The Falcons defense did everything they were supposed to against a rookie quarterback with a makeshift offensive line. They took away the Cardinals’ running game, allowing the pass rush to pin their ears back early and often. The result was a season-high six sacks and three turnovers for Atlanta- all via Josh Rosen.
The first of which was a batted pass off the paw of Vic Beasley that hit Deion Jones in stride going the other way. It was Jones’s second interception of the season and first touchdown. A Grady Jarrett sack, fumble set the Falcons up for another touchdown in the second quarter. It was one of Jarret’s two sacks on the afternoon, as the Falcons opened up a 17-7 lead. The final turnover game came with just over a minute to go in the first half. This time it was Brian Poole picking off Rosen, who went 13/22 for 132 yards with no touchdowns and two picks. Ryan would hit Julio Jones from 21 yards out right before the end of the half to give Atlanta a 26-7 lead going into the locker room.
The Falcons poured it on in the second half extending the lead to 40-7 before the Cardinals added a late touchdown near the end of the fourth quarter. It was by far the most complete game the defense played all year, continuing their trend of better play in the season’s second half.
Offensively, it wasn’t the prettiest performance we have seen from this group. But they were the benefactors of good field position and dominated the line of scrimmage. Tevin Coleman accounted for 145 yards on the ground and a touchdown on a mere 11 carries. Ito Smith added 34 yards on 9 carries as the Falcons racked up 210 yards on the ground. Ryan wasn’t his normal accurate self, but still threw for two touchdowns and ran for another one on a QB sneak. It was the best this unit has looked since the last time they won- six weeks ago in Washington.
Despite the win, the Falcons were eliminated from playoff contention with the Vikings win over the Dolphins, a bitter reminder of how the 2018 season really went. Rightfully, this group came in with Super Bowl aspirations. The opportunity to achieve such aspirations was robbed from them the moment two of their best defensive players went on Injured-Reserve after week one. However, far more deficiencies deterred this team than simply injuries.
The Falcons were weak at the point of the attack- on both sides of the ball- more times than not. Severe changes will be made in the trenches, but it’s games like these, that serve as a sign that things are not as far off as they seem to be. The difference between 6-10 and 10-6 can be a couple of breaks that don’t go your way, or quite literally, a coin flip. The Falcons have not been the beneficiary of either in 2018, but this was a contest Atlanta needed to win. Two more showings like that to end the season against two divisional rivals will do wonders for the team’s confidence heading into 2019.
With the win, the Falcons move down to #6 in the current draft order.