Who thought the Atlanta Falcons would be 3-1 to start off the year? There were not many people out there that thought Atlanta would be this successful so early. They are leading the NFC South, and have set franchise records in four games. While the season started off with a loss, the team has only gotten better each and every game.
In one of the most anticipated matchups early in the season, the Falcons pummeled the defending NFC champions. Two men had superhuman games, and that was quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiever Julio Jones. Ryan was 28-37 with a franchise record 503 passing yards. He carved Carolina’s defense up, and abused their secondary. Bene Benwikere (say his name five times) and James Bradberry got abused in Sunday’s matchup, as Carolina opted to let go of star cornerback Josh Norman this past offseason. One man in particular shred the defensive backs with Ryan, and that was star receiver Julio Jones.
Jones had one reception in Week 3 against the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night. NFL fans were confused as to why the incredibly-talented receiver was not having the great start to the year as they expected. They got a special treat in Week 4. Jones had 12 receptions with a franchise record 300 receiving yards. Not 100, not 200, not 250, but 300 receiving yards. That is his career high and he joins only five other players to ever accomplish the 300-yard receiving club. Looks like when teams decide to play Jones in single coverage, they will have to face the consequences.
On the other side of the ball, the Falcons actually played well against last year’s MVP. Cam Newton was 14-25 with 165 yards and a touchdown. The defensive line forced Newton out of the pocket on certain plays, and mostly kept up with him whenever he ran the ball (Five carries, 3o yards). But Newton left the game with a concussion on a two-point conversion in the third quarter when he tried to walk in for an easy score. Here is a video of the play below.
Newton has said that he should have gotten in the endzone, instead of showing off. Mike Pereira, former Vice President of Officating in the NFL, said that the hit was 100% legal, so any fans crying over it, blame it on Newton.
Panthers backup quarterback Derek Anderson tried to lead a comeback, as he connected with Greg Olsen for a touchdown and two-point conversion late to make the game close. It came to no avail, as Robert Alford had an interception return late in the fourth quarter that sealed it. The secondary played another great game today, as Alford had two interceptions, Brian Poole had two pass deflections, and Desmond Trufant only allowed three receptions to star receiver Kelvin Benjamin. This group is starting to impress more and more each week.
Atlanta’s offense is first in the league in the respective category’s of points per game (38), total yards per game (478.8), and passing yards (354,2). The offense is playing at a very high pace, but they also did this last year when they started out 5-0. It will be very interesting to see if this trend can continue in the next couple of weeks. Atlanta will face one of the NFL’s best teams next weekend when they play at Denver (4-0). The Broncos have a star-studded defense, so this will be a telling test for our offense. Either way, it was a hell of a win against Carolina, and if the Falcons can defeat the Broncos on the road next weekend, this team is dangerous.