this team demonstrated in spades. Despite being absolutely hammered throughout a miserable first-half, Matt Ryan bounced back in a big, big way in the third quarter. He absolutely torched the top-tier Seattle defense once he had time, and looked every bit like the MVP candidate we believe him to be.
Ryan wasn’t alone, though. His offensive line bounced back from a disastrous first half and played significantly better against a fired-up Seahawks defensive line. Julio re-appeared as well, making Seattle’s vaulted secondary look human in the third quarter.
On the other side of the ball, after allowing 17 first half points, the defense clamped down in the third quarter. Frankly, they were good for most of the game, with the two offensive turnovers putting them in poor field position.
With the way the game started, it would have been easy to just fold in the second half. This Falcons team didn’t do that. Instead, they fought back in a way we haven’t seen in a long time. It was encouraging, even if the final result fell just a bit short.
Despite the loss, this is a top NFC team
Make no mistake: the Seahawks are still one of the best teams in the NFL. The offense may not be a top unit, but that defense is still loaded with talent and clearly is one of the best in the NFL. Coming back from a two-score deficit against that good of a defense is no small task, and yet, it’s exactly what this Falcons team did.
What this game showed us is that the Falcons can go toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the NFL - on their turf - and nearly come away with an improbable win. When you factor in the week of rest that Seattle had, and the fact that the Falcons were on their second straight road game, it makes this game that much more impressive.
The defense is improving with every game
Seattle’s offense will never be confused for a top-flight unit, but once again the Falcons defense did an admirable job. Starting with the game against the Panthers, this unit has slowly gotten better every week. They shut down Carolina for 3 quarters before loosening up in the fourth quarter. They harassed and beat up the Broncos and held them in check for most of the game. In Seattle, they were dealt some bad hands as the result of offensive turnovers but managed to look competent the rest of the time.
The pass rush is still not great, but it is improving. Young players like Grady Jarrett, Vic Beasley, Keanu Neal and Deion Jones appear to be improving with every play. Don’t get me wrong - this is not a “good” unit yet. However, they’re improving and if the trend continues, there’s little reason to believe they can’t be an average (or even decent) unit by the end of the year. We’ll still need our offense to put up big points, but so long as this defense continues it’s upward trend, the future looks bright for this team in 2017 and beyond.
What are your takeaways from the game against the Seahawks?