Late last week, I wrote about the Falcons needing this win to reverse a long-standing reputation for losing. I wrote that Matt Ryan’s legacy and all the good feelings about this team’s steady progress over the course of this season were, if not at stake, at least easy to cast into doubt after a loss.
I needn’t have worried. Atlanta handled their business in spectacular fashion, erasing questions about the toughness of their team, the quality of the offense, and whether the defense was up to the task of slowing down a Seattle offense that can still do work when they need to. It was the most impressive postseason win since the Falcons utterly dismantled the Rams back in 2005, and the Dan Quinn era has barely begun. Quinn’s defense is on track to be at least decent, the offense has all the pieces to continue to be very good, and Matt Bryant may kick until he’s 50. They’re good, and the active dismantling of Seattle ensures that people know it.
It was an unfortunate narrative to have to fight against, but an important one for a franchise about to move into a brand new stadium, and one fighting the ghosts of failures past. But while a Packers loss here would certainly get the Falcons kicked around in the media, I think we’ve crossed a threshold with this team where even the most stubborn holdouts recognize the arrow is pointed up.
And that’s the fair take. The Falcons could get their asses kicked a week from now, or even in the Super Bowl, and it would do nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for where this franchise is headed. At this point, the only people who legitimately doubt the Falcons and Ryan are those who have done so all along and will continue to do so regardless of their fortunes. This team outmuscled the Seattle Seahawks and put up 36 points along the way, and it’s just not possible to paint this team as a fluke doomed to fail because of its defense any longer.
They’ve made their stamp on the NFL already, and the ink is not dry just yet. A win against the Packers gets them a little further on the journey.