It's been a long time coming, but the Falcons are finally back in the win column after a thrilling overtime victory in which the Falcons won 34-31.
It wasn't pretty, and many of the same issues that have been present this year, were present in this game. This included poor pass protection against the league's second best pass rush in which the Falcons gave up six sacks and eight tackles for loss. It included getting little to no pressure on the opposing quarterback. The Falcons had no sacks, and never really came close to getting one. They struggled to contain the run gave up huge runs to running back CJ Spiller who had 149 yards rushing.
But somehow, the Falcons were able to win the game. Somehow, after losing all of these close games where the breaks didn't go the Falcons way, they finally did.
The Falcons got big games from their key position players. Matt Ryan threw for over 300 yards, going 28/47 for 311 yards and a touchdown. One of our keys to the game was making sure Ryan didn't turn the ball over. Even though he had constant pressure on him all game, and wasn't at his most accurate, Ryan did not turn the ball over, something that had plagued him on the road all year long.
Steven Jackson was diligent, and had his best day rushing as a Falcon. He finished with 23 rushing attempts for 84 yards and a season high two touchdowns in the game.
Roddy White finally looked healthy after struggling all year with nagging injuries. It was vintage White. He had 10 catches for 143 yards in a commanding performance.
It was the first time this season in which the Falcons had a skill player at every position thriving in the same game and it made a big difference in the Falcons offensive output.
Defensively, the Falcons started off the game slowly, giving up consecutive rushing touchdowns to EJ Manuel and Fred Jackson. It looked like the Falcons were on the verge of getting blown out, until the Falcons started to answer after being down 14-0.
The rest of the game was an absolute shoot out in which seven different players all together from both teams scored touchdowns.
The game ended in heartbreaking fashion for the Bills. After being up 31-24 late in the 4th quarter, the Falcons drove down the field into the red zone. After Harry Douglas was called for illegal use of hands to the face, the Falcons were put in a 3rd and 16 position.
Ryan threw a deep ball to the end zone for Douglas in which he and CB Nickell Robey ran into each other, which looked completely incidental. But the officials gave the Falcons the pass interference call, and Steven Jackson punched in the touchdown on the next play to tie the game.
The Falcons also caught another break on the Bills next possession in which Stevie Johnson fumbled the ball in Falcons territory. If he had held on to it, the Bills would have been in great position to kick a game winning field goal. Instead, the Falcons recovered the ball and forced overtime.
The Bills had a severe case of deja vu in their first overtime possession in which they were driving down the field and fumbled the ball again. Robert Alford recovered the ball and he pitched the ball to Desmond Trufant who ran to around midfield.
Coach Mike Smith grabbed Robert Alford after the play and looked like he wanted to kiss him and kill him at the same time. It appeared he said, "Great play, but never do that again."
This set up the Falcons game winning drive in which Matt Bryant nailed a 36 yard field goal, and the Falcons celebrated as if they won the division.
As much talk as there has been about the Falcons should keep losing to ensure that they'd get the number one pick in the draft, it was nice to see them compete and win a game because of a great team effort.
Defensively, the Falcons secondary was the star of the game. Robert Alford in particular was all over his man all day, stride for stride, playing bump and run coverage. He was like a human blanket, and further made the case for Asante Samuel to be finding a new team after this season.
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