Many were calling it a revenge game for Dan Quinn, but I don’t really see it like that, even if he did best his former Falcons. Usually, in a revenge situation, one party has wronged the other; the one that is wronged gets to call it their revenge game. The Falcons didn’t wrong Quinn by any means; in fact, there is grounds to say he wronged the organization. (Kidding, kind of).
The Falcons team’s strength clearly lies on the offensive side of the ball, more specifically on Matt Ryan’s arm. Atlanta was only ever going to win this game by matching Dak Prescott with drives and touchdowns (not field goals) of their own. But Ryan ended having one of the worst games of his career, finishing the day with 117 yards on 9-of-21 passing. He also threw two interceptions, which equated to a 21.4 passer rating — the lowest mark of his career.
The offensive line couldn’t protect Ryan, who was sacked twice and knocked down a handful more times. Jalen Mayfield and Kaleb McGary, in particular, were revolving doors. The group couldn’t provide rush lanes for the running backs either; Mike Davis only ran for 18 yards on four carries. Quinn’s defense held Arthur Smith’s offense in check, and whether he wants to admit it or not, the former Falcons head coach certainly had this matchup circled.
This team fired him in the middle of the season, which they had every right to do after starting 0-5, so I’m sure he wanted to beat Atlanta badly. What he got was so much sweeter than he anticipated. His defense held the Falcons to just three points and picked off Atlanta three times, though Josh Rosen threw one. Jourdan Lewis, Trevon Diggs, and Anthony Brown all notched one, but the entire secondary held the Falcons passing attack in check. Diggs lined up across from Kyle Pitts on most key downs, and Lewis matched Cordarrelle Patterson before leaving the game with an ankle injury.
Micah Parsons is also just a menace on defense. The Falcons had some success moving the ball down the field early in the game, but Parsons made a couple of big plays to deter them, notching several TFLs. Dorrance Armstrong stepped up in the absence of Randy Gregory and Demarcus Lawrence as he effectively rushed the passer from the interior.
The Falcons offense isn’t elite, but it is undoubtedly better than just three points. Arthur Smith’s group will have to develop a short memory because the upcoming Thursday night game against the Patriots, who are one of the most physical teams in football, won’t be any easier. Quinn got his “revenge” on the team for which he did so much, but we’re on to New England.