Atlanta Falcons Win Behind Ryan’s Arm, Timely Defense

Atlanta Falcons Marvin Hall (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Atlanta Falcons Marvin Hall (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Falcons have their first two game winning streak of the season beating the New York Giants 23-20 on Monday Night Football.

The cardiac crusaders strike again. As seems to be customary, the Atlanta Falcons made things much more interesting than they should have. None the less, the Falcons prevailed victoriously over the Giants, improving their record to 3-4.

The offense got off to a slow start. Three early sacks, allowed by the offensive line were drive killers. A penalty by Eric Saubert erased a 41 yard gain by Julio Jones, and caused a drive to end in a punt. Wes Schweitzer put the Dirty Birds behind the chains and stalled yet another drive with a false start.

The Atlanta Falcons finally got on the scoreboard, when Matt Ryan hit Marvin Hall in the end zone for a beautiful 47 yard touchdown pass. According to Mike Conti of 92.9 the game, the pass traveled 54 yards in the air. Not bad for a quarterback who is criticized for not being a good deep ball passer.

Next the Falcons and Giants swapped two field goals each, with a controversial Julio Jones fumble sandwiched in between. Then Atlanta broke through to pay dirt in the fourth quarter with another explosive play. This time it was Tevin Coleman on a 30 yard touchdown run.

The Giants got within eight points after a two yard touchdown run by Saquon Barkley and a failed two point conversion. The Atlanta Falcons responded once again with a clutch drive, capped off by an extremely clutch 56 yard field goal to put the Falcons up by 11.

New York did score again and add a two point conversion. However the Falcons recovered an onside kick, and held on for the three-point triumph.

While the Atlanta Falcons offense was struggling, the defense surprisingly kept the team in the game. I predicted the Falcons would get pressure against the Giants porous offensive line, but I did not foresee four first half sacks.

Most of the Dirty Birds’ sacks came from interior pressure. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett who returned from an ankle injury, provided half of those sacks. Defensive tackle Jack Crawford provided one as well.

Defensive End Takkarist McKinley also added a sack and now has a team leading 5.5 quarterback takedowns.

The return of Grady Jarrett also meant a lot for the run defense. They held the Giants to just 61 yards on the ground.

Matt Ryan was fantastic once again completing 31/39 passes for 379 yards and touchdown. He completed his last 17 passes and 79.4 percent of his throws for his game. Julio Jones had a great game as well catching nine passes for 109 yards. The only blemish was the controversial fumble.

Newly signed Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio who replaced the injured pro bowler Matt Bryant has huge in the game. Giorgio made field goals of 40, 50 and the super clutch 56 yard field goal that proved to be the difference. He certainly deserves a game ball.

The running game struggled outside of two big runs. The aforementioned 30 yard touchdown run by Tevin Coleman and a 14 yard run, the first play of the game, accounted for 44 of his 50 rushing yards. He carried the ball 11 times. The team often bypassed the inefficient run for the short passing game.

The offensive line and tight ends continue to stall drives with untimely penalties. The line had five penalties for 29 yards, but one deleted a 41 yard play to Julio Jones. A false start by tight end Austin Hooper also negated what would have been a game ending touchdown by Ito Smith.

In all Ryan Schraeder two, Wes Schweitzer, Eric Saubert and Austin Hooper all had penalties. Each penalty was a procedure penalty, except for the hold by Saubert.

Cornerback Robert Alford was beaten like a drum in this game. He was a part of the coverage for an unheard of three plays of 50 yards or more. Two of which he was toasted, despite being called for holding on the play. He was also beaten on the Giants lone touchdown pass.

Dan Quinn is going to have to seriously consider moving Alford off of the outside cornerback spot, and possibly into the slot to replace Brian Poole who is also struggling. The bye week might be the time to get Rookie Isaiah Oliver up to speed. Blidi Wreh-Wilson could be considered as well.

Defensively, missed tackles in the passing game continue to be a problem for the Atlanta Falcons defense as well. Despite the bend but don’t break defense allowing only 20 points, they did allow a robust 399 yards passing, to a previously struggling Eli Manning.

The other negative for the Dirty Birds, is another one that has been present all season long. That is injuries.

The Falcons lost offseason acquisition, right guard Brandon Fusco for the game, when his leg was rolled up on. Hopefully the injury isn’t serious but it didn’t look good. Ben Garland aka “Capitan” replaced Fusco.

Rookie third round draft pick Deadrin Senat also left the game with a neck injury and didn’t return. He is a guy the defense certainly can’t afford to lose long-term. Senate has played well against the run, to the point where he as rendered free agent Terrell McClain, as nothing more than depth.

The Atlanta Falcons win was certainly something to be encouraged by, yet there are plenty of corrections that need to he implemented.

The upcoming bye week seems to have arrived at the optimal time. This will give the players a chance to heal, and the coaches a chance to adjust strategy and rotations. One thing is for sure, the Atlanta Falcons are still in the thick of the race but they must continue to win games.

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What adjustments should the Atlanta Falcons make during the bye week? Leave your comments below. We will have more in-depth coverage on this win, as well as the upcoming matchup against the Washington Redskins after the bye.

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