It wouldn’t be a Falcons game without a big lead eroding before us, but at least the outcome this time was dramatically different. Many fans might be frustrated with how the game ended, but winning in Seattle is a very difficult task and this Falcons team found a way to make it happen. Here are some other takeaways from the thrilling Monday night win.
Ryan’s accuracy coming together at the right time
Matt Ryan has not been the issue with the team this year, but there were legitimate concerns about his downfield accuracy to start the season. However, that issue appears to be improving each week, culminating in a very strong performance from him on Monday night.
On several occasions, Ryan’s deep ball was perfect - particularly on the TD pass to Levine Toilolo. His TD pass to Sanu was noted for Mohamed Sanu’s fantastic one-handed grab, but Ryan dropped it in a place where only his receiver had a chance at it. Were it not for the defensive pass interference on the opening drive, his deep pass to Sanu likely would have been a TD pass as well.
To beat the best teams in the NFC, this Falcons team will still need Ryan to carry them. The defense is still inconsistent and the running game is hit and miss. If the Falcons are going to make a run for the playoffs, we need Ryan to play at this best. It looks like we’re seeing that from him at the perfect time.
Depth players making a difference
With Devonta Freeman out and Tevin Coleman largely ineffective, Terron Ward showed why he is a legitimate RB3 that can be counted on. He had several impressive runs against a very good defensive front, helping to extend drives that were critical to winning the game.
Justin Hardy was also a factor early on, helping to convert key third downs.
Levine Toilolo caught a well designed deep pass for a TD, proving that he’s somehow better at deep passes than short ones (I still don’t get it).
Guys like Takk McKinley and Courtney Upshaw had impact plays that led directly to defensive stops and scores.
The Falcons are relying on their guys further down the roster and are getting contributions again. This was part of what made the team so dangerous last year, so it’s nice to see it becoming a factor again. Let’s hope it continues.
Pass rush doing what it should
The Falcons are now 4th in the NFL in sacks with 29. Let that sink in: the Falcons are 4th in the NFL in sacks. Some people will rightly point out that many of those came against sub-par competition, particularly when we played Dallas. Here’s the thing, though: the Falcons are doing exactly what you should do against poor offensive lines. Taking advantage of it is what good pass rushing teams do. The Watts and Von Millers of the NFL feast on bad offensive lines just as much as the Falcons have. The fact that we’ve racked up sacks against bad competition should not be held against this unit.
This also doesn’t mean the Falcons have a dominant pass rush, either, but it’s clearly an improved unit overall. I look forward to the day when we are beating top-tier offensive lines, but that’s not going to happen overnight. At the very least, this pass rush is doing what it should be doing - taking advantage of poor competition.
What are your takeaways from the win over the Seahawks?