Road wins in the NFL are never easy. At all. Particularly when you head into the lair of a division rival and have to steal a victory from right from under them.
That’s exactly what this bunch of scrappy Atlanta Falcons did to move to 4-4 on the season. A gritty 27-25 win in front of the raucous New Orleans crowd had more flavor than a seafood boil at a restaurant on Bourbon Street. On to the four things we learned from this week’s contest.
#1: Cordarrelle Patterson is well....pretty good
If you did not already know this by now, veteran receiver Cordarrelle Patterson is pretty good at what he does for a living. Many offenses had to be spoon fed his versatility and turned up their noses at it, but since his arrival to the Falcons, he has showcased that he can impact a game in a variety of ways.
Staring at a one-point deficit with one minute remaining in regulation, quarterback Matt Ryan lofted a pass into the awaiting hands of Patterson, which led to a 64-yard play to put the Falcons in field goal position and the win. On the day, Patterson totaled 126 yards receiving, which is the second-highest single-game total in his career. We’re talking Falcons midseason offensive MVP late today, and Patterson has an excellent case to walk away with that honor. Seeing him week in and week out place his fingerprints on the team’s offensive game plan has been fun to watch.
#2: Team is learning to deal with adversity
I know, I know. Watching this Falcons organization in a situation in which another blown lead is slowly blooming late in the game is beyond tiring. Like watching repeats of a below average sitcom, it gets to the point where what you are witnessing is beyond tiresome.
Once again, the Falcons found themselves in the same episode of “build a lead, relinquish it late, leave fans clutching their chest and pulling out their hair.” Only this time, it was the Falcons making the big plays late to rally and pull out the win. Similar to their outing against Miami, the found themselves on the losing end late in the contest after playing well for most of the game prior. I will say however, it does feel really well to see the team fight back late and snatch a win away, no matter how bumpy the road there is.
#3: Unknown name makes an impact
Individuals (including myself) were busy checking the team roster and recent transactions to discover exactly who Anthony Rush was. The 350-pound nose tackle out of Alabama-Birmingham introduced himself in a major way after being activated for the first time this season. He made three tackles against the Saints and became a hard body to move at times because of his girth and surprising quickness.
My favorite moment of his was the hustle shown on the Steven Means fumble recovery in the fourth quarter where the big man sprinted 25 yards in an attempt to block for his teammate. Rush may not be a household name at the moment but his outing against the Saints was encouraging for a team that is in need of significant depth at the defensive side of the ball, and Rush has been promoted to the active roster.
#4: Young corner, young stud
Second-year corner A.J. Terrell is establishing himself on a weekly basis, ladies and gentlemen. Terrell was targeted just five times on Sunday and allowed just two receptions for 19 yards. According to PFF, Terrell has the second-highest coverage grade in the league at 83.8, behind only Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
Terrell still does not have an interception recorded this season, but that is due to opponents choosing to stay away from Terrell and whatever receiver he is lined up against. Shutdown corners in the NFL are important and for the Falcons, Terrell is firmly establishing himself as someone who belongs in that conversation.