hate the term “haters.” Fans tend to label somebody a hater any time somebody doesn’t agree with their own view of things, as if their own view of things is the absolute truth and the only opinion that matters. (Welcome to my world.)
But, yes: Many in the national media (and among the team’s own fan base) have had doubts about the Falcons, despite their record. And the doubters generally have been labeled “haters.”
So given Sunday’s resounding 34-0 victory over the New York Giants, it seemed like a good morning to take a spin around the Internet to see what all of those Nattering Nabobs of Negativism were saying and writing.
Guess what? Suddenly everybody loves the Falcons! (Shocking, I know.)
Highlights and linkage . . .
– From former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka, who appeared on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” radio show (which I watched this morning while on the eliptical): “I have to be apologetic because I didn’t think the Falcons were very mentally tough and they proved to me they’re much mentally tougher than the New York Giants.”
– From Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com, who was among those in attendance Sunday: “Still think the Atlanta Falcons aren’t a good football team despite their lofty record and their closing in on the top seed in the NFC? If so, you are wrong. Here’s proof: Falcons 34, New York Giants 0. That’s the defending Super Bowl champion Giants, the team most experts have pegged to go on a late-season roll to again be a factor in the postseason, the same Giants who blew out the Falcons in the playoffs last January. Atlanta made them look like a league bottom-feeder Sunday at the Georgia Dome. The critics, and they are many, especially after Atlanta lost to the Carolina Panthers last week, kept saying how the Falcons don’t blow teams out. They said they were winning, but not impressively. On and on it went. All of last week, on all the networks, on all the websites, it was talk of how the Atlanta Falcons weren’t any good. Now what?”
– From Pat Yasinskas, ESPN’s NFC South Division blogger: “This is what a 12-2 team is supposed to look like. It goes out and dominates every facet of the game against the defending Super Bowl champions. It plays like a machine and erases the ghosts of last season’s playoffs and last week’s ugly loss to the Carolina Panthers. That’s precisely what the Atlanta Falcons did in Sunday’s 34-0 victory over the New York Giants at the Georgia Dome. … Even the critics, including media members and opposing players, who have been quick to point out the Falcons often have been just getting by against the league’s easiest schedule, have to be impressed by this one. At least for the moment, you can make a case the Falcons are as good as their record.”
– From FoxSports.com’s “Top 15 Takeaways” column: “Offensively, the Falcons showed something they hadn’t all season — a ground game. The Falcons ran the ball for 129 yards, with beleaguered back Michael Turner scoring the first touchdown of the game. Atlanta’s dominance on the ground was a big reason why the Falcons had the ball for 23:32 of the second half. Good defense, big passing attack, solid ground game, undefeated at home? Hey, maybe the Falcons could represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, after all.”
– From Yahoo Sports’ Mike Silver in his “Morning Rush” column: “Back in late October, Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White admitted that in light of their shoddy playoff record in recent years, “We’re just regular-season warriors” until proven otherwise. Don’t be so quick to dismiss Atlanta (12-2) as a Super Bowl contender, however. In response to last Sunday’s lackluster defeat to Carolina, the Falcons rolled to a 34-0 victory over the Giants, essentially reversing the outcome of the two teams’ playoff clash last January. In other words, the Regular Season Warriors took a major step. “Lol yea we did,” White said via text Sunday evening. “Confidence booster for the whole team.”
– Jason Cole, another Yahoo NFL writer, seemingly avoided jumping on the Falcons’ bandwagon. Cole strangely avoided referencing the Falcons in the “winners” section of his “Winners and Losers” from Week 15 column. Instead, he mentioned the Giants in the “losers” section, writing: “It’s unfortunate that the New York Giants couldn’t come up with a better effort in light of their hope to honor the victims of the Newtown tragedy. From a football perspective, the Giants’ playoffs hopes are in jeopardy with two games to go. The biggest issue with the Giants is they don’t consistently play with urgency and often need to have a fire lit under them.”
– From John Clayton of ESPN.com: “The Falcons needed a statement game. Despite having the best record in the NFC, the lack of respect for the Falcons carried to an extreme when they dropped to No. 5 in ESPN.com’s Power Rankings. For what it’s worth, I still voted them No. 1. Sunday’s 34-0 victory over the New York Giants was just what they needed. At 12-2 and close to locking up home-field advantage, maybe the Falcons will get some respect now. The Falcons looked like a No. 1 seed Sunday, dominating on offense, defense and special teams. Matt Ryan completed 23-of-28 for 270 yards and three touchdowns. The defense made three key stops on fourth downs.”
– From SI.com’s Don Banks: “Well it wasn’t a playoff win, but at least the Falcons got some revenge for their playoff loss from last season, overwhelming the Giants team that beat Atlanta 24-2 in 2011’s first round. That’s not enough, of course, for Falcons head coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan. Nothing but postseason success will suffice for them. But after last week’s embarrassment at Carolina, Atlanta (12-2) needed to re-establish its credentials as the NFC’s likely No. 1 seed, and destroying the defending Super Bowl champs by nearly five touchdowns is a pretty good way to do it. Ryan especially needed a strong game, and his three-touchdown, 270-yard showing was much more reminiscent of his first-half MVP-level play this season, rather than the uneven showing of the past five or six games. If nothing else, if the Giants and Falcons should meet again in this year’s playoffs, Atlanta won’t enter that game carrying around the burden of last January’s postseason outcome.”
So it appears the viewpoints have changedhttp://hhttp//blogs.ajc.com/jeff-schult ... ged/ttp://