Thursday Night Football

The Falcons won a game.

Jim Rome
October 30, 2020 - 9:02 am
Matt Ryan

USA Today

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Yesterday, I asked the question: how would the Atlanta Falcons lose to the Carolina Panthers?  What new come from way ahead catastrophe could we expect.  They had already melted down on an onside kick, let Nick Foles come back and kick them in the package, and had Todd Gurley accidentally fall into the end zone late to virtually guarantee a loss. So what were they going to do to raise the bar last night: because if the Falcons are on TV, and they’re playing in the fourth quarter, something horrible and awesome was bound to happen. Except it didn’t. They completely flipped the script on us: they won!

But that doesn’t mean that they didn’t play like they were laying the groundwork for another disastrous finish. They definitely did that. They dug the foundation for that house of shame on the very first drive when they marched down to the Carolina 3-yard line and the drive stalled out.

And on 4th and 1 from the 3, the Falcons had a decision to make: go for it or kick a field goal. Let me put it another way: they’re on the road, they’re 1-6, they have an interim head coach, so do you go for it or kick a field goal.

The Falcons took the field goal.

They made the field goal, but if you were playing Ugly Road Loss Bingo, you could already check off “strange decision to kick field goal” from your card. I’m not saying that kicking the field goal in that situation is the worst decision ever, but come on? And I say this as someone who has a ton of respect for interim coach Raheem Morris, but you’re on the three yard line, you’re 1-6, its fourth and one, maybe you line up and punch someone in the face, and punch it in. let it rip. Make a statement. It’s not like you have anything to lose: especially your dignity; they all lost that weeks ago. 

But the Falcons were happy enough to just take the points. And then to watch the Panthers respond with a 6-play touchdown drive. And then Atlanta came right back with a 12-play field goal drive.

At point, it felt like Atlanta was doing all the right things to set up another major choke job. The defense was letting Carolina move right down the field, and the offense wasn’t finishing any of their drives and settling for field goals: and I was feeling good about it, because I knew it was going to end really badly. And no, I wasn’t rooting for the panthers: and wasn’t even rooting AGAINST the Falcons: I don’t give a damn who wins that game, or any game for that matter. I was rooting for something to talk about, and the falcons were doing work and giving me that. 

And by the way, don’t get this twisted:  – I don’t even think Atlanta is a bad team. I fact, I think they’re a fascinating team.  I actually love ‘em  Because as I’ve said before, you have to be pretty damn  good to have double digit leads in the fourth quarter of consecutive games and you have to be pretty damn bad to blow double digit leads in the fourth quarter of consecutive games. So they’re both. 

And that’s why they’re such a fascinating team, because you never know what you’re going to get. And with eight minutes to go in the first half, you got some magic from Matt Ryan on a touchdown run. 

Look at Steve Young out there! Check out the wheels on that dude. Since when did Matty Ice turn into Mikey Vick? I mean, sure it helped that one Panthers defensive back fell over and was trying to do a bear crawl to get to Ryan, but nobody was catching Matt Ryan last night.

As I’ve always said, when Matt Ryan gets into the open field, you can cancel Christmas. He’s no Daniel Jones.

But after the game, Ryan was being modest when he talked about the run and admitted that he had open field in front of him, but he wasn’t quite sure if he was going to make it. 

“I never know. You never know until you’re really in there. These guys can recover pretty quickly, but just fast enough. I feel like I’ve always been that way throughout my career – just fast enough to make them pay sometimes on third downs. It was a big score for us there. We needed it.”

It sure was a big score and your team sure did need it. Not just for the points, but for the energy lift. Because guys were losing their bleep on the sideline. 

Ryan saw that and wasn’t quite sure what that was about either: “I can’t tell if they’re laughing at me or just having a good time and excited for it, but they’re always good when we get them and I think guys get fired up by it showing that there’s different ways to get the job done.”

I hate to be the guy to say it, but usually if you can’t tell if someone is laughing at you or with you, it’s probably at you. But not in this case. And definitely not from me. Nothing but respect for my guy: Lamar Jackson has nothing on you, ICE MAN!

You see a play like that and you think, maybe, just maybe the Falcons are going to rip this game. But then you’re reminded of the fact that you’ve thought that time and time again with the Falcons and they’ve figured out ways to not rip it.

And you couple that with their continued commitment throughout last night’s game of racking up long drives with big yardage and stall outs in the end zone that end with field goals.

That is until they capped off this 7 minute drive with a Todd Gurley touchdown.

And this time, Todd Gurley scoring was a good thing. A very good thing. Because it put Atlanta up by eight. Kick the extra point, you’re up by two scores with 11 minutes to go in the fourth. And what did Atlanta do with the extra point? They did the most Atlanta thing they could do in that moment, and miss the extra point.

Uh-oh, alanda!! If you’re a Falcons fan, AT THAT POINT, YOU’RE FEARING THE WORST.  You knew it wasn’t a matter of “if” the Falcons would lose, because they would. And it wasn’t a matter of “when” the Falcons would lose, because it would be right at the end of the game. It was only a matter of “how” the Falcons would lose.

And Carolina knew it too. As just about every single person with a Twitter account tweeted last night, the Panthers had the Falcons right where they wanted them. They knew Atlanta’s history, they knew they had a really good look at this. Even when Carolina had a 3rd and 18 at their own 24 with 1:47 to go, they still knew they had it in the bag, with a Teddy B to DJ Moore reception.

Falcons’ fans, how were you feeling after that completion? I’ll answer that for you: absolutely terrible. You’re puking all over yourself from your couch, just like your guys were puking all over themselves on the field. You have a 3rd and 18, your rookie DB bites on a move and suddenly, Carolina is on your 34. You knew at that point it was over. Carolina was going to score, go for two, and then win it in overtime. AND EVERYONE WHO BET THAT THE FALCONS WOULD FALCON WAS GOING TO PARTY. 

Except that didn’t happen. Three plays later, the Falcons did a reverse Falcon and the Panthers did a Falcon and threw an INT.

Interception. Ball game. Victory formation. Holy bleeping crap. Bleedy Ray-Wilson, if you need him. And Atlanta did. To the question of which way would the Falcons lose last night, they answer is: they would win. They would shock the world and win the damn game.

As Matt Ryan said afterwards: "We've been in every game we've played this year. We've had some crazy losses, just to be frank, and I really believe that we've got the caliber of team to go be in the games we're going to play the rest of the season. Why can't we win them all? That's the mindset that I have."

I love it. Why can’t you win them all? And by the way, Raheem Morris is 2-1 as the interim coach. If it’s not for Todd Gurley losing his balance and the defense losing their heads on Sunday, he’s 3-0.  And well on his way to the 11-0 mark Arthur blank said he needed to keep that job on a fulltime basis. Rise up, Alanda!! Rise Up.