To use the old English cliche, it certainly was a game of two halves when the Falcons and Vikings met on Sunday afternoon.
At halftime, the Falcons were cruising and looked in total control being 17-0 ahead. Dominant drives from the Falcons offense made it look easy against a Vikings defense that struggled to pressure Matt Ryan. Svitek in particular had a terrific game not allowing Jared Allen anywhere near Ryan for the entire game.
Despite the Falcons feeling comfortable, they were given several injury concerns on Defense. CB Brent Grimes left the game with the re aggravation of the knee injury that had made him questionable in the first place for the game. Dunta Robinson and Stephen Nicholas both also spent time on the bench through injury.
These injuries on top of CB Kelvin Hayden being out stretched the Falcons very thin in the secondary. In the second half this lack of depth started to hurt the Falcons. A long pass play from Ponder to Harvin, should have be cut out by Franks and Owens who were both right next to the receiver. That mistake by the Falcons secondary quickly cost the Falcons 7 points as Toby Gerhart powered his way into the end zone.
Several drives later, the Vikings were set to punt away the ball and their momentum late in the third quarter. On the return the ball hit an unsuspecting Franks allowing the Vikings to jump on the ball and create a turnover on the Falcons own 30 yard line. Despite being placed in a hole the Falcons did a nice job putting the Vikings back into a long 4th and 13. The Vikings decided to roll the dice and go for it, with a deep throw to Percy Harvin. Why was Curtis Lofton covering Harvin? I have no idea. The speed mismatch resulted in Percy Harvin making a nice catch in the back of the endzone and drawing the Vikings back within 3 at 17-14.
On the ensuing drive, the Falcons “bucked up” driving the ball down the field thanks to the terrific play of QB Matt Ryan and WR Roddy White, who played his most complete game of the season. The Falcons ended the drive with a 3 yard TD throw to TE Michael Palmer to seemingly kill of the game at 24-14 with less than 5 minutes to play.
However, Percy Harvin had something to say about that busting a 104 yard return off the resulting kickoff that nearly resulted in a touchdown if it wasn’t for the efforts of Chris Owens, tackling him inside the Falcons 5 yard line. The much ridiculed Falcon came up big, and prevented as it turned out 7 points. The Vikings, were unable to do anything with the ball inside the Falcons 5 yard line. The last ditch attempt was a 4th and goal from the Falcons 2 yard line. A simple run up the middle with Gerhart was completely snuffed out and shut down by the incredible Sean Weatherspoon, that forced a turnover on downs.
With 3 minutes or so to go, the Falcons were able to close the game down thanks to a heroic effort from Jacquzz Rodgers, shedding blockers and earning a game clinching first down.
While the 2nd half performance was far from perfect the Falcons did what needed to be done and secured the win.
Now sitting in the final wild card spot at 7-4. They look to continue winning against tough AFC opponent Houston Texans, who could be starting TJ Yates at Quarterback, as both Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart could both be out through injury.