Falcons vs. Lions – Who Earned Their Wings


Dec 22, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (84) catches a touchdown pass while being pursued by Detroit Lions cornerback Chris Houston (23) during the first quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the Atlanta Falcons who had the biggest impact in their win over the Detroit Lions:

Quarterback Matt Ryan: Ryan was simply phenomenal. He completed his first 12 passes of the game, and going into halftime was 15-17 for 184 yards a 3 touchdowns. He trailed off in the second half (note the sarcasm), and finished the day 25-32 for 279 yards and 4 touchdown passes. That’s the first time he’s done that this season, and it’s good for a passer rating of 142.58. That’s a solid enough day, but Ryan also tied some records, and made some of his own. Ryan set a career high with both his 30th and 31st TD passes on the day, and 31 tied an Atlanta Falcons single-season franchise record with Steve Bartkowski. Ryan had a marvelous day.

Wide receiver Roddy White: Talk about marvelous days, White sure as heck had one. 8 catches for 153 yards and a pair of touchdowns is outstanding. He showed a little bit of everything, running down the field, catching the screen pass, being a physical receiver, and his athleticism. And all this from a guy who was a game-time decision. I’d say the decision to play him was a good one.

WR Julio Jones: Jones is a wonderful complement to White, and couldn’t be learning from a better mentor. But he has an elite skill set on his own account, and he put them on display on his 16-yard touchdown catch. Really, he earned his wings on that solitary catch. The ability to get past his defender, catch the ball with his hand at the highest point, and still getting both feet just inches inside the endzone is spectacular. A perfectly placed throw, and an even better catch. Julio Jones is special.

CB Asante Samuel: Samuel has been very consistent for the Falcons. Many of the lapses in judgement that end with large gains down the field haven’t been there this season. Samuel has been very good, and that certainly didn’t change. He made a big tackle on Calvin Johnson early in the game that saved a touchdown, and in the second half Samuel jumped in front of a pass intended for Johnson and came down with the interception. Those two plays alone earned his wings. Continued great play from Samuel, taking the pressure off the offense, and allowing this team to just go out and play ball.

Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter: Koetter called a magnificent game up in Detroit, especially in the first half. He turned the game over to Matt Ryan, asked him to make several throws with high degrees of difficulty, and was rewarded for his trust in Ryan. The two play-calls that stand out in my mind are the first touchdown to Roddy White, which came out of a two-running back, two tight end formation and took a deep shot down the field to the only wide receiver. The other play that stood out was White’s second TD catch. The fake pitch to Jacquizz Rodgers to the right and the quick screen to White on the left side is huge. The first call is really ballsy, but paid off really well. The second is simply very pretty and creative play calling. Good job by Koetter, he’s certainly earning his keep around Atlanta.