September 23, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones (11) catches a touchdown pass while being defended by San Diego Chargers cornerback Quentin Jammer (23) during the second quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

Falcons vs. Chargers – Who Earned Their Wings


Every week I choose the five Atlanta Falcons who had the biggest impact upon the game, and really changed the outcome of the game. Here are the ‘Fab Five’ who made the Falcons look fantastic:

Quarterback Matt Ryan– Ryan is absolutely in the middle of the early NFL MVP discussion. The guy threw 3 touchdowns against a very good San Diego defense, and used countless calls at the line of scrimmage to change into good or better plays, and the Falcons offense rolled. The ball placement was impeccable by Ryan, and he looked totally locked in. Completing 75% of your passes and posting a passer rating of 107 certainly gives statistical evidence that Matt Ryan is playing very well.

Safety Thomas DeCoud– The young safety tandem of the Atlanta Falcons look like defensive cornerstones. Last week William Moore played out of his mind, and today was DeCoud’s turn to look great. DeCoud had two interceptions, a massive pass breakup in the end-zone, and three tackles. DeCoud was part of the defense that made life absolutely miserable for Philip Rivers and the Chargers. The Chaos defense is wreaking havoc, and DeCoud is integral to it.

Wide Receiver Julio Jones– Jones is a game changer, and it became even more obvious when Jones wasn’t in the game. After a 19-yard catch to start the game, Jones missed a full quarter with a hand injury. He not only came back, but was a force when he returned to the game. He only registered four more catches for 48 yards, but one of them was a 9-yard touchdown where he had to snatch the ball out of the air, at its highest point, in the back of the endzone. More importantly, he made everyone around him much more effective due to his ability to draw attention to the defense.

Running Backs Jacquizz Rodgers & Michael Turner– Turner had been having an absolutely miserable first two and a half weeks of the season after having a good number of touches with little to show, a DUI, and most of Atlanta calling for his immediate removal from the team. Turner came out with 14 carries for 80 yards and a touchdown, and proved that he is still valuable for posing a run threat and gaining solid positive yardage. Jacquizz Rodgers also had a big game, and he proved to be a great safety valve for Ryan in the passing game, as well as pass-protection and running the ball. Don’t forget he was crucial on the Falcons first score catching a screen pass where he did most of the leg work, and also caught a 8-yard touchdown pass. Good work by these two on the day.

Tight End Tony Gonzalez– Gonzalez was so incredibly outstanding for the Falcons today. This might be one of his finest performances in a Falcons uniform. He was constantly open at short, intermediate, and deep levels, and catching balls in traffic and in space. 9 catches for 91 yards and a red-zone touchdown is great production, and if a defense is going to concede passes to Gonzalez, you better believe Ryan was willing to take it. Not only did Ryan get the ball to Gonzalez, but Tony did all the work that was necessary to get open and move the chains in crucial situations.

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