Dec 9, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) is sacked by Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Frank Kearse (99) as defensive end Charles Johnson (95) helps defend in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
If I had to choose one word to describe Atlanta’s performance this past Sunday, I would certainly use the word ‘Flat’…I’ll even post the definition.
Flat- Lacking in animation, zest, or vigor
I didn’t see any emotion out there on the field, at least not from Atlanta. It’s about as uninspired a performance as I’ve seen from the Falcons since…Since the dreaded 2-point performance against the Giants in the playoffs. To be honest, I’m happy the Falcons got their butt handed to them this game. A loss like that should be used as an example of how NOT to play football. Arthur Blank’s team did not display a ‘winning spirt’ when they stepped out on the field at Bank Of America stadium.
For a team that has a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball, they’ve sure had a hard time putting up points lately. This was an offense I expected to score a lot of touchdown, and while Atlanta started off hot, it seems as if defenses have them figured out how to slow them down. This loss taught me that for the Falcons to make the run at the SB, they have to play total team football at their absolute best.
The Panthers on the other hand, now know that inspired football is what makes a talented team a tough team. They’ll be a different kind of beast next year if they can hire a coach in the offseason who knows how to will his team to win.
Cam Newton had his best performance of the season this past Sunday. He threw for 287 yards with 2 touchdowns and ran for 116 and 1 score, including a 72-yard scamper to the end-zone. But, his stats weren’t the only thing I liked about how he played. Last year, while Cam put up amazing rookie stats, I thought he was similar to a ‘Black Hole’.’Black Hole’ is a term some used to characterize Allen Iverson during his last few years in Philly and his tenure in Denver. A.I. would put up amazing stats and flashy performances but at the end of the day, what did it matter if his team didn’t win the games? It was almost like he sucked the confidence out of his team instead of instilling it in his team mates.
Cam played the game with a Diva-like attitude and was recently called out by his teammates for it. Now, I feel he’s starting to mature as a football player and a human being. He played with a lot of heart on Sunday, and his team rallied behind his performance. Carolina will try to build on this win by using this game as a blueprint of how to play NFL football. Tough, inspired, and with a will to win.
Now, back to my Falcons. The main reason they loss this game was time of possession. They only had the ball 3 times in the entire first-half. The offense couldn’t build any momentum and the defense couldn’t get off the field on third-down. Matt Ryan threw for 300 yards and 2 tds in the second-half, but it was too little to late. The Panthers built too big of a lead for the Falcons to get back into the game.
Atlanta ‘bend but don’t break’ philosophy hurt them this game. They give up a lot of yards but have done a good job of keeping teams out of the end-zone. But, that philosophy allowed Carolina to eat up the clock. Cam and Co. converted 9 out of 15 first downs, and it wore the defense out in the first half. The defense has to work on getting off the field on third-down and we have to do it before they get in field-goal range. You can keep teams out of the end-zone but those field-goals can add up. Every point will matter in the playoffs, where 3 points can give a team as much momentum as a TD.
The Falcons need to learn from this loss and put it behind them quickly. They have huge game coming up against the hot-like-fire Giants. Eli and his G-Men just stomped the Saints, and every game for the remainder of their season is must-win. The Giants play excellent football late in the season, especially with their backs against the wall. The Falcons next two games in my opinion are must-win. Atlanta needs to lock-up the top NFC seed, and they need to look good doing it. Building momentum for the playoffs starts now.
Stay tuned for the New York Giants vs. Atlanta Falcons preview…