Your 2012 Atlanta Falcons have perfected something my Fantasy Football team has never done before: winning while playing poorly. The Falcons needed a fumble recovery brought back to the two yard line, a defensive touchdown and three sacks by John Abraham to overcome an ineffective offense and arm-tackling defense in the 23-20 win over the Raiders.
Ray Edwards finally making a play? You knew it would be a weird day.
Nothing like a win to put a bad taste in your mouth. Oakland was the better team but Atlanta made plays and tightened up when it mattered. A more in-depth look after the jump.
Atlanta allowed both Darren McFadden and Carson Palmer their 2nd best performances (yardage wise) of the year. Denarius Moore moved the ball at will with about as many yards as Julio and Gonzo combined. Matt Ryan was under constant pressure after the Raiders played a bit of desperation football and went blitz heavy. The Raiders, having zero interceptions on the year, picked off Matt Ryan three times. Michael Turner was ineffective again piling up 3.0 YPC. The Atlanta defense relied on poor Oakland execution to stop the Raiders more than good coverage and run defense. Atlanta was outplayed and outperformed statistically, with six less first downs, almost two hundred less yards and an atrocious 2/9 on third down conversions.
Yet Atlanta won and made plays when it mattered. Matt Bryant narrowly missed a 43 yard field goal in the 1st quarter but nailed a 55 yard game winner. Ryan hit Falcons receivers for short passes to set up that final field goal. The Raiders helped thanks to their 12 penalties and a few well timed turnovers.
Akeem Dent is terrible. All I can say for sure if the Falcons will have their hands full during this bye week tightening up defensive tackling and weak offensive line play. The time off should give Stephen Nicholas time to heal up and hopefully keep Akeem Dent far away from the football field. Dent played so poorly, frequently taking terrible angles and failing to tackle, I have forgotten how mediocre Michael Turner was in running the ball.
Matt Ryan's interceptions were not too bad. Dent was so bad I almost forgotten to mention Matt Ryan's uncharacteristic turnovers. As I saw it, the pass intended for Harry Douglas in the first quarter was just a terrible decision and thrown behind Harry Douglas. The next interception, intended for Julio Jones near the goal line, should probably be split between Ryan and Julio. The pass was not great as it was really underthrown by Ryan. A bit more strength on it and it would have been out of reach of the secondary. However, Julio needs to understand when to go for the catch and when to tip it away from the defender. Jones dropped for the catch not thinking Michael Huff would be going for the ball. Jones still has these plays where we see he is still a young player and this was one of them. Ryan was slammed on his third pick, sending the ball sailing far away from Tony Gonzalez. That is one of those plays that will happen regardless of quarterback.
This team has a lot of work left to do. Atlanta cannot expect to continue winning by playing only a quarter or two of football. After all, they were definitely outplayed at home against a one win team. Going into a bye week we cannot say they were stuck looking ahead to next week, unless they have been scouting out vacation spots. The Falcons need to make significant changes before the big game against Michael Vick and the Eagles on the 28th.