Look at all those happy faces. The Atlanta Falcons soared their way to a 38-32 victory over the rival Saints on Sunday and it was glorious.
The Atlanta Falcons had a lot to play for coming into this weekend’s game. Most notably, Atlanta had a chance to seize control of the NFC’s 2nd seed and a coveted first-round bye. Thanks to a first-half offensive masterpiece orchestrated by Matt Ryan; Atlanta accomplished what they set out to do.
Sunday afternoon was a culmination of how well the Falcons have played this year. The first half performance (35 points and scoring on every single drive) was something to behold. The New Orleans Saints defense simply had no answer for Kyle Shanahan’s well-oiled machine.
The Falcons got conservative in the second half and allowed the Saints to mislead many into thinking they played a close game. But all in all, Week 17 was another great-Atlanta performance and a nice way to end the Georgia Dome’s regular season tenure.
Moving onto some of the theme’s of the 11th win…
“MattVP” Volume 2
Still not convinced that Matt Ryan deserves the MVP? I recommend watching the first half of yesterday’s game on a loop, until you come to your senses. Ryan has performed better than any other quarterback this season and Sunday was no exception.
On Sunday, Ryan finished his regular season by completing 27 of 36 passes for 331 yards and 4 touchdowns. It has been clear all season that he is on a mission to play great and take his team to new heights. Thanks to that play on the field this year, the Atlanta Falcons have a legitimate chance to make a run at the Super Bowl. That alone should be enough to secure Ryan the league MVP award.
Vic Beasley: NFL Sack King
The game started off on a scary note as Vic Beasley left for the locker room with an apparent left shoulder injury. Thankfully, “Beastly” returned and notched his NFL leading 15.5 sack, edging out Von Miller for the sack crown.
Vic has been the best player on the Atlanta defense and has made a strong case for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Getting to the opposing quarterback and causing havoc will be key in the playoffs. Having Beasley in midst of a career season will do wonders for the Atlanta Falcons in January.
Defense improving as a whole
This particular defense will never be the strength of the Atlanta Falcons, but that’s okay. They have drastically improved their play over the past few weeks and did plenty to give the Falcons a chance to win yesterday. Jalen Collins‘ interception in the endzone and Keanu Neal‘s (record) 5th fumble were just a couple of the highlights.
The Saints did score 32 points, but it took a few “garbage-time” touchdowns and the Falcons playing it safe. Some will be alarmed by the second half of yesterday’s game. I’ll say Dan Quinn knew the clock was on his side throughout.
If Atlanta’s defense can continue to pin their ears back and force turnovers, they will succeed in the postseason. Keep an eye on them going forward.
One of the small concerns that developed from this game was injuries. I mentioned Beasley’s scare early on, but there were also numerous players that went down with minor injuries. Thankfully, no injury seemed to be too serious or pose a threat to the Falcons playoff hopes.
A huge positive is having the now guaranteed bye week before Atlanta’s first playoff game. This will allow for some much needed rest and recovery before the postseason gauntlet begins. A lot of credit goes to Dan Quinn for not coaching scared yesterday in terms of personnel usage.
More from Blogging Dirty
Yesterday marked the last regular season game in the Georgia Dome’s history. Former Atlanta Falcons such as Michael Vick and Roddy White were in attendance and honored the Dome at halftime. It seemed like the building was rocking from the get-go.
This is huge going forward for Atlanta. Home field advantage might not be that important, but it’s always nice to have. Atlanta will have to make this opportunity count because they are now only two wins away from reaching the elusive Super Bowl. Let’s all hope they can cap this magical season by hoisting the NFC Championship trophy in the friendly confines of the Dome, one last time.
This regular season seemed to fly by just like the interesting year that was 2016. After the dust has settled we now have a clear picture of the NFL Playoffs. Perched up at the top we see our beloved Atlanta Falcons standing neck and neck with the NFC leading Dallas Cowboys. Who would have thought this team would be where they are now?
I for one didn’t see this coming.