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Ten quick thoughts on Atlanta 26, Baltimore 21: Peter King


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1. Falcons are totally legit. The Atlanta defense swarmed around Joe Flacco all night and never let him breathe until the last 20 minutes. On offense, even with Michael Turner stuck in quicksand, Matt Ryan made play after play, as did Roddy White, to show that this offense can win in multiple ways.

2. Matt Ryan and Roddy White are getting to the Peyton Manning-Reggie Wayne level in terms of familiarity. In other words, Ryan throws to White even when he's not open, and it's usually good enough. They're developing the kind of chemistry the great ones need to have to carry a team.

3. Imagine if Atlanta wins homefield for the NFC playoffs. Falcons have the edge right now, obviously, at 7-2 with an early start on the NFL weekend, and with a manageable schedule the rest of the way -- at Rams, Packers, at Bucs, at Panthers, at Seahawks, Saints, Panthers -- it could come down to the 6-2 Giants having a tougher road sked (Eagles, Vikings, Packers, Redskins on the road) for the NFC's top seed. With Atlanta 17-1 in the Ryan Era at home, homefield would be huge for Atlanta.

4. White got away with offensive pass-interference on his winning touchdown. Not even close. He pushed Baltimore corner Josh Wilson down with one arm. Those breaks even out over the course of a season, though you probably shouldn't say that to John Harbaugh right now. He wouldn't be red-blooded if he weren't steaming about the non-call by Ron Winter's crew. The other ridiculous call was a facemask on Terrell Suggs -- when HE was the one getting his mask yanked. Bizarro world.

5. Baltimore's defense just isn't the same. Ed Reed looks 47. The corners were sieves last night. The Ravens gave up 156 yards in the fourth quarter. I remember when they didn't give up 156 in a game.

6. A bad night for Baltimore offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. As Flacco kept getting pressured, I said to my big-screen TV: "Where's Rice? Give it to Rice!'' The best offensive player on the field for the Ravens, with apologies to Anquan Boldin, was Rice (15 touches, 102 yards), and yet the Ravens had a 63-37 pass-run ratio. Should have been the other way around on a night when they rushed 21 times for 116 yards -- a 5.5 yards-per-carry average. When you hand it to Rice three times on the first series of the night, and he gets 11, 13 and five yards, and then you hand it to him nine times the rest of the game, I've got a real problem with that play-calling.

7. Matt Ryan's clearly better than Joe Flacco. Better feel in the pocket, more accurate, better command of the offense. I like both guys, but seeing them side by side it was easy to see Ryan has the edge.

8. John Abraham abused Michael Oher. I like the Baltimore Blind-Sider as a long-term left tackle, but he has trouble with quick inside moves, like the ones Abraham possesses.

9. Big night for Curtis Lofton. Not only do you feel him when he hits you, but also he's the kind of productive middle-roamer GM Thomas Dimitroff thought he'd be when he drafted him in 2008. Ten tackles plus a huge hit on Todd Heap last night.

10. What happens if NFL Network ever gets a Super Bowl? Will they actually field a 53-man roster of talent? Fifteen NFLNetters worked the pregame, game and postgame for a November regular-season game, by my count. In alphabetical order: Brian Billick, Fran Charles, Rich Eisen, Marshall Faulk, Alex Flanagan, Jay Glazer, Kara Henderson, Jason LaCanfora, Steve Mariucci, Matt Millen, Bob Papa, Deion Sanders, Sterling Sharpe, Joe Theismann, Kurt Warner. Side note: I wonder how many fans still can't see the games. God knows I heard via Twitter from scores of angry fans still shut out from seeing a big game last night.

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