It wasn’t the best game ever played in the NFL, but the Falcons don’t really care. They won for the first time since October 25.
Atlanta beat Jacksonville 23-17 Sunday to improve to 7-7 on the season. The Falcons still have slim playoff hopes, but they have to win of the remaining two games to have even a shot at the postseason.
The Falcons had averaged 14 points per game in the last eight games, but the 23 was just enough Sunday. Atlanta had a balanced attack, with 35 pass attempts (22 completions) by Matt Ryan and 33 running plays.
Atlanta wasn’t particularly effective on the ground, with just 83 yards in those 33 rushes. But Devonta Freeman had 25 carries and 56 yards. Ironically, the Falcons are 4-0 when Freeman has had 25 or more rushes this season.
The biggest accomplishment for the Falcons offense was a long, 14-play drive that ate the clock in the final period.
Julio Jones had another big day, with nine catches for 118 yards and a touchdown. Freeman added seven catches for 45 yards, while rookie Justin Hardy had three catches for 36 yards. Veteran Roddy White had three receptions for 47 yards.
The Falcons defense kept Jacksonville’s running game under control, as quarterback Blake Bortles was the leading rusher with 44 yards on six carries. Denard Robinson had just 28 yards on 14 rushes.
Atlanta’s lines of scrimmage played fairly well. Plus, with Paul Worrilow and William Moore out, the Falcons got decent performances on defense from Nate Stupar and Kemal Ishmael.
The Falcons needed this, and it really has nothing to do with the playoff picture. That’s still muddy, but the team just needed to stop the losing streak and try to finish the season strong. They’ll host the undefeated Carolina Panthers next Sunday at the Georgia Dome.
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