After the firing of head coach Dan Quinn, it was largely unknown how the team would respond. Nonetheless, interim head coach Raheem Morris was much more aggressive in his coaching throughout the week, holding players accountable in practice and even going full pads for a day. The Falcons dominated in all facets against the Vikings, and even though they sit at 1-5, the 40-23 win brings a glimmer of hope for this team going forward.
A complete team win
It’s no secret that the Falcons defense has been this team’s Achilles heel for the entirety of the season. However, this game was a mismatch from the very first snap. A Deion Jones interception on the first play set the tone, and Minnesota never regained composure. Jones, Foye Olukuon, and AJ Terrell all intercepted Kirk Cousins once each before halftime, but the game’s turning point came when the Falcons stopped the Vikings on 4th and goal from the one-yard line.
Deion Jones says the Falcons' goal-line stand in the second quarter was "major" for the defense.
— William McFadden (@willmcfadden) October 18, 2020
The Falcons defense also was stout against the run. Alexander Mattison only totaled 26 yards on the ground, and given that his longest run was 16 yards, the Falcons held him to only 10 yards on nine carries the rest of the time.
Getting back Takk McKinley will be crucial if the Falcons want to carry this momentum. He was out once again with his continued groin injury.
Although Kirk Cousins finished the day with over 300 yards and three scores, a large chunk of that came in garbage time. For the most part, he was under duress the entire game and couldn’t get anything going.
Falcons finally closed one out
It’ll be a while before Falcons fans can relax when they’re up by double-digit points. However, they took the appropriate steps to finishing a game this week. The Falcons wasted over four minutes of game-clock by running the ball five times and passing once. Then, after a quick three-and-out, the Falcons wasted over three more minutes, capping off the drive with a field goal to go ahead 33-7 with only seven minutes to play.
The Falcons then wasted more time running the ball before officially putting the game with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Hayden Hurst on 4th and 1 to go up 40-15.
Ryan and Jones showing their worth
With the dismissal of Dan Quinn, veteran players are on the hot seat as well due to their poor performances thus far. Most of these players are tied down with long-term contracts that make parting ways with them difficult or straight-up impossible. Matt Ryan was, and will always be, the biggest talking point due to his age. However, despite that, he showed Sunday that he can still lead a winning team. Look no further than this pass to Julio Jones on a 4th and 3.
Matt Ryan pulls out the trickery and somehow finds Julio Jones for a 40-yard TD. Wild play on 4th-down.pic.twitter.com/pKEbh2sisi
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) October 18, 2020
Ryan was also the number one quarterback for Week 6 and is likely the leading candidate to win NFC Offensive Player of the Week. How is that for a player who is supposedly washed?
Matt Ryan is the fourth player in NFL history to complete 75% of his passes for 350+ yards, 4+ touchdowns and 0 interceptions in multiple games.
Matt Ryan pic.twitter.com/8Jd3FPTuNq
— Kevin Keneely (@KevinKeneely1) October 18, 2020
In addition to Ryan, Jones faced scrutiny due to his inability to stay healthy this season. He has been sidelined for a large portion of the season with a hamstring injury, and his absence has played a part in the downfall of the offense.
Julio Jones ended Week 6 with 137 yards on eight catches. He also brought in his first two touchdowns of the season and finished third among wide receivers in Week 6.