I’m still trying to process what took place on Sunday in Santa Clara. The Falcons fought all game, the defense held firm against a team that just dropped 48 on the Saints, and with their backs against the wall, secured an improbable comeback as the clock expired.
It was the hallmark game of the season, and there was plenty to love as Atlanta stole a win from Shanahan & Co on the road.
Vic Beasley’s sack on the 49ers’ first possession
Vic Beasley is currently enjoying a pretty solid pass rushing stretch, netting three sacks in the previous two games. Beasley got it going on San Francisco’s opening drive, beating tackle Joe Staley to get to Jimmy Garappolo on second down.
His total sack tally stands at seven, so Beasley ostensibly has a shot to move to double-digit sacks by the time the season is said and done.
Matt Ryan’s second quarter touchdown pass to Julio Jones
A picture perfect pass to the pylon where only Julio Jones could get to it, and exceptional body control by Jones to toe tap his way to for the score. Not a lot has worked right for the Falcons this year, but the Ryan-Jones connection is still as lethal as ever.
With the loss of Desmond Trufant for the year, others down the depth chart have been called on to step up in his stead. Backup corner Blidi Wreh-Wilson put together an extremely strong game against San Francisco, securing two tackles for losses and defending three passes — including one to prevent a George Kittle touchdown.
Tip o’the cap for the coverage, Mr. Wilson.
THE GAME WINNER
Absolute brilliance. Get me into neurosurgery stat and implant the image of Julio Jones willing the football across the end zone plane behind my eyeballs so it’s all that I ever see until we’re sucked into the empty dark remnants of the sun.
With five seconds remaining on the clock and the Falcons facing a 3rd-and-5 from the 49ers five-yard-line, Matt Ryan bounced around in the pocket before flipping a quick pass over the middle to Julio Jones.
Jones, a tad shy of the goal line, secured the pass and withstood a low shot from safety Jimmie Ward, falling back over the line and edging the football just across the plane. Initially ruled short, the Falcons had a massive review go their way and took a 23-22 lead with two seconds remaining.
Kneeling on the two-point conversion
This was some adept coach-work from Quinn to limit the possibility of a turnover-safety should something go awry on the conversion attempt. Haunted by the Ghosts of Eric Berry Past, DQ elected to have Matt Ryan simply kneel on the 2-point try and force the 49ers into some backyard lateral play on the ensuing kickoff. Smart football.
The Falcons battled the referees just as much as they battled the 49ers on Sunday. The No-call on Moseley holding Julio for potential touchdown late in second quarter was laughable. Atlanta was flagged twice for some ticky-tack quarterback hits, while Matt Ryan is nearly massacred by two guys after clearly initiating a slide near the end of the third quarter. Embarrassing.
Covering George Kittle
George Kittle is one of the best tight ends in football, so of course the Falcons could not find a way to stop him, or even limit him. He was wide open practically the entire game, hauling in 13 passes for 134 yards.
Ben Kotwica’s unit did not have its best game, but at least we received full confirmation that Younghoe Koo was placed on this planet to perfect onside kicks. Of course Atlanta nullified the recovery because they were flagged for having only 10 men on the field.
Kenjon Barner has also been very good in his return role, but he coughed one up in the fourth quarter and nearly cost Atlanta the game.
We won’t dwell on the head-scratchers too much this week, however, because we’re still fully in celebratory mode after knocking off the best team in the NFC.