For the second time in as many weeks, the Atlanta Falcons took care of business and routed an inferior opponent.
While the victory in Los Angeles was certainly impressive, the Falcons’ home win on Sunday may have been even better. Atlanta scored on its first three possessions and could have done so on its first five had it not been for a Devonta Freeman fumble at the 1-yard line.
Aside from the defense losing focus near the end of the first half, it was a nearly-flawless game from the Falcons. This is exactly what fans wanted to see during the most important stretch of the season, and it’s a testament to the message Dan Quinn and his staff have sold to the team.
Even more impressive, was that this two-game stretch has been dominated without the team’s top offensive weapon and several players injured on the defensive side of the ball.
Two important division games remain between now and a spot in the playoffs, but before we look ahead, let’s look back at yet another dominant victory.
One reason to celebrate
Taking care of business: Following the Falcons’ demoralizing loss to Kansas City, a certain radio station said this team was entering something akin to a no-win situation. With upcoming games against the lifeless Rams and 49ers, Atlanta wouldn’t gain anything by winning but a loss would be a major blow to the belief that this season could amount to something.
That’s not incorrect. By beating teams they were expected to beat, the Falcons wouldn’t be making any type of a statement. A loss to one of those teams, however, would result in more discussion of a collapse and the national media writing this squad off as another Atlanta team with more flash than substance.
Entering a no-win situation, these Falcons actually found a way to win. For 120 minutes, the Falcons went out and controlled every facet of the game and proved they were different.
It is sometimes easy to forget just how close many of Atlanta’s losses have been and who they have lost to. Outside of a no-show game in Philadelphia, the Falcons have lost to talented teams that are above average in certain facets of the game.
With so many close games this season, there was a sense that Atlanta would play down to its opponents over the past two weeks and give fans cause for concern. Instead, the Falcons dominated inferior opponents. That’s exactly what good teams do.
.@devontafreeman running through tackles out here. Nothin' new. #RiseUp https://t.co/u3c2Wx0KUd— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) December 18, 2016
One thing I’ve noticed in reading the comments from this fine avian-themed community, is a sense of impending letdown in some form or fashion. As a longtime Falcons fan, I know this feeling well. It isn’t one that any of us will be able to shake anytime soon, but perhaps we can finally dare to realize this team might be different.
This team doesn’t let lesser groups hang around well after they should. This team has an offense resembling those seen on Madden. This team has a defense that is coming together behind rookies who are beginning to play like stars. This team has shown it can take care of business, which is plenty of reason to celebrate.
One reason to worry
Injuries: For the third week in a row, injuries ought to be the primary reason for concern. Yes, the Falcons should get Julio back in the fold against Carolina, but for the third straight game they had a couple of important pieces go down.
Most notable among the banged-up players from Sunday are DeVondre Campbell and Austin Hooper. Campbell left the game due to a concussion and is currently in the concussion protocol. Hooper had a knee injury that looked very troublesome, but may not be as bad as initially thought.
Still, injuries are the one thing that can tear down a team unlike anything else. The Falcons have shown a truly praise-worthy resiliency over the past several weeks without some of their key players. But does anybody really want to test that resiliency in the playoffs with second- and third-string players at important positions?