I’m not sure exactly where the energy was mustered from after last week’s showing against the New Orleans Saints. But wherever it came from, the Atlanta Falcons were able to use it on the field for their week 12 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders. With that energy and hustle, the Falcons dominated from the coin toss to final gun which resulted in a 43-6 throttling for Atlanta. It was an impressive win not only by the margin of victory but against a quality AFC opponent also. Let’s highlight the key takeaways.
Easily the best game played by this young defense all season. The Raiders offense was eighth in the league in scoring and 10th in the league in touchdowns scored per game. This was an offense that scored 31 or more points in each of their last three games and six of their 10 games played this season.
So what was Raiders final output in this game? The Raiders only produced 243 total yards, 13 first downs, 40 yards rushing, five turnovers, five sacks allowed, 0-for-2 in the red zone, 3-for-12 on third down conversions. Not to mention, zero touchdowns scored as well. Their worst offensive performance all season in terms of yardage, points scored, and turnovers. Against the Falcons. of all teams.
The young Falcons defense deserves ample credit as they were able to make Raiders quarterback uncomfortable all afternoon and made running back Josh Jacobs and tight end Darren Waller complete non-factors.
He was not able to produce until the second half when the game was getting out of reach, bunning back Ito Smith was used extensively late in the game and the third year back made the most of the time he received. Smith led the team in rushing on the day despite not getting the start, posting 65 yards and averaging 5.4 yards per carry. His 8-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons a 40-6 lead and made most Falcons fans a little comfortable with such a big lead. Smith has been rarely used this season due to injuries and the usage of running backs in general in this offense. But when the Falcons relied on the utility back, he was dependable.
Ito and Qadree Ollison are the only two Falcons backs under contract next year. If he can be a prominent piece of the puzzle at running back, it will helps this team.
Debo makes a little history
The season started a little rocky for middle linebacker Deion Jones. But the athletic defender has improved his play the last few weeks. In his outing against the Raiders, Jones made a little history.
With his 67-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter, Jones became the first linebacker in NFL history to record five or more pick-6s within a player’s first five seasons in the NFL. It is a reputation that was been constructed since his first interception for touchdown was recorded during his rookie season against the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football. Since then, Jones has made himself a well known playmaker around the league.
His ability to create plays such as this gives this defense plenty of spark. Ironically, the five pick-6s that Jones has recorded as coincided with a 5-0 record for the Falcons in those games.