Backs against the wall, coming in with a 4-4 record, essentially the season on the line, and the Atlanta Falcons showed up.
Granted, their opponent, the Dallas Cowboys, were without their starting running back and their starting left tackle. A left tackle that can make a case as the best in the game at his position. Yet, they were still equipped with Dak Prescott, Dez Bryant, Zach Martin, Travis Fredrick, Cole Beasley, Sean Lee, Demarcus Lawrence, Orlando Scandrick, and Byron Jones. Enough playmakers to form a respectable opponent.
What resulted was a 27-7 victory for the Falcons that was needed in the worst way possible.
A victory that received an historic performance from veteran defensive end Adrian Clayborn where he set the franchise record for most sacks in a game with six. If you played close attention, the Falcons defense as a whole was superb as they allowed only 233 total yards, one touchdown, recorded eight sacks and forced two turnovers.
The offense on the other hand was good as they recorded 22 first downs and averaged 5.2 yards per play, scored 27 points and allowed only one sack. It was not the vintage Falcons offensive performance that we saw on several occasions during the 2016 season but it was an efficient outing from a unit that lost their leading rusher early in the contest.
If you haven't noticed it yet about this Falcons team, they have yet to truly put together a full game that would have many saying these are the Falcons we know. Not against Green Bay, not in the Detroit win, and definitely not in this latest one.
That's not to say that this win lacked importance. Because I would be lying to you if I did. Beating this Dallas team was possibly the most important win of the season for the Falcons. Why? Because it held similar value to getting important wins over Denver, Carolina, and even Green Bay last season. It gave the Falcons an opportunity to flex a little bit and gain a victory that allows them to stick their chest out a little.
With Seattle, Minnesota, and five more division games remaining, the Falcons have a tough road ahead of them and a win such as this helps the team steer a little better on that road.
It was fun seeing Clayborn literally have the game in his hands with his pass rushing. Fun to see safety Keanu Neal and linebackers Deion Jones and De'Vondre Campbell fly around the field. It was fun seeing Matt Ryan connect on big plays with Julio, Taylor Gabriel, Justin Hardy, and Austin Hooper. It was fun not seeing the play calling become the ultimate downfall to the team earning a defeat. What we learned is that although the Falcons are 5-4 and in the middle of the playoff hunt, the room of improvement can make the difference between a possible Wild Card team and one of the most feared teams in all of NFL. Many of you are probably hoping that they realize it as well.