The Atlanta Falcons did what that had to do to give themselves their best chance in the tournament. They earned a bye defeating the New Orleans Saints in their last regular season in the Georgia Dome next year they will be playing at the all new plush Mercedes Benz House. The bye gives them a chance to enjoy the moment and allow some physical wounds to heal.
The Falcon defense started the game as if they meant business holding the Saints to a quick three and out. The offense hit field on fire getting to pay dirt on the second series in just four quick plays covering 68 yards on a Matt Ryan to T. Coleman 7 yard touchdown pass. They went on to score four more times making five touchdowns on first five possessions taking the lead into halftime 35-13.
Matt Ryan on getting off to such a good start offensively:
“For us, I thought offensively we did about as good as we can do in the first half in terms of the result. There were even things that we could clean up in terms of penalties, etc. where we can get a little bit better and some things that we can control. I thought the effort, the intent, the mindset was exactly what you want from your team and was proud of the way our guys started the game. I think we could have been a little bit better in the second half. Offensively, we had some opportunities to keep going and maybe score some more points to put the game away a little bit earlier. That will be something that we can clean up.”
Devonte Freeman provided the second touchdown by darting off the right tackle for a 75 yard dash. That drive was one play in eleven seconds.
Free on the long touchdown run:
“The defensive back was on the outside, he was outside of the tackles, so I could not hit it outside. Our offensive linemen created a hole gave me extra time, created an opportunity for me, and I just took it.”
The third touchdown was four plays for 75 yards. That one ended with a familiar combination Matt Ryan to Julio for a one yard touchdown pass.
The scoring machine slowed on number four it took 10 plays to go 76 yards this time M. Sanu reeled in the 10 yard touchdown pass.
They shifted to another gear popping out number five in 9 plays covering 75 yards this time a 7 yard touchdown pass went to J. Hardy.
Coach Quinn explained the formula for the first half success “we have a term ‘trust your training, trust your teammate, and trust yourself’. That’s how we put it all into the week and then at the end of the week we try to empty that bucket out and go for it in every single fashion. I was particularly pleased at the beginning. We use the term ‘set it off’ so to have a good three and out to start the game and then follow that up with four plays and a touchdown.”
At the half, the high octane falcons were flying high Ryan had thrown 4 touchdowns to 4 different receivers and had their feet on the Saints throat. They weren’t going to let them go marching nowhere in the Dome. Matt Ryan finished the game throwing 36 passes for 27 completions, 331 yards and no interceptions. The crowd recognized him on the Jumbo Screen and chanted MVP, MVP, MVP.
Matt Ryan on what it was like to hear the home crowd chant “MVP”:
“It feels pretty good. That was nice of our fans to do that and pretty cool moment out there today. It felt really good.”
Devante Freeman got close to the century mark with 12 carries for 96 yards but you can’t look at him in just one category he also caught 5 passes for 81 yards. Julio led the Falcon receivers with 7 catches for 96 yards while operating on a slightly damaged wheel. Sometimes he doesn’t have to go for 200 yards to be affective when he’s on the field he commands so much attention he opens things up for other guys or he’s getting pass interference calls on deep passes to move the chains.
Video Vic Beasley
Grady on what he likes about this defense:
“We are a group of guys that play hard for each other. We are young in some spots, we have veterans in some spots, and we feed off each other. It is definitely a special group to be a part of because we got better as the season went on and are encourage for where we are at right now. This is a top two offensive in the league we played, so we had a good showing. We did not finish as well as we wanted to, but we are definitely hitting our stride for the right point in the season.”
New Orleans woke up in the second half stopping the Falcon offensive on the opening drive forcing a 3 and out. The Falcons defense returned the favor. On their second possession they came out of cruise control putting together a 14 play 95 yard drive that resulted in a 22 yard field goal by kicker M. Bryant making the score 38-13 in favor of the Falcons at the 5:22 mark of the third quarter.
Playing the Saints and former league MVP Drew Brees and the Saints you know they weren’t going away quietly. He put together two fourth quarter touchdowns in his best effort but couldn’t convert on either of the two point conversion attempts coming up short 38-32.
His efforts were to the tune of 29 completions out of 50 pass attempts for 350 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Mark Ingram pitched in with 20 carries for 103 yards.
This one started quick fast and in a hurry for the Falcons and ended with them winning the NFC South.
Matt Ryan may have summed it up best “Again, we did what we needed to do. At the end of the day, I think the most important thing is we have given ourselves a chance. We have an opportunity in front of us now. It’ll be fun.”
They finished the regular season 11-5 overall and 9-3 in the conference that sets the stage for a home playoff game, guess the guys have a goal of shutting down the GA Dome in style.