The Falcons may have finally turned the critics into believers after their 23-16 victory over defending Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos.
In last week’s game, the Falcons exposed the vulnerabilities of the Panthers secondary in route to an impressive 48-33 victory. This week’s game provided a much stiffer challenge, facing a Denver Broncos team that came in with very few weaknesses, if any at all.
In order to come out on the right side of the win column, the Falcons required a total team effort from all three phases. And that is exactly what Dan Quinn’s bunch delivered on Sunday, unseating the Broncos from the ranks of the unbeaten by a score of 23-16.
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The offense wasn’t particularly as crisp as in week’s past, but the balanced play-calling of Kyle Shanahan (32 runs to 28 passes) kept the Broncos fierce defense on their heels all day. Speaking of being on their heels, that is how Broncos rookie quarterback Payton Lynch spent the majority of his first professional start as the Falcons front four brought consistent pressure. Throw in a perfect day (3 for 3) from the field goal unit and that makes for a complete team win on the road.
So what can fans take away from Sunday’s victory versus the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos? Well, for one, the Atlanta Falcons are for real. Despite the thrashing of the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers last Sunday, the Falcons still had their share of critics this week, citing the anemic Panthers secondary as the reason for the Dirty Birds offensive outburst.
No such luxury presented itself this week against the Broncos vaunted “No Fly Zone” secondary. Kyle Shanahan decided to take a different approach to the game plan from last week’s and prove that there really is more than one way to skin a cat. In this pick your poison offense, it was the running backs that would do the Broncos in today.
Credit the coaching staff for seeing a potential chink in Denver’s defensive armor. The Broncos entered the game 21st in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (113.8). The Falcons eclipsed that mark with 122 on the ground, but it was the work the backs did matched up on the Broncos’ linebackers in the pass game that really stood out.
Tevin Coleman deserves a game ball for his effort in this one. Some wondered how effective the second year back out of Indiana would be today as he had to deal with his sickle cell trait in the difficult Denver altitude.
Coleman answered that question on the first drive with a 48 yard catch and run to set up the Falcons first touchdown. He would go on to have two more long gainers, one of which resulted in Tevin’s first career touchdown grab that put the Falcons up 20-3 in the third quarter.
The Falcons front four deserves a game ball as well. Long been criticized for their inability to get to the quarterback, the defensive linemen came up huge today, recording 6 sacks to go along with 8 total hits on Paxton Lynch.
Vic Beasley led the charge, filling up the stat sheet with 3.5 sacks, two QB hits, one tackle for loss, and two forced fumbles. One can only hope that this marks the turning point in the former 8th overall pick’s career. He and his teammates will be licking their chops next week as they square off against the Seattle Seahawk’s 32nd ranked offensive line, according to PFF.
After today’s victory, there’s no reason to believe the Falcons can’t go into Seattle and leave 2-0 on this ten day road trip. Quinn and his staff elected to keep the team out west and practice in Seattle this coming week as opposed to logging all those air miles. The decision should prevent the team from feeling jet lagged heading into the game and further strengthen the “brotherhood” bond that the players have been talking up lately.
One thing’s for sure. The Falcons proved today that they are a versatile football team capable of moving the ball on the stingiest of defenses. And as far as their defense is concerned, the pass rush will continue to dictate how far this team can go. If we see the same type of effort we have the last two weeks, this Falcons team should be feared as much as any other in the NFL.