Here are the grades for the Falcons from their 25-20 victory over the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
The Falcons put in additional work in the red zone and on third down in practice last week and it paid off -- somewhat -- against the Jets.
The Falcons scored two touchdowns on six trips inside the Jets’ 20-yard. They added four field goals. The defense, which did a good job of stopping the run, didn’t allow the Jets to reach the 20, but once.
It wasn’t an artistic gem, but the victory stopped the Falcons’ three-game losing streak.
Run offense: The Falcons' rushing attack was stymied for most of the game. The line did not create many creases against Jets' 3-4 defensive alignment. The Falcons longest run mid-way through the third quarter was a 14-yard scamper by quarterback Matt Ryan until running back Tevin Coleman busted loose for a 52-yard run. Coleman's run led to a touchdown and helped the Falcons take a 22-17 lead. Coleman rushed 14 times for 82 yards. Freeman, who didn't finish the game as his right shoulder and neck area appeared hurt, rushed 12 times for 41 yards. Grade: C-plus
Pass offense: Trailing 17-13, the Falcons' offense came out in the second half and had two three-and-outs before Ryan connected on a 53-yard bomb with Julio Jones. The promising drive stalled and Matt Bryant added his third field goal. The Falcons trips to the red zone included a dropped touchdown pass by tight end Austin Hooper in the second quarter. Ryan's 8-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu gave the Falcons their first lead since the second quarter of the Miami game. Ryan was 18 of 29 for 254 yards passing and two touchdowns. He also had four fumbles and lost two of them in the sloppy conditions. Grade: C-plus
Run defense: The Falcons entered the game knowing that they needed to stop the run and gave up a 12-yard run around right end on the first play of the game to Jets running back Bilal Powell. They got tougher after that play. The Jets has just 23 yards on 12 carries after half. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, Dontari Poe and newcomer Ahtyba Rubin were stout up front against the run. Also, Derrick Shelby played strong against the run. The Falcons held the Jets to 43 yards on 22 carries after giving up more than 100 yards in each of their previous three games. Grade: A
Pass defense: On the Jets first touchdown, there was some nice draw play-action that sucked in linebacker Kemal Ishmael and safety Keanu Neal was beaten off the line. Ishmael was late to drop into the passing lane and Eric Tomlinson was open for the 20-yard score. The score came a play after free safety Ricardo Allen was called for a pass interference. Desmond Trufant was beaten badly by Robbie Anderson for a 24-yard touchdown grab. In the third quarter with the Jets holding a one-point lead, Robert Alford was beaten up the sideline by Anderson for a 35-yard gain. Grade: C-minus
Special teams: Bryant was steady as Jets kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed two field goals in a weather-condition game. Bryant made field goals of 23, 45, 37 and 29 yards. The coverage units were strong and Matt Bosher punted well. The ball handling was flawless in the rain by the specialists. Ishmael recovered a muffed punt by Kerley with 6:42 to play. Roberts had a punt return for a touchdown, but it was nullified by a blocking in the back penalty by Sharrod Neasman. Bosher had a perfect 42-yard flop punt that rolled out of bounds with 1:07 to play. Grade: B-plus
Coaching: The Falcons coaches came up with a plan to fix the leaky run defense and that paid huge dividends. Yes, Jets quarterback Josh McCown hit on a few passes, but he wasn't able to sustain drives. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian's attack continued to appear dis-jointed. The Falcons came out of the half with two three-and-outs. The offense looked its best when Matt Ryan was operating out of the no-huddle. Grade: C-plus.
Next up: The Falcons (4-3) travel to play the Carolina Panthers (5-3) in their NFC South opener at 1 p.m. Sunday in Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.