A solid performance by the offense in the first half. I think Mularkey called a good game there, and the Falcons executed that game plan very well. I think things got a little too conservative at the outset of the third quarter and you could see a hint of the Falcons playing to protect a lead as opposed to a team that wanted to keep attacking and being aggressive.
A strong performance for Matt Ryan, the type of game that he had with regularity a season ago. But those games have come with far less frequency this year, but he seems over recent weeks to be getting back into that 2010 stride.
Roddy White had an excellent game, and both Douglas and Gonzalez had solid contributions. Jones was an afterthought for the most part, and it’s a shame because he was wide open on the TD pass to Michael Palmer, and it would have been a much easier throw for Ryan to make if he had spotted him. And he was also open deep on a play late in the game, that Ryan threw to Roddy instead for a 26-yard gain, but if he had taken the deep shot perhaps the Falcons score then rather than six plays later on the pass to Palmer. But I guess you could argue that the additional 3 minutes they were able to milk off the clock on those six plays helped them just as much.
The ground game was solid when the holes were there. A lot of missed blocks on the part of the Falcons. Svitek had a good game, shutting down Jared Allen in pass protection, but struggled at various times as a run blocker, missing 3 blocks. Everyone except Clabo missed a block or two, and everytime Turner was stopped for a minimal gain was due to the blocking. We saw a bit more of the Falcons mixing in Snelling and Rodgers into the rushing rotation, although there are still some instances where the Falcons call plays and I’m wondering why Turner is in the game rather than Quizz.
Defensively, an outstanding effort by Sean Weatherspoon with a ridiculous 5 tackles for loss in this game. And what is going on with Dunta Robinson, and he’s all of a sudden being good? Lofton and Nicholas had nice performances, and Peters had the best game among the front four. Worth noting that Abe had two pressures negated because of a holding call on Phil Loadholt, and a blown coverage by Lofton. Babineaux had another one negated because Sanders gave up a reception, and Biermann had one because he whiffed on a tackle on Ponder. On a note about Ponder, I think if the game ever slows down for him, he could be dangerous. His ability to extend the play gave the Falcons D-linemen fits. Dominique Franks most extensive debut was not very promising. The much maligned Chris Owens had a decent performance despite missing that interception near the goalline. That was a play that Brent Grimes certainly would have made, but we all know by now that Owens is no Optimus. It goes to show that he belongs playing on the outside, and gets exposed the minute you play him inside in the slot. But it also tells us that the Falcons will have trouble covering slot receivers until Kelvin Hayden comes back, because Harvin had a solid day just like Nate Washington a week ago. Thomas DeCoud had a quiet game, although he did make a nice stop on that goalline stand where Harvin snuck the ball across the goalline, but the refs and Leslie Frazier missed it. It’s nice to know that other teams besides the Falcons do a poor job of knowing when to challenge and when not to. I don’t know what Sanders was supposed to be doing on Harvin’s deep touchdown catch, so ultimately I gave him credit for the blown coverage because he seemed like he wasn’t where he was supposed to be which was presumably playing deeper instead of simply covering empty grass in the middle of the field.
I almost credited Sidbury’s second sack as a tackle for loss because it looked like Ponder might have been in the act of running rather than passing, but it wasn’t clear, so he got a sack, which was really easy because Ponder ran right into his arms. Owens sack was tallied as a tackle for loss according to Moneyball rules because Ponder was not in the act of passing, but instead trying to run for a first down on 1st and goal.
I wish I could give Owens credit for his touchdown-saving tackle on that 104-yard return by Harvin, since that could be argued to be the play of the game. If he does not make that stop there, it puts the onus on the offense to try and milk the last 6.5 minutes off the clock or score a touchdown, something they probably would not have been able to do. For the record, it was Sidbury that got out of his lane on that return that gave Harvin that huge hole to run through. Akeem Dent continues to be a stud on special teams coverage units. And it was nice to see Kerry Meier make a contribution with a hellacious crackback block on the Vikings long snapper Cullen Loeffler that knocked him out of the game.
Advanced Stats from Week 12:
Poor Throws (3): Ryan
Drops (2): Douglas
Key Blocks (7): Clabo (1.5), Hawley (1.5), McClure (1.5), Cox (1), Gonzalez (1), Blalock (0.5)
Sacks Allowed (2): Hawley
Missed Blocks (8): Svitek (3), Blalock (2), McClure (2), Hawley (1)
QB Pressures Allowed (1): Blalock
Tackles for Loss (10): Weatherspoon (5), Peters (1.5), Nicholas (1), Owens (1), Robinson (1), Franks (0.5)
QB Sacks (3): Sidbury (2), Weatherspoon (1)
QB Pressures (1): Weatherspoon
QB Hits (4): Biermann (1.5), Abraham (1), Franks (1), Lofton (0.5)
Passes Defended (3): Lofton, Nicholas, Robinson
Blown Coverages (4): Franks, Lofton, Sanders, Weatherspoon
Missed Tackles (0)
Key Blocked (3): Walker (2), Babineaux (1)