The Atlanta Falcons got a much needed win Sunday afternoon. While the first half inspired anxiety and anger (familiar feelings over these past several weeks, eh?), the team battled in the second half and came away with the win. Here are my key takeaways now that the Falcons once again have a winning record.
The defense is hitting its stride
Dan Quinn and Marquand Manuel know how to motivate their defense. Despite torrential rain, there was no stopping this defense today. They battled, particularly in the second half. They racked up three sacks and had to overcome some poor officiating. They weren’t perfect, not even close, but they came up with some decisive third down stops and kept the offense in the game.
There’s no quit in Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan had a tough time holding onto the football today. He fumbled a couple times but rebounded nicely, throwing two touchdown passes and throwing for 254 yards. That 50+ yard pass to Julio Jones was magical, as was his touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu, which required some fancy footwork while under pressure. Matt has had a tough year, so even if we didn’t need it to, his performance today inspired a lot of confidence going forward.
The Falcons are turning the corner on special teams
Special teams can never be discounted in the NFL. It makes it much harder to win a game when your special teams play is lackluster. So when your special teamers do things that make winning much easier, it’s an added bonus. Matt Bosher had a couple key punts late in the game. One of his punts pinned the Jets within five yards of the end zone. (The punt hit the ground and immediately took a 90 degree turn and flew out of bounds.) A second Matt Bosher punt stayed in the air for a ridiculously long time and was then fumbled, which led to a Kemal Ishmael recovery. Don’t forget about Matt Bryant going four for four on field goal attempts.