Last Monday night the Atlanta defense came through at the end of the game against Philadelphia. Ricardo Allen intercepted a Sam Bradford pass that sealed the victory for the Falcons, despite a second-half surge by the Eagles that almost saw a 20-3 halftime lead evaporate.
Sunday in the third quarter the Falcons were down 20-10 when a Kroy Biermann sack on Eli Manning killed New York’s chances to extend the lead. Atlanta then got going again of offense, scoring twice in the fourth quarter to beat the Giants 24-20 and improve to 2-0 on the season.
The Falcons were able to score late despite a non-existent running game that disappeared with the injury to rookie Tevin Coleman in the second quarter. Coleman reportedly suffered a rib injury, and reports after the game were sketchy on exactly how long he may be out.
But once again it was the best player on the team, wide receiver Julio Jones, who picked up the slack. Jones tied the Falcons’ record for catches with 13 that resulted in 135 yards. Atlanta’s passing game was very effective, as quarterback Matt Ryan had 30 completions out of 46 attempts for 363 yards and a touchdown.
The team also had a solid day from new wide receiver Leonard Hankerson, who caught six passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. New tight end Jacob Tamme also was very productive, as he also had 77 yards on four catches. While Devonta Freeman was ineffective as Coleman’s replacement at running back (25 yards on 12 carries), he did catch four passes for 34 yards.
But it was the defense that led the way. Along with Biermann’s timely sack that resulted in a costly turnover for New York, rookie Vic Beasley recorded the first sack of his career. Adrian Clayborn was credited with three quarterback hurries, while O’Brien Schofield had one.
The Giants had only 97 yards rushing on 23 attempts. Last week the Eagles had 63 yards on 16 attempts. So the Falcons are doing a decent job of defending the run.
There is definitely more pressure on the quarterback, with more activity in the backfield. New linebacker Justin Durant led the Falcons in tackles with 10. William Moore also had another solid performance with some hard-hitting tackles.
The Falcons did give up 146 yards on seven catches to Odell Beckham, Jr., who was just as effective and magical on offense to New York as Jones was for Atlanta.
Next week the Falcons will try to stay undefeated with a game in Dallas against the beat up Cowboys. Quarterback Tony Romo was injured Sunday in the Cowboys’ win over Philadelphia. Romo broke his collarbone and is likely to be out 6-8 weeks. Brandon Weeden will likely start for Romo next week against the Falcons. Weeden was 7-7 for 73 yards and a touchdown after replacing Romo Sunday.
Also, wide receiver Dez Bryant is out from an injury last week. That might give the Falcons an advantage, but they will have to figure out the status of Coleman, as the team can ill-afford to lose their best running back.
The Falcons are tied with the Panthers atop the NFC South standings. The Saints are 0-2 after losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday in New Orleans.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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