Atlanta finally got a minor monkey off its back with a victory at Tampa Bay. Dan Quinn had been 0-3 against Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers, but he got some sweet revenge with a statement 43-28 victory on Thursday night.
The win gave the Falcons a 6-3 record and a 1.5-game lead over New Orleans in the NFC South. Atlanta got a chance to enjoy the weekend and recuperate from a brutal first half schedule in advance of a trip up to Philadelphia.
Before we look ahead, however, it’s time to look back at why we should be celebrating and why we need to be worried.
Reason to celebrate
Matt Ryan: Since you’re reading a blog called “The Falcoholic” I’m going to operate on the assumption that you are, in fact, a Falcons’ fan. As such, I think we are all in agreement that Matt Ryan has been the MVP of the first half of the season and should earn the award if he continues his stellar play.
Ryan once again had another masterful performance - on the road with a short week, no less – and completed 73.5 percent of his passes for 344 yards and 4 touchdowns. After starting 6-of-13, Ryan finished the game by completing 19 of his final 21 pass attempts. He’s locked in on a completely different level right now.
For further proof, here’s what Pro Football Focus had to say when evaluating his play:
“From a pure passing standpoint, that was easily the cleanest game any quarterback has had all season long. Ryan was close to flawless, and on his 29 unpressured dropbacks, Matty Ice was 24-of-29 for 318 yards and four touchdowns. Not a bad day at the office.”
This Atlanta offense is completely loaded with weapons, but Matty Ice is the main cog in the entire operation.
Reason to worry
Injuries: Injuries seem to be about the only thing capable of slowing down the Falcons right now, but that’s not a theory Atlanta fans want tested. Unfortunately, a few key pieces for the Falcons are nursing some wounds as the season rolls along.
Jacob Tamme, Tevin Coleman and Dwight Freeney sat out Thursday night’s game and Desmond Trufant notably left the contest with a shoulder injury. It remains to be seen how quickly each player will be able to return to the field, but the bye week should help the Falcons get most of the roster back in good shape.
No team makes it through an entire season unscathed, but Atlanta has been fairly fortunate in avoiding any crippling injuries to the team – KNOCKS ON ALL OF THE WOOD. The toughest part of the schedule is behind them, but the Falcons need to get people back for the stretch run to secure a playoff spot.