Merry Christmas, everybody! I’ll waste zero time: Here’s this week’s Hat Tips & Head-Scratchers from the win over the Carolina Panthers.
Matt Bosher brings the hammer down
Matt Bosher throwing Kenjon Barner down like he was late on a gambling debt was the best thing about this game. The Falcons won, sure, but this was the unequivocal highlight. He stood over the man like he was threatening his family.
Matt Bosher won Christmas, as far as this website is concerned.
Jack Crawford’s pick
This is a close second for the play of the game. Jack Crawford basically snaked Desmond Trufant’s would-be interception like it was the last Furby on the shelf (I’m old). Crawford has emerged as a solid addition to the defensive line, and plays like this one display the value he brings to the rotation on the interior.
Isaiah Oliver’s first interception
I think we can get used to this. Isaiah Oliver’s first interception in the NFL was one to remember — an over-the-shoulder grab in the end zone where he somehow kept both of his feet inbounds. It was reviewed, upheld, and gave us a brief look about what Oliver brings to the table.
Brian Hill’s big day
Second-year running back Brian Hill broke out against the Panthers, rushing for 115 yards on eight carries — including a 60-yard run at the end of the game. He tried to do a bit too much with a hurdle that led to a fumble, but we’ll forgive that for now. After all, it’s Christmas. With Tevin Coleman presumably departing in the offseason, the Falcons should have a formidable trio of backs with Devonta Freeman, Ito Smith, and Brian Hill — should they bring him back.
Desmond Trufant’s holding penalty on Carolina’s opening drive
Drive killing and drive extending penalties have been an issue for the Atlanta Falcons the entire season, and Desmond Trufant’s holding penalty on Carolina’s opening drive was beat-your-head-against-the-wall bad. These types of penalties have plagued this team — particularly on third down — and it was more of the same as the Panthers were gifted a new set of downs that eventually led to an Ian Thomas touchdown reception.
The Falcons have a lot to sort out in the offseason. Penalties should be near the top of the list.
Roughing the passer penalty on Grady Jarrett
It was the second time this season that Grady Jarrett was flagged for roughing the passer on a play that clearly wasn’t, and it was just as frustrating as the first time. Jarrett broke through the offensive line and cleanly wrapped up quarterback Taylor Heinicke around the ankles for the sack. Heinicke landed awkwardly on his arm, and it appeared the injury — and some vocal lobbying from the Panthers’ bench — is what drew the penalty.
The refs have made a concerted effort to protect quarterbacks this season, but this was simply a great play and a bad call.