by Mike Lederle
Breathe, Atlanta. In a must win game, the Falcons did just that, win. It doesn’t matter how or why. In 2017’s toughest NFL division, winning is everything.
For a second time this year, the Falcons found a way to win when Matt Ryan struggled with another three interception game (vs. Detroit was the other). To be clear, not all three interceptions were Ryan’s fault, but I’d rather not be on the side of finger pointing.
Finger pointing—the angle local media has taken against Falcons fans and the team in general. It hasn’t been a perfect season, few are, and there can only be one team in the end holding the trophy.
Falcons fans were out in force Thursday Night. We’ve heard about, and sometimes seen first hand, the empty seats. More often than not, those seats do fill in as the game progresses. Fans aren’t quick to settle in and get to their football watching each and every Sunday.
Here’s another ground breaking story in Atlanta—traffic moves slow, in case you haven’t heard.
Those fans that have ponied up for PSLs and dropped their hard earned money to watch Falcons football in the new Mercedes-Benz stadium have the right to be there, or to not be there. Resell your tickets to make a little money back, or enjoy every football game/event you are entitled to. It’s your choice. But enough about that.
Tip of the hat to the Falcons defense. That’s where this feel-good story begins and ends. It was the hard hitting, trash talking, snot bubbles popping type of performance the team needed: division football in a nutshell.
Deion Jones was there all night long. His speed was on display from the get go. Running down Ted Ginn, closing in on a hard, clean hit on Alvin Kamara. Keeping Willie Snead irrelevant on a sideline chase-down tackle. And then came the creme a la creme, the game clinching interception in the end zone. Talk about rising up! Jones floating with exceptional hang time to snag the Drew Brees pass was a thing of beauty.
The Falcons offense was moving, then not so much. Too many times we’ve discussed the unforced errors, or self-inflicted wounds in previous articles. The penalties, dropped passes, and interceptions: stop those please.
We had our Beauty (Deion Jones) discussed above, but on this night there was also the Beast (Matt Ryan). And not in a good way. Matty Ice can and will be better. No Ryan bashing, please. Keep it. This is the most productive quarterback in Atlanta Falcons history. He’s turned offensive coordinators into head coaches, more than once, and enjoyed postseason success. Oh yeah, he also has an MVP attached to his name. The benefit of the doubt is earned. Learn from your mistakes Ice Man, and the rest will fall into place.
It was also nice to see Devonta Freeman get back into a groove running the ball. Free had some solid runs while inflicting some pain on defensive players who chose to take him on. One Saint who seemed to have something to say to Freeman was head coach Sean Payton. Giving the choke sign, that then so conveniently slipped his mind in the postgame presser. Doesn’t recall, can’t remember, but we all know Payton has issues remembering (bounty gate). Stay classy, Sean.
These divisions games are what fans crave. These are the games that are circled on the schedule by players and fans alike. Devonta let an “Aints – lol” tweet surface postgame. Cameron Jordan stated “we’ll see them again in two weeks. Sean Payton, is well, Sean Payton. A good ole’ southern rivalry at its finest.
The Falcons now sit 2-1 within the division and remain in control of their own destiny. No scoreboard watching necessary, but of course any slip-ups by the teams close to, or slightly ahead of the Falcons is always welcome.
The bottom line is to keep winning, and the Falcons will be in the postseason party.
Jameis Winston and the Bucs will be wanting to eat a W come next Monday Night in Tampa Bay. The Falcons are also hungry, Jameis. So hungry in fact, that they’re ready to settle in for seconds and get that regular season sweep on the Buccaneers to keep the Falcons on their playoff flight path searching for their next prey.
Photo by the AJC