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Falcons show why they might be better Super Bowl contender

22 posts in this topic

Vaughn McClure ESPN

ATLANTA -- Thirty seconds Sunday night showed why the Atlanta Falcons might be better equipped for a Super Bowl run this season, provided injuries don't impede their path.

With 54 seconds remaining in the first half, one-time Pro Bowl cornerback Desmond Trufant, the guy who missed the second half of last season with a pectoral injury, intercepted a pass by Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Four plays later, reigning MVP Matt Ryan found running back Tevin Coleman for a 3-yard touchdown, marking the third time the Falcons converted in the red zone in three first-half red zone opportunities.

It was a perfect example of the offense and defense working in unison to put points on the scoreboard. And it was the kind of effort coach Dan Quinn expected from his team after a listless showing in a Week 1 win at Chicago.

The Falcons made sure the first regular season game inside the new $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium was a memorable one, and not just because the retractable roof was open. Handling a Packers team also expected to be contenders and fresh off a season-opening win over the Seattle Seahawks was a message from the Falcons to the rest of the NFC that the Super Bowl hangover might just be a myth.

Speaking of the Super Bowl, Quinn often talked this preseason about learning lessons from the 34-28 overtime loss to the New England Patriots, where the Falcons blew a 28-3 third-quarter lead. The Falcons had a 24-7 halftime Sunday night but didn't immediately relax -- fitting, since their motto all week was, ``All Gas, No Breaks.'' Pass rusher Vic Beasley's punishing third-quarter hit of Rodgers was a sack-fumble recovered by Trufant for a 15-yard score an exclamation point for the defense, and for the team as a whole.

It wasn't a flawless effort, by any means. The offense wasn't on the field much in the third quarter and lost some rhythm, and the defense had some fourth-quarter lapses that allowed Rodgers to make plays and make it more competitive ending. But the bulk of the game showed how the Falcons are that much stronger when the offense doesn't have to shoulder the entire load, with the defense picking up some of the slack.

Ryan and the offense certainly set the tone. There was so much talk going into the game about the Packers' ``nitro'' defense and how tough it would be on the Falcons. A nine-play, 86-yard initial drive by the Falcons, capped by DeVonta Freeman's 1-yard touchdown run, put that talk to rest. So did the four catches for 95 yards in the first half by All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones, the guy Quinn vowe wouldn't be "quiet'' again after a pedestrian-like 66 yards on four catches in Week 1. And Jones finished with the 36th 100-plus-yard receiving game of his career.

It was more than just the Ryan-Jones connection. The running game got going, thanks to Freeman's pair of touchdown runs. Mohamed Sanu continued to be a strong target down the middle. And Justin Hardy may have had the most underrated play of the game with a 19-yard catch that set up Freeman's 2-yard touchdown.

Defensively, Trufant made good on his promise to get his hands on more footballs this year with his eighth career interception to go with the fumble return. Pass rushers Beasley, Adrian Clayborn, and Takk McKinley put vicious hits on Rodgers, just for future reference.

And let's not forget about the contribution of Matt Bryant, who hit a pair of 50-plus yard field goals.

With the Falcons beating the Packers, there's no reason to think they can't start 5-0 with upcoming games against Detroit, Buffalo, and Miami before the Super Bowl rematch with the Patriots (Oct. 22). Sunday night, they became only the fourth team since 1999 to start 2-0 the season after a Super Bowl loss. Two of the other three teams made the postseason.

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Just now, gazoo said:

I am ALL OVER that Patriot game this year haha

I don't want the Falcons to look forward, but as a fan I am looking at that game lol

Listen I've had that game marked on my calendar ever since we figures out we were going to play them..I want revenge..I want to them to make Brady **** the bed at home in front of the world again and this time finish the job

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13 minutes ago, RoddyWhite84 said:

Listen I've had that game marked on my calendar ever since we figures out we were going to play them..I want revenge..I want to them to make Brady **** the bed at home in front of the world again and this time finish the job

Ever since I saw our schedule came out I've been licking my chops to get back to that game! 

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24 minutes ago, gazoo said:

Ever since I saw our schedule came out I've been licking my chops to get back to that game! 

Oh yes can not wait just counting down the weeks..I just want us healthy as possible going into that game 

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I'm a bit worried if Beasley is out for awhile.  we seemed to slow down our vicious attack on Rodgers when he left the game (or am I wrong?).  perhaps that's just us playing less aggressively because we were so far ahead.  it would be nice to have Beasley against a great QB like Stafford.  (I am assuming he's out for a few games but have absolutely no evidence for it, so please don't kill me) 

any thoughts? 

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It's so funny to me that people are slowly figuring out what was already obvious.  Or I think in some of these people's cases, they already knew it but just were afraid to say it.  This team is LOADED on both sides of the ball and everybody should have known that. 

I didn't even think the Falcons played anywhere near to their potential last night.  When this team really kicks into gear, man, I just get warm and fuzzy thinking about it.

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11 hours ago, WhenFalconsWin said:

I'll take 5-0

Just need to beat NE. One game at a time though. NE is going to be better than when we faced them.

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I believe the Patriots are in for a azz whipping like they have never experienced in Foxboro on Oct. 22nd... Quinn will not call off the dogs no matter what the score for this game... I think were gonna make that 42-27 the Patriots lost to the Chiefs in game one look like a close game...

You know ours boys are going up there to show the World who the better team is and was, it wouldn't surprise me if we hung 50 or 60 points on them...

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1 hour ago, since68andcounting said:

I'm thinking more along the lines of 3-0. And I hope the team is as well.

This response is humorous to me. You never want the team to look past the next game.

But I am a fan, it does not hurt Arthur Blank, Dan Quinn, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones  if Gazoo or some other message board member looks ahead at the Patriots game.

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38 minutes ago, gazoo said:

This response is humorous to me. You never want the team to look past the next game.

But I am a fan, it does not hurt Arthur Blank, Dan Quinn, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones  if Gazoo or some other message board member looks ahead at the Patriots game.

I'm not so sure about that. Players read what is written about them. It's human nature. How many times have you seen a team that "started believing their own hype" get their butts kicked?

For you as a single individual, you're right, it doesn't matter. But as a collective whole, the perception and attitude of the fan base does have an impact on a team.

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