In what was easily the wildest game of the the Falcons' season, the good guys found a way to pull out a crazy victory. There were a combined eight turnovers, which consisted of three interceptions and six fumbles between the two teams. During one stretch in the first half, there were three back to back to back plays that consisted of lost fumbles leading to turnovers.
When two teams meet up who are a combined 6-20, this is what you get.
The first half started great for the Falcons, who beat down the punchless Redskins by jumping out to a 14-0 lead on their first two possessions, These two drives featured healthy helpings of Steven Jackson and Tony Gonzalez who capped off the first and second drives respectively with touchdowns.
Gonzalez led all Falcons players in receptions and yards with six receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown. Gonzalez had a historic day. On his fifth reception, he eclipsed the 15,000 yard receiving mark for his career. He became the first tight end to do so in the history of the NFL. He joins Jerry Rice, Terrel Owens, Randy Moss and Isaac Bruce as the only players in NFL history to record at least 15,000 yards receiving.
Jackson did not have the most productive day, despite starting out very strong. He finished with 15 yards rushing for 38 yards and two touchdowns.
But Kirk Cousins would answer. After a week that was marred in controversy with Redskins coach Mike Shanahan benching franchise QB Robert Griffin III in favor of playing Cousins, the second year man would answer the call. At least for the first half.
Cousins finished with a line of 29/45 for 381 yards and three touchdowns. He also had two interceptions, but after the first drive for the Redskins resulted in a fumble, he turned it on.
He led the Redskins on four scoring drives in the half. When they weren't turning the ball over, the Redskins were scoring points. This turned a 14-0 deficit into a 20-17 lead heading into half time. Pierre Garcon was a terror and wreaked havoc on the Falcons' secondary, recording seven receptions for 129 yards and a touchdown.
But the Falcons made some second half adjustments and came out swinging in the third quarter. They held the Redskins to no points and forced an interception (recorded by William Moore), and multiple three and outs. The Falcons would record a touchdown following the interception, via Steven Jackson's second touchdown of the day. This was redemption in many ways for Jackson who was stopped at the goal line on fourth down, causing the Falcons to turn the ball over on downs on their previous drive.
The Redskins had a chance to tie the game and force overtime after a long drive recorded by Cousins led to a Redskins touchdown. Down 27-26 with 18 seconds left, Shanahan elected to go for the two point conversion for the win. But on the play, Cousins' pass was deflected by Desmond Trufant, and the ball fell harmlessly to the turf.
Matt Ryan took another beating. Despite only being sacked three times, Ryan was hitting the turf constantly via bad pass protection. Ryan finished 29/38 for 210 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Ryan didn't have too many long passes, and instead took a much more conservative approach by dinking and dunking his way through the Redskins' defense.
The key to the game really was the Falcons slowing down the Redskins offensive attack in the third quarter to really throw them out of their rhythm. Also, the turnovers were a huge factor in putting the Falcons in a better position to score points. The Redskins turned the ball over seven times (five fumbles and two interceptions).
So the Falcons may have lost the battle to get a better draft pick, but they gave Falcons fans another heart attack, and a rare victory to improve to 4-10 on the season in one of the craziest games ever seen at the Georgia Dome.
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