The Atlanta Falcons played the always hated divisional rival Carolina Panthers at the dome for the seasons’ home opener and the Falcons pulled out a much needed win in front of the home faithful. The defense stood tall and saved the team in the final seconds. The offense did their best 2016 Falcons impression and scored 31 points, which marks the first time Atlanta scored 30 points or more since Week 11 last year against the Bucs.
“Last night took an L, but tonight I bounce back.”-Big Sean
Ice On Fire
Matt Ryan silenced his critics as he bounced from a rough game in Philly going 23 for 28 for 272 yards and two touchdowns. Additionally, Ryan also did his best Cam Newton impression and tacked on two, yes TWO, rushing touchdowns making this his first time he’s accomplished this feat. Ryan looked way more comfortable throwing the ball compared to last week where he looked like a deer in the headlights. Ryan once again proved he is a top 5 quarterback in the league and will look to continue on this play.
Offense Flies High
If you remember on my previous article, I stated that I hoped that the play-calling and execution would get better. Ask and you shall receive I suppose.
Like I previously said Matt Ryan looked way better and comfortable compared to last week. Highly touted rookie wide receiver Calvin Ridley caught his first NFL touchdown as he received a 11 yard strike from Ryan in the second quarter and finished the game with four catches for 64 yards and a TD. Tevin Coleman showed he could carry(hehe) the run game as he had 16 carries for 107 yards while 2018 fourth round selection Ito Smith did solid work as well minus a near fumble. The area where the improvement was most obvious was in the red zone. The bane of the Falcons’ existence the past year and a half turned into fundamentals as they made mince meat of the Carolina red zone defense. The Falcons went a perfect 4 for 4 but what’s better is that all red zone trips ended in seven points for the Dirty Birds.
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Defense Hangs On
The biggest question mark coming into the game was how would this defense hold without its’ two main stars. It wasn’t pretty but they stood tall. They didn’t play a great game necessarily but they came in clutch when it mattered. It didn’t help that safety Demontae Kazee was ejected early in the game because of an awful hit he laid upon Cam Newton. No one is perfect but my goodness Duke Riley still looks like he can’t play the game of football and Vic Beasley did nothing to silence his haters.
The secondary and at moments the defensive line made up for it. Just when Carolina was starting to get into a groove, tight end Ian Thomas bobbled a good throw from Newton(rare I know) and safety Ricardo Allen pounced on the opportunity and got the INT. The D-Line was a bit lackluster especially due to the fact that the Panthers’ offensive line was decimated by injuries but defensive end Takk McKinley came up with a huge sack late in the game. All in all, they played a little better than I thought they would. However, players like linebackers Duke Riley and Vic Beasley have got to step it up or else they could fine themselves in the unemployment line rather sooner than later.
The Final Word
The Saints come marching in to Atlanta next week and it will be a close one. Although the Aints looked rather terrible against a struggling Cleveland Browns team and was a good kicker away from losing the game they will make this interesting. The only concern I have is the defense, particularly Vic and Duke. New Orleans will no doubt look at film of the Panthers-Falcons game of last week and plan on how they can take advantage of them two. All in all, it’s been fun writing for you guys this week. Have a great rest of your day and remember to always RISE UP!