The Atlanta Falcons game last night against the Jacksonville Jaguars was the best team game they have played all year. From the very beginning of the game until the starters left in the fourth quarter, the Falcons absolutely controlled every aspect of this game. Matt Ryan and the offense had a huge game as they put up 34 points on their own, but the defense is what impressed me the most. In the last six quarters of football, the Falcons defense has performed better than they have all year. They provided pressure on the quarterback, forced turnovers and even scored a defensive touchdown. If the Falcons want to go deep into the playoffs, they are going to need the defense to keep playing at this level.
In the last game and a half that the falcons have played, they have given up a total of seven points, keep in mind that the first touchdown the Jags scored was on a blocked punt which the defense had no chance to stop. Starting in the second half of Sundays game with the Panthers, the Falcons have given up a grand total of 206 yards passing to opposing quarterbacks. That is an average of just over 100 passing yards a game, well below their season average. They have forced six turnovers, three fumbles and three interceptions. They have forced seven sacks, five against the Jags alone, and they have scored one defensive touchdown during that span. If the defense keeps playing like this, the Falcons are gonna be big trouble for their opponents in the playoffs because the offense has proven with the last two games that it can score with anyone.
One player that stepped up big time in last nights game is John Abraham. All throughout the game he tormented Jags rookie QB Blaine Gabbert. The veteran defensive end finished the game with 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. One of those fumbles was returned for a touchdown by fellow defensive lineman Corey Peters. Abraham had, no doubt, his best game this season. Abraham is going to be a key piece of the puzzle if the Falcons intend on making it to the Super Bowl because most of the teams ahead of them are pass first kind of teams. The three teams that the Falcons will most likely have to face in the playoffs are the Giants, Saints, and Packers. All three of these teams have quarterbacks that are on pace for over 5,000 yards passing. And if Atlanta wants to beat them, they are gonna need big games like this one from John Abraham as well as others.
The Falcons also have been a lot more disciplined as of late and have not committed as many penalties has they did earlier in the year. In the last two games, the Falcons have only committed nine total penalties for 81 yards. That is an average of four and a half penalties for forty and a half yards per game.
Another tidbit of information that I would like to point out is that the defense has done all this without the help of pro-bowl cornerback Brent Grimes who is arguably the teams best cover corner. Once Grimes comes back from injury it will be interesting to see if he can provide the same amount of coverage and jumping ability that we have come to expect from him on a weekly basis.
The next big game for the Falcons is against the rival New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football next week. This is going to be a big game because depending on the outcome of this game, it will show the league how serious the Falcons will be as a Super Bowl contender.