It wasn’t an artistic gem, but the Falcons showed some moxie going toe-to-toe with the Eagles before prevailing with a late touchdown and a key red-zone stop to secure the 24-20 victory on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
After the debacle in Minnesota, the Falcons needed to show the nation they weren’t that over-hyped pushover team that showed up against the Vikings.
The Falcons stood their ground and the team’s playmakers made some plays.
On to the grades:
Run offense: The Falcons run game is not popping just yet. Devonta Freeman, who had 11 carries for 22 yards, is still shaking off the rust. Ito Smith led the way with 32 yards on four carries. Overall, the Falcons averaged a mediocre 3.4 yards per carry. “I thought Free was better in this game,” offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said. “I thought Free really tried to run the ball hard downhill. In that first series, that little toss-crack was a good example of that. He had a couple of other runs. Freeman’s best play, where I thought he really looked like his old self, was on the first play of the second half. We ran that little screen to him and he split it right down the middle to the four yard line.” Grade: D
Pass offense: Ryan completed 27 of 43 passes for 320 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. He had a passer rating on 79.6. Wide receivers Julio Jones (106) and Calvin Ridley (105) both went over the 100-yard mark. Hooper was next with four catches for 34 yards. Mohamed Sanu did most of his damage blocking on the final touchdown and recovering Luke Stocker’s fumble. Ryan has to eliminate that ugly red-zone interception. The picks dragged the grade down. Grade: C-plus
Run defense: The Falcons swarmed to the ball and held the Eagles to 49 yards rushing on 21 carries. The unit has six tackles for losses. They had to show up after giving up 172 yards against the Vikings. Safety Keanu Neal (nine tackles), linebacker DeVondre Campbell (eight) and Deion Jones (eight) led the way. Grady Jarrett and Allen Bailey were stout up front. Grade: A-plus
Pass defense: Cornerback Desmond Trufant had his first two-interception game to go with three pass breaksups. The pass rush came alive with three sacks and 10 quarterback hits. Isaiah Oliver had the big stop on fourth down to close out the game. Grade: B-plus
Special teams: Punter Matt Bosher punted twice with a sore groin. Matt Bryant handled the kickoff duties. Returner Kenjon Barner had three punt returns for 12 yards. The Eagles booted four kickoffs out of the endzone for touchback. The Falcons held the dangerous Darren Sproles to 8 yards on one punt return. With Bryant kicking off, the Eagles were able to get some returns and average 25 yards on five returns. Rookie Kendall Sheffield forced a fumble on the kickoff return to start the third quarter. Grade: B
Coaching: The staff got the team ready to play after that Minnesota showing. “I was proud of the toughness that the guys showed all the way through to the end,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “I thought it was pretty nasty, tough game.” Having a veteran coordinator like Dirk Koetter calling the plays paid off. Quinn’s defensive calls were on point and helped his unit close out the game. “There are plenty of spots for us to work on,” Quinn said. “Clearly, on special teams, the penalties that were a factor in our field position being backed up. I thought having interceptions down the red zone to take points off the board, that's an area -- and then defensively to allow a fourth down-and-four score in the red zone on both sides -- we've got work to do in the red zone.” Grade A
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