After a great, thrilling win like the one Atlanta got in week eight, it is always good to give credit to the players who helped in that win. Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers were dueling and dealing in the Georgia Dome, but Ryan outlasted Rodgers as the Falcons beat the Packers 33-32 after a Matt Ryan-to-Mohamed Sanu touchdown pass with 31 seconds left in the game. The last two minutes were obviously great, but let’s take a deeper look into who contributed to the big win.
As is custom, we’ll check out the offense first.
- Matt Ryan, 87.6: Matt Ryan lead the offense to a 33 point day against the Green Bay defense. More impressive than the point total, Ryan was 28-of-35 for just under 300 yards and three touchdowns, with 0ver 100 of his yards coming over the middle. Once again, Ryan distributed the ball to a number of different players and looked incredibly confident—that touchdown pass to Taylor Gabriel was a thing of beauty. I think the 87.6 may be a little low but it is nothing to really complain too much about.
- Jake Matthews, 78.7: Jake Matthews did a great job against a tough, stout front-seven for Green Bay. Matthews didn’t have any huge mistakes and gave Ryan plenty of time to throw as he protected his blindside. The run game was not very impressive and there were a couple of times when Levine Toilolo and Matthews got blown up on some outside runs.
- Mohamed Sanu, 77 and Taylor Gabriel, 76.4: These two played very well in a game where Julio was obviously hurting a little bit. Gabriel had a number of big catches, including the 47-yard touchdown in the first quarter, and Sanu was the feature player in the game-winning drive that ended with his TD catch to win the game for Atlanta. Gabriel adds one more dimension to this offense and Sanu finally had the game so many Atlanta fans have been looking for.
- Deion Jones, 89.3: Jones continues to shine at his LB spot and bounced back very well after a rough week last week. He was great against the run and had a number of good plays in coverage. This defensive scheme demands a lot from its linebackers, not to mention being the signal-caller on that side of the ball. Deion Jones is in the conversation for best linebacker that Atlanta has had in the last few years and he is only a rookie.
- Robert Alford, 85.3: ROCKY! This is great to see Alford playing well for the second week in a row. After his one-on-one a couple of weeks ago, he has cleaned up his play and limited the penalties he gets called for. Let’s hope that he can keep this up and continue to improve, because if both sides of the field are covered pretty well, the job for Atlanta’s defense will get a lot easier.
- Grady Jarrett, 78.9: Grady Jarrett has become Atlanta’s most consistent defensive lineman and is the anchor for a group that has definitely had its struggles. He is routinely in the backfield seconds after the ball is snapped, but he still needs to improve in terms of finishing plays. This grade seems more than fair.
Many are calling this game the biggest win of Dan Quinn’s time in Atlanta, thus far, and I think one would be hard-pressed to come up with a bigger, more meaningful win in the last two seasons. If the Falcons lose that game, this feels like 2015 all over again. Luckily, Matt Ryan looked as good as he ever has and the defense made just enough plays to win the game. The defense will hopefully continue to grow up and improve, hoping to reach their peak in December and January, hopefully. Sanu and Gabriel had great games but they need to be more consistent than they have this season—Sanu, especially. Let’s hope they are able to do so.