Man, I was worried. I’ve seen too many Falcons teams in the playoffs. When one of the teams is a “major disappointment,” (thanks Chris Collinsworth), it’s usually my team.
I was wrong to be worried. The Falcons were beating the living hell out of the Rams. My predicted best case scenario was a close win, but the Falcons brought this home by 13 points. This is honestly very surprising. And damn good.
Both teams started slow, beginning the night with each team having two back-to-back three-and-outs. We saw some cool plays, like Takk McKinley’s sack on Jared Goff. Takk is always good for a memorable celebration. The Falcons got lucky (first time for everything), with a punt deflected by a Rams player and recovered by Damontae Kazee. Birds had ridiculous field position, and... the drive never gets started. Matt Bryant brings in three points.
The defense came to play, particularly the secondary. Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant made back-to-back plays, but only after Brian Poole absolutely stuck Todd Gurley on first down. It was a straight disrespectful tackle.
The first quarter was about special teams and defense. Except it was Atlanta’s special teams and defense. It’s usually the opposite, so this feels so weird. You can name me anyone on that defense, and I can show you someone that made a clutch play. Even special teams forced some impressive turnovers.
Oh man, then the offense had a chance to shine, and Alex Mack literally carried Devonta Freeman in for a touchdown. It was beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like it.
This had the feeling of so many Falcons game. The Falcons went from an impressive 13-0 lead to a concerning 13-10 lead at halftime, thanks in part to another confusing Dan Quinn timeout that had zero consideration to the clock. The Falcons bounced back with a strong offensive drive, riding their run game all the way against this elite defensive line. Things fell apart in the red zone, and forced another field goal. Falcons bump to 16-10, then eventually, to 19-10.
Gurley finally blows through the Atlanta defense early in the 4th quarter. Rams gave their kicker (who was a day trader or something weird back in November) a chance in short yardage, and he made it. Falcons had to defend a 6 point lead. Matt Ryan had a killer toss to Jones in the end zone despite his slip on the turf. 26-10.
We were worried about Gurley all week, and he still had an impressive 101 yards rushing and 10 yards receiving. In the end, he was snuffed out minus one big rush. The Falcons put it together, and the game was never close. Defense, offense, special teams, and man, even coaching, got the Falcons to Philadelphia next week.