On Sunday, the Falcons would barely hang on for the win in Seattle, pulling out a 30-28 victory after nearly collapsing in the second half. Still, a win is a win, and if you want to get technical about it, the Falcons just beat a playoff team on the road in one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL.
Does that mean the Falcons don't have problems? Absolutely not. But the Dirty Birds are 2-2 and still very much alive through the first quarter of the season.
I have to apologize for the poor quality of commentating in this video. You really have to wonder how FOX finds these people, and if there's actually any selection criteria or they just hire any random schmuck who interviews. I digress.
At one point, the Falcons had the game well in hand, leading 24-7 at the half. The defense was phenomenal, limiting the 'Hawks to five first half rushing rushing yards. Outside of Brent Grimes allowing Sidney Rice to slip past him on a 52-yard touchdown pass, the Falcons were almost mistake-free.
The offense, at least for the first half, was also very impressive. Ryan utilitzed almost all of his weapons, even getting Jacquizz Rodgers more involved in the no-huddle offense. Julio Jones was very involved today, racking up eleven catches for 127 yards receiving. Jones has yet to score a touchdown, but he was reeling in catches all day and making Seattle cornerback Brandon Browner look silly out there. It was a great day for Julio.
And then there was Michael Turner. At times he didn't look explosive at all, but on a 21-yard TD run in the second quarter he might as well have been Usain Bolt. He dashed in for his second rushing score of the day that put the Falcons up 21-7.
Then came the second half. For the defense, it was almost like night and day. Tarvaris Jackson came alive, and suddenly was throwing all over the field. Mostly though, he was picking on the likes of Dunta Robinson and a hobbled Kelvin Hayden. On one of his three TD passes, Dunta left his man wide open in the corner of the end zone. Towards the end of the game, he bit on a double move that almost resulted in another score. It was a terrible second half for Atlanta's big-money corner.
The main difference between the first and second half, in my contention, is that the Seattle coaching staff made adjustments the Falcons couldn't handle. The 'Hawks aren't great, but I tip my hat to Pete Carroll for an excellent second half game plan. They began running the ball more effectively, allowing Jackson to run the team's no-huddle offense, and screen plays to Marshawn Lynch actually worked (as opposed to the Falcons' miserable attempts).
The team hung on, sure. But let this be a lesson to Brian Van Gorder that shows why the prevent defense can only prevent your team from winning. If BVG's unit shows up next week against the Packers playing like the second-half Falcons, it's going to be a long day in Atlanta. Aaron Rodgers just put up 49 points on the Broncos.
So have the Falcons improved? Yes. But they're still not playing at that elite level just yet. Stay tuned, and thank the football gods the Falcons have somehow gone .500 so far.