The common knock against the Atlanta Falcons over the past few seasons of unprecedented success: they win lucky. The team hasn't been able to produce success that should be sustainable, according to any acceptable definition of sustainability, and has won over and over on last-minute scores, freak turnovers and major gaffes by opponents.
Yes, the Falcons have been incredibly lucky, it's going to bite them at some point (or maybe the middle of the 2009 season counted as a karma cleanser), and they simply aren't as good as their record over the past three years indicates. So after the Falcons beat the Philadelphia Eagles 35-31 in a game that saw Michael Vick miss the fourth quarter, do I feel like they didn't deserve this one?
Not a bit of guilt over here.
You can point to the yardage differential between the two (Philly outgained Atlanta by 129 yards), but covering all that ground doesn't mean much without punching it in. The Falcons were 5-for-5 in the red zone, which has nothing to do with luck and a lot to do with Philadelphia's inability to do anything about Tony Gonzalez (83 yards, two touchdowns).
Vick's injury improved the Falcons' chances of winning, but backup Mike Kafka isn't the one who dropped a fourth-down catch in the final minutes, let Michael Turner run for 61 yards or let Atlanta score two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Other than that drop, Kafka went 7-of-8 for 72 yards. His quarterback rating even with the drop was an even 100, just shy of Vick's 103.6.
Sure, Vick adds a running threat, which the Eagles could've used late. Vick also fumbled twice, plus threw an interception, with his scrambling fumble coming as he carried the ball far from his body. He's been carrying the ball like that since college. Not exactly a fluke.
Three fumbles hit the ground, and the Falcons recovered two of them. Technically, that's lucky, but it's not the same kind of luck the Chicago Bears enjoyed against the Falcons last week, when the Bears picked up all five fumbles.
The Eagles certainly played well enough to win, but anybody falling back on the standard lamentation about Atlanta's now-traditional method of victory might actually be reaching a little bit this time. Jeremy Maclin mauled Dunta Robinson and the rest of the secondary all game long, LeSean McCoy looked unstoppable and Trent Cole embarrassed Sam Baker, but the Falcons did more with their breaks than the Eagles did with theirs. Kanye shrug.