What a game. What a win. I still can’t believe we literally and figuratively ran the Seahawks out of the Dome. If that was the final Dome game, it was one for the ages. Matt Ryan was a little shaky at times, but when the pressure was on, he was largely brilliant, and a battered Seahawks defense stood no chance. The Falcons defense once again started off slowly but rounded into form nicely by the mid-game. You have to think the Falcons are capable of beating either Dallas or Green Bay, which gets you thinking. It’s too soon to look beyond the game ahead, so enjoy this victory all week long, Falcons fans. The pressure goes up a hundredfold next week.
Want proof that this isn’t the same Falcons team as in year’s past? They finished strong. Even when the Falcons beat the Seahawks back in 2013, we watched as this team let the game slowly drift away from them. It took another miracle drive from Ryan and company to win that game. Not this time. This Falcons team came out in the second half even stronger than they were in the first. This is also not a soft team. This defense hits hard and plays with an attitude that is consistent with that of a contender. None of this guarantees future success, but it does show that this Falcons team should not be held to the fears of past collapses. This is a fun team to watch, and they are playing at a high level even still. If they continue to do so, there may not be a limit to what they can accomplish.
That may have been the most fun game I’ve ever watched. The Falcons absolutely dominated Seattle, and it was only briefly close. I love that Dan Quinn didn’t take his foot off the gas. After years of Mike Smith, I think I’m half-expecting a collapse at any minute. Maybe a disastrous second half. Nope. This is undoubtedly a different team under Quinn, and one that isn’t afraid to be aggressive enough to win in the playoffs.
After that first drive, I had no clue what to expect. I definitely didn't expect that. This team is so much fun to watch on both sides of the ball--sure, the defense makes mistakes at times but they also make plays like Brian Poole’s hit on Wilson, Alford’s tackle of Baldwin on third down, and Keanu Neal forcing a bad pass that got picked off by Ricardo Allen. Matt Ryan continued to play like an MVP and really seemed to put his playoff demons behind him. This was the least Atlanta-sports performance I've ever seen from an Atlanta sports team. That was great to see, no matter how the rest of the playoffs shake out.
I had a feeling entering the game that we’d see a strong performance from the defense. After the Seahawks’ opening drive, I was convinced that I knew nothing about football. Sure enough, though, the defense made the plays when it needed to and allowed the offense to grab the lead and never look back. It’s easy to get caught up the team’s performance and the genius of Kyle Shanahan’s offense, but I want to take a second to give praise to Dan Quinn. I didn’t know what to expect when Quinn was hired, but he quickly won me over and I think he is the perfect coach this team needs. His personal belief in consistency is apparent on the field, and the Falcons no longer look like a different team from week to week. He’s the biggest reason I have complete trust in this team.
That was about as thorough and complete a win as I’ve seen by any Falcons team. Anyone, from fans to sports pundits, who continues the narrative that the Falcons aren’t built to be dangerous in the playoffs just isn’t paying attention or is being paid to perpetuate that myth. I wrote before Saturday’s game that this isn’t the same Falcons team of the early 2010s and Dan Quinn’s group went out and proved that in a more emphatic way than I could have imagined. On Twitter, I predicted a 36-24 win by the Falcons, but I wasn’t quite sure how we’d arrive in the neighborhood of that score. I’d argue that the 20 points the Seahawks did put up Saturday made the game look a lot closer than it ever was. Yeah, yeah, I know that Russell Wilson has the ability to make anything happen. There’s no arguing that. It just wasn’t his time, and that became clear early in the second half. As we now look ahead, I don’t care who the Falcons are facing in the NFC Championship Game; for me, it’s going to be the game of the year… for at least one week.
I’m ready to believe this Falcons team is Super Bowl bound, and that they will be in the mix in the NFC for years to come. I’m ready because they’ve shown me just how good they can be, over and over again over the last few months, against truly tough competition. This victory over the Seahawks should be something we savor for months, but the goalposts have been moved and we know Green Bay is on the way, and I’m already preparing for what’s next. I guess that’s what happens when you love a great football team.