Was Troy Polamalulu in Robert Alford’s jersey? Or did Devin Hester went back in time and transformed himself into the 2011 self? Vince Wilfork was in the game for Paul Soliali, correct? All jokingness aside, the Atlanta Falcons truly did look like a different team from special teams to defense.
A week ago, they took a serious beating from the Houston Texans. All hopes of making the playoffs seemed unlikely, as some fans even stated that “the Falcons better get ready for another beating on Saturday.”
And please, don’t consider this game to be a loss. In the regular season, the third stringers that lost the game won’t be in the game. A preseason game is a succesful game if several players can show they could make an impact in the “real” games.
It seemed as if all of Atlanta’s defensive and offensive problems were obsolete. Where do we start?
Julio Jones had a much better performance than his poor preseason debut last week since his injury. His foot didn’t seem to bother him at all, as he soared through the stadium, catching 2 receptions for 63 yards with a touchdown. And if you missed that touchdown, or just want to see a fantastic football play, here it is.
Matt Ryan looked like his usual self, throwing to his unlimited amount of weapons that he holds this season. One weapon is Devin Hester.
Hester had a monster first half. He ran with blazing speed around the field, even catching a 31 yard touchdown pass while breaking (not literally) Jason McCourty’s ankles on the way. He also had an impressive 47 yard kickoff return.
Hester, Ryan, and Jones are all not “eyebrow raise” worthy. It is not a huge surprise that these three were successful in this contest, but there was a player that surprised every single NFL fan around the world. How about Lamar Holmes? Holmes was critizied his whole career in Atlanta, being labeled a “bust” of the 2012 NFL Draft.
“Its a 3 way battle for the right tackle spot, Lamar Holmes will start today” — Blogging Dirty (@BloggingDirty) August 23, 2014
As you can see above, I mentioned on my Twitter that head coach Mike Smith stated that it is a three way battle for that right tackle spot after the Sam Baker injury, which shows that even the coaching staff wasn’t sold on Holmes. To be honest, I was tempted to trade away Matt Ryan in my fantasy league after hearing he would probably start at tackle. Thank God that I didn’t. Holmes held his own in pass blocking, not allowing a single pressure to Matt Ryan. And when Jacquizz Rodgers was dazzling his way through the line of scrimmage, many didn’t see Lamar paving the way. This is very good news for the Atlanta Falcons.
— Aaron Freeman (@falcfans) August 21, 2014
I concur. RT @ATLSportsNate: I must admit Lamar Holmes is solid at RT
— Aaron Freeman (@falcfans) August 24, 2014
On the defensive side, Paul Soliai showed that he can lead this run defense in a huge way. Soliai held his own and helped the Falcons dominate the line of scrimmage most of the game. In one play, he even bull rushed the guard into Jake Locker and saved a potential touchdown.
In the secondary, Robert Alford had his ups and downs during the game, but most of his play was very good. Alford was flying around the field all game, and it seemed as if he had a magnetic force toward the ball. Keep in mind that there are very high hopes for Alford. He was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2013 NFL Draft, which means there are a lot of eyes focused on him.
The pass rush was in full showing. Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan frequently sent blitzes, but even when extra defenders weren’t coming after the quarterbacks, there was a defensive lineman that stood out. (Just for giggles, remember the two man pass rush that got to Jake Locker?) Jonathan Babineaux was frequently bullying his way in the backfield. My stat sheet recorded four quarterback pressures, which is impressive considering he was barely on the field in the second half.
The game, obviously, wasn’t all positives. It was a loss after all! Maurice Hagans had an unnecessary roughness call, which led to an ejection. Penalties plagued the Falcons all night, as they struggled to get off the field not because of their play, but because of the penalties. But keep in mind that all this occurred mostly when the backups were in in the second half. So cheer up Rise Up Nation! It was a good day.