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Rapid Reaction: Atlanta Falcons


hjerry
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ATLANTA -- A few thoughts on the Atlanta Falcons' 56-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneersat the Georgia Dome:

What it means: The Falcons, whose NFC South record improved to 2-0, are extremely dangerous when they are clicking on all cylinders. Quarterback Matt Ryan set the tone early by marching his team on a a six-play, 70-yard scoring drive, capped by his 3-yard touchdown pass to Harry Douglas, in the first three minutes of the game. The Falcons scored 21 first-quarter points, and it was pretty much over after that. If the Falcons can jump ahead early like they did Thursday night, not many teams will be able to keep up with them. And if the defense plays inspired football like it did, the Falcons could be unstoppable. But let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet. It's just one game -- although a very dominating one -- but the Falcons have to find their rhythm on the road at Minnesota the next time out.

Stock watch: Ryan's stock plummeted last week as he posted just a 48.6 passer rating in a 24-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Well, that's a distant memory now after Ryan posted a career-high and franchise record 155.9 passer rating Thursday, completing 21 of 24 passes for 286 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. His 87.5 completion percentage was a franchise single-game record (minimum 20 attempts). Ryan again made some plays with his feet, and his top receiver, Julio Jones, caught nine passes for 161 yards and two scores. The biggest difference for Ryan from last week was the return of rookie left tackle Jake Matthews to the lineup off an ankle injury. If Ryan gets the proper protection, he'll put up elite-quarterback numbers every time out.

Walking wounded: The Falcons left the game rather banged up at receiver. Douglas injured a foot in the first half but didn't return, although he walked around the bench area in the second half. Devin Hester left the field before halftime with cramps but returned in the second half. He then limped off the field in the second half and went straight to the locker room. The Falcons already were without veteran Roddy White, who expected to play in the game but was inactive due to a hamstring injury. The Falcons have 10 days to rest up for their next game against the Vikings, so maybe those injured players will be healed up by then. If not, a guy such as rookie Bernard Reedy might have to be activated from the practice squad.

Game ball: As Chicago Bears radio play-by-play man Jeff Joniak would say, Hester was "ridiculous" as he set an NFL record with his 20th career touchdown return -- a 62-yard punt return -- to surpass mentor Deion Sanders. Hester high-stepped to the end zone in Deion Sanders-like fashion, and he also scored his first-career rushing touchdown on a 20-yard reverse.

http://espn.go.com/b...lanta-falcons-9

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Does anyone here think the Falcons can go 15-1 or is the division still the Saints?

Let's not get ahead of ourselves. The team did play well last night but the Bucs clearly did not put much effort in this game. In 2010, the Falcons played the Bucs in Week 17 & scored like 38 points & thrashed them in a similar fashion, but you could see the team had quit on Raheem Morris. The Falcons went on a bye & then got embarrassed by Green Bay the following week. The Falcons need to show me that they can be consistent, play all 4 quarters of a game (not just a half), be able to pick up a yard on 3rd down on offense, & get off the field on 3rd down on defense. This team has been too Jekyll & Hyde for a long time. Edited by Sidious
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