Falcons short takes: Defense, Ryan and an upset of Carolina

Falcons owner Arthur Blank and quarterback Matt Ryan celebrate ending Carolina's perfect season with a 20-13 victory at the Georgia Dome. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Falcons owner Arthur Blank and quarterback Matt Ryan celebrate ending Carolina’s perfect season with a 20-13 victory at the Georgia Dome. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

So there they are. The Falcons, who took their fans from a 6-1 start in their first seven games to 1-6 in the next seven, upset the previously unbeaten Carolina Panthers 20-13 Sunday at the Georgia Dome. My column on the game will appear soon on MyAJC.com.

Below are my “three short” takes on the game:

1 Back from the dead: Yes, this mattered, whether it was going to propel the Falcons to an unlikely playoff berth or not. The Falcons’ six-game losing streak pretty much obliterated their postseason hopes but that didn’t render the last three games of the season meaningless. A number of roster and potential front office and coaching staff decisions will be based on their finish. For that reason, the last two weeks are a good sign. The Falcons didn’t play great in last week’s win at Jacksonville, but they made big plays on both sides of the ball. Their performance in an upset of Carolina was their best of the season, given the backdrop of the two teams and what happened two weeks ago in Charlotte (Panthers 38, Falcons 0). A win like this doesn’t mean everything is right. But maybe it reaffirms that not everything is wrong.

2. Abused Draft Picks Alert: Falcons second-year defensive tackle Ra’Sheed Hageman and rookie end Vic Beasley have been two of the team’s more maligned players during their brief tenure, but both were outstanding against Carolina. Beasley had a sack/strip of Cam Newton to clinch the game (the strip was recovered by Adrian Clayborn, and he and Hageman both had good pressure on Newton. Overall, the defense held Carolina to 268 yards in offense and only 188 yards and two field goals after the Panthers drove to a touchdown on the opening drive of the game. So it’s time to pull a few darts out of some players’ pictures.

3. Matt Ryan making amends: Ryan has had arguably the worst season of his career but he finished strong against Jacksonville and he saved his best game of year for the Falcons’ best opponent: 23 for 30 for 306 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions (rating: 119.6). Ryan charged with a fumble when he failed to handle a bad snap from center Mike Person, who continues to struggle (Devonta Freeeman earlier recovered a bad snap from Person). Ryan also had a nifty seven-year run on a third-and-2 to set up a touchdown, played in pain from a hit he took on that run and helped the Falcons’ offense convert nine-of-15 third down situations. This was the quarterback the Falcons have been looking for.

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11 comments
tyger
tyger

What it all means?


A winning season matters...

8-8/9-7 is 2-3 game improvement...

Playoff absence amplified by 0-6 slide...


Prolly takes 10 wins to make playoffs...

Nobody had Falcons winning 10 games...

Again, 0-6 slide only makes one wonder...


Bigger Question:

Is CAR win a result of improvement or...

Just one of those Division rivalry games?


Like NO next week, rivalries a bit different...

Teams play harder regardless of record...


My take:

ATL can beat anybody...

If QB doesn't throw game away...

Coaches nor GMs throw INTs...




Ficklefan
Ficklefan

A fluke, no more, no less, which happens more often than not when the lesser team enters the fray at home,with a chip on its shoulder and something to prove (after being completely drubbed and totally embarrassed in the last contest), and the far better team is playing away and is way over confident and mentally unprepared for the game. 


Hopefully, the Falcons will not take this for any thing more than it was - a complete and total fluke - and they will continue to maintain focus on the mountain that they have to climb in order to become a true NFL contender - in their big, brand new, unnecessary stadium that would not exist except for the tax payer extortion game which the NFL  and MLB have perfected - i.e. No Pay - No Stay. 

Peachs
Peachs

Why now do we throw to White?  Why didn't Newton run the five yards to continue the drive, after the Falcons literally give the game back to them.  With billions of dollars at stake I am beginning to wonder what is manipulated in this entertainment venue. Too much circus too little substance. 

CardiganBoy
CardiganBoy

@Peachs Fortunately (for Falcon fans) we won.  But that last series before the fumble would have been catastrophic if the Panthers had been able to capitalize on our incredible blunders: a series of penalties that not only took the offense in the wrong direction; they also preserved the clock for Carolina.


The announcers barely took note of the meltdown; they though the game was over. And the guys in the production trailer were occupied with imposing images of the Family Blank rejoicing on the sidelines.  


Had we lost the game - and it was possible right up until the D pulled our bacon out of the fire on the strip sack, it would have been one of the most ignoble defeats in Falcon history.


And we would have had to endure Newton's self-aggrandizing histrionics for the second time in three games.  This one in our own building.


'Scuze me.  I think I need to go throw up.

python's monty
python's monty

One game nor a couple of big plays makes two draft picks a success.  Don't get me wrong, I like seeing the production - I just think it's time for TD to be gone...

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

They don't belong in the playoffs, but the last two wins is a step in the right direction. Also some offensive line help and some real playmakers on defense would go a long way.

McGarret
McGarret

Can these birds sneak into the playoffs and peak for a run at title?

Bearrib1
Bearrib1

Carolina came into this game with one of the most arrogant attitudes I've ever seen.  They were flying high on cloud nine while the Falcons were still stinging from the drubbing they got from the kitties two weeks ago.  You could see this victory coming.

Countryboy40
Countryboy40

First? So is this more of Carolina not taking us serious or the Falcons trying to salvage their season?