In typical Falcons fashion, this week's win was in no way convincing. However, for at least one half of football the Falcons were absolutely dominant in all phases of the game.
On offense, Matt Ryan displayed his superb ability to throw the ball today, going 27-for-34 for 262 yards and three touchdown passes. Ryan's first of those scores came on a beautiful 27-yard strike to Harry Douglas, his first of the season. The slot receiver has finally started to regain his rookie form in recent weeks and has filled in well for a still somewhat hobbled Julio Jones.
Later that half, Ryan would find Roddy White in the back of the end zone on a six-yard TD throw to put the Falcons up 14-0. While Michael Turner didn't exactly have a stellar day, White turned in another 2010-esque performance, catching 10 passes for 120 yards and the aforementioned score.
The defense also started off strong in this ball game, limiting Christian Ponder through the air and shutting down Minnesota's ground game, which was missing one Adrian Peterson this weekend. Sean Weatherspoon had an outstanding day both playing the run and in coverage, and Lawrence Sidbury also got in on the action with an impressive two-sack performance. After struggling last year, the young Sidbury appears to have found his niche as a role player on the Falcons.
And even Eric Weems got in on the action, building on a string of recent quality performances by returning a punt 42 yards near the end of the first half. That would set up a Matt Bryant field goal, giving the Falcons a 17-point lead at halftime. After that, things kind of took a Vikings turn.
Chris Owens, though he had himself a fine day, can't realistically be expected to shut down Percy Harvin- one of the most dangerous players in the league- for four quarters. One long pass would set up a one-yard Toby Gerhart TD run, and another would result in a 39-yard touchdown throw to Harvin. On a side note, I find it confusing and mildly enraging that Curtis Lofton was covering Harvin on the play (I'm looking at you, BVG).
But Owens would later redeem himself by stopping Harvin at the three-yard line on a punt return that should absolutely have gone for a touchdown. One four-down goal line stand later, the Falcons had preserved their slim lead. And then Matt Ryan- as he is apt to do- came through in the clutch and engineered a surgically precise nine-play, 73-yard drive that culminated in a three-yard TD toss to backup tight end Michael Palmer.
All in all, it was another ugly Falcons win, but a win nevertheless. Let's hope Smitty can rally that second half defense in Houston next week.