Archive for the ‘Atlanta Falcons’ Category

He finally did it. He won a playoff game. A round of applause should be given to Matt Ryan for his gutsy performance on Sunday. It wasn’t without mistakes, as he threw two interceptions, but he fought back and put his team in a position to win with two big throws in the dying seconds of the fourth quarter.

When Ryan walked onto the field prior to taking the first snap of his final drive, Brian Billick was nostalgic. He kept referencing the mighty comeback Ryan led against the Chicago Bears in 2008, which was a very good and somewhat similar one to this. On Ryan’s final throw that day to set up the game-winning field goal, he hooked up with wide receiver Michael Jenkins, as Billick later recalled, around the 30-yard line on a corner route that was ran on the backside of the formation. Then kicker Jason Elam struck the ball through the uprights for a 22-to-20 victory.

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In a word, no, especially not if John Abraham isn’t John Abraham at all this weekend, and is instead the limited shell of himself we saw Sunday when he re-aggravated his ankle injury and only appeared in 15 plays. But since a post that’s one word long isn’t a post at all, I thought it would be fun to look back at recent case studies, and what this edition of the Atlanta Falcons defense has given us when it’s been faced with a quarterback who excels at propelling his body down a football field quickly with the use of his feet.

Colin Kaepernick is quite good at that, we’re told.

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There’s euphoria in Atlanta after the Falcons finally won a playoff game during the Mike Smith/Matt Ryan era, and they’re now no longer the suckiest bunch of sucks who ever sucked. Nevermind that they deserved to lose yesterday, and nevermind that a vertical, aggressive team melted into a conservative wimp out, with the strategy in the fourth quarter after the lead was cut to six being to slam into the Seahawks’ defensive line twice, and then just assume Matt Ryan could find an opening on third and long against the league’s best corners. Logic lost.

But forget about that, and just let it whither away now. None of it matters as we continue unpacking the divisional weekend, while looking ahead to what should be two equally fantastic championship games this Sunday. FOOTBALL!

Despite their near catastrophe, the surprising emergence of the running game was encouraging for Atlanta, as Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers combined for 162 rushing yards after the Falcons had averaged only 87.3 yards per week..

Turner finished with 98 yards on 14 carries, an average of seven yards per carry. To truly grasp the enormity of Turner’s rumbling, we only need to look back at his most recent performances during his year of sucking. Over the last four games of the regular season, Turner logged weeks with just 15 and 18 yards, a stretch in which he had only 125 total yards. It will surprise you to know that if a running back can only accumulate the equivalent of a really good single game for most backs over four weeks, his season was probably pretty horrendous. And look, overall the plodding Turner finished with only 800 rushing yards, a significant departure from his 1,340 yards last year. Most impressively, his per carry average yesterday was 3.4 yards higher than his overall season average.

It was as if his body was replaced with one that has the required parts to move briskly, and break tackles. And yet, if the Falcons intend to beat the 49ers, Turner isn’t the most important running back on their roster.

Hell, he’s not even the lead back.

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This could have ended a lot differently, and this probably should have ended a lot differently. When a mostly fast, mostly up-tempo, mostly vertical team tries to revert to being conservative, generally what they’re asking for is then received.

Failure. Crushing, and repeated failure.

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As I type this Jacquizz Rodgers just had a solid return to about the 35 yard-line, and with two timeouts and 25 seconds left, some Matt Ryan heroics are definitely possible (and as I typed THAT, he completed a 22-yard pass to Harry Douglas, and then a 19 yarder to Tony Gonzalez…YOU GUYS).

For now, this could be the thing that keeps the Falcons narrative going.

UPDATE: Those two long completions led to a 49-yard field goal by Matt Bryant. Thanks for saving us from another offseason of hearing how much Ryan can’t win in the playoffs.

Hey, does anyone have an opinion regarding Peyton Manning, and whether or not he can win really important football contests?

We’ll have more reactionary words shortly as I attempt to make sense of a game in which a horribly botched squib kick by Bryant gave the Seahawks a chance to heave one into the end zone as time expired. If Russell Wilson’s prayer was answered, it would have been the third lead change in the final two minutes.

Yes, that was a real thing.

And really, don’t we all? No, not like Dunta Robinson. He’s addicted.

The Falcons’ new fan interaction policies may have gone a little too far.