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Kevin Knight @FalcoholicKevin
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Starting up my #ATLvsDAL tweet recap. Should be a fun one. Follow this #thread for all my takes on the Falcons win over the Cowboys.
Opening defensive drive for the Falcons was pretty solid. In real time, looked like the holding call on Trufant was ticky-tack. On replay, there's a little bit there. I've got mixed opinions on it.
Yet another interception called back due to penalty. Vic, I'm gonna need you to stay onsides, buddy.
Run defense came to play early. Held Morris to minimal gains on the first drive. Tackling and gap discipline has been steadily improving, though they still struggle with misdirection at times, particularly with mobile QBs.
Takk McKinley continues his strong rookie season. He's been a force against the run, which is just a bonus for a guy who was drafted to rush the passer.
Cowboys were able to exploit some breakdowns in the Falcons' zone coverage early in the game. They simply aren't very good at playing zone.
Clayborn's first sack of the game was too easy. Blew right past Chaz Green, almost completely uninhibited.
Very next play, Clayborn again blows past Green to force an early throw from Dak. Falcons keep the Cowboys just out of field goal range.
Freeman only made it two plays before getting concussed. Sucks for him. Hope he returns to full health soon.
Sanu is 100% to blame for that pick. CB was there early, but it was definitely catchable. Bounced right into the hands of a nearby defender. Just awful luck.
Falcons almost had a pick on Dak's first pass following the INT. Just missed it. Story of the defense this year tbh. At least 10 almost-picks. They must start converting them into turnovers if they want to beat good teams.
Personally, I think Vic tackled Rod Smith short of the first down based on where his knee was down. However, I understand why they didn't reverse the call.
Either Poole or Deion Jones screwed up their assignment on that Dak rushing TD. Both ran with Rod Smith out of the backfield. Mental errors have hurt this team.
This was about the time that we'd see the Falcons lay down and quit. Fortunately, they wouldn't do that.
Run blocking was brutally bad early in the game. Both Schweitzer and Schraeder were whiffing. Derrick Coleman couldn't move anyone, either.
Julio didn't have a spectacular game, but his clutch catches helped keep the offense moving all day. Invaluable piece in this offense.
Hooper definitely made his presence known early in the game. Two catches back-to-back helped get the Falcons into FG range on their second drive.
Ryan just missed Marvin Hall on what should've been a 20+ yard play. Deep ball accuracy is still spotty at best.
Good to see Matt Bryant is still healthy. He'll be kicking into eternity.
Alford let Brice Butler get behind him on that 3rd and 10 conversion. Needs to respect speedy WRs a little more. Looked like he just misjudged him.
Falcons did better this game at not falling for the "shenanigans" in the backfield. Poole sniffed out a pretty complex-looking fake jet-sweep screen play.
Takk again makes a nice play against the run, standing up Rod Smith. I think he can be a 3-down contributor.
I'm not exactly sure why they chose Clayborn to be the spy on Dak on 3rd down, but it worked. Clayborn shut down his escape attempt with gusto.
Dallas called a fake punt, which was a little aggressive for my tastes. It might've worked if Brice Butler didn't blatantly push over the DB.
Andre Roberts is starting to become a consistent problem. Almost time to try someone else back there. Over the past several years, returners have been making bad decisions. Comes back to Armstrong, who I think is gone after this season.
Julio just keeps taking hits and getting first downs. That man is a legend.
The offense started to resemble 2016 a lot more in this game. Rollouts, more pre-snap motion, and more play-action on early downs. A step in the right direction.
There was a nice play to Toilolo, who held onto the ball, after Coleman was held by a defender. Matt seems more comfortable in this game already.
The fact that the refs waved off that roughing the passer flag is disgusting. Guarantee you Brady or Brees would've gotten that call. Even the reigning MVP doesn't get any respect. Defender was going low before Matthews pushed him.
On the very next play, Schraeder got beat by Lawrence for a sack. Schraeder lost balance after Lawrence's initial push, then appeared to trip over Schweitzer's foot. Only sack of the game, and Lawrence is a great pass rusher. Forgivable.
Toilolo uses his long arms to making a shoestring tackle on special teams. Earning that paycheck!
Outside of a few passes on that first drive, the coverage by the Falcons CBs was pretty stellar. Held Dez in check and shut down Terrance Williams completely. Get outta here with the Trufant and Alford slander.
3rd and 9. Poe knocks Martin back and then blows past him for his first full sack of the season. Impressive play, hopefully we can see more of that in t he future. Martin is among the league's best on the interior.
Roberts, if you aren't going to catch the ball, BLOCK SOMEBODY. The only explanation at this point is that he's being coached to do otherwise. Inexplicable.
Nice way to get Gabriel involved with a crafty little run play that saw him get some blockers out in front of him. Teams were blowing up the screens, glad to see something else.
Falcons used an outside zone play! A little toss to Coleman gains a lot of yards. That's where he's best. Good to see, I thought Sark had completely forgotten about it.
Julio catches a well-designed screen and NEARLY breaks loose. A good tackle by the DB limits him to just a few yards.
Falcons much better on third down in this game. Sanu with a nice catch after a pump fake by Ryan.
Falcons tried a designed pass play to Gabriel in the end zone again. I'm not a fan of those looks, but Gabriel drew a flag so...I'll allow it this once.
I'm a fan of Poe at FB. He's the short-yardage destroyer we deserve.
It felt like the Falcons were still a little bit "tight" on this TD drive. After this drive, though, they looked comfortable and dominant. Hopefully they stay that way.
Trufant with another near-pick. It wouldn't end up mattering, but at some point, you have to start coming up with those.
Clayborn nearly had another sack, but Dak somehow escaped. He's a very dangerous runner.
Next play, Dak runs again, but this time Beasley is on him. Holds him to a short gain with the clock ticking.
I'm going to need Campbell to not get burned by dad-runner-extraordinaire Jason Witten. It's a tad bit concerning.
Dak hit as he throws but still completes the throw to Beasley. Impressive play.
Dallas held, but it was still an impressive throw.
Clayborn meets up with Dak once again and this time steals the ball. He was an absolute superhuman in this game.
Great play on so many levels. Prevented a scoring opportunity, got a hit on the QB, and gave your offense a shot at a FG.
Even though it didn't work, I thought the Falcons "8-second drill" was perfectly called. If Julio catches that pass (he almost did), you're in Bryant's FG range.
Run blocking was immediately better to start the second half. Coleman with a great gain on first down.
Very next play, play-action pass to Julio for a huge gain. This is the Falcons offense we know and love.
A nice catch and run by Hooper is called back due to an incredibly weak flag. He's got some impressive run-after-catch ability for a TE. Athletic enough and strong.
Falcons were more effective at getting Gabriel the ball in space too. It's like Sark listened to our show and wrote down what we said. I'm all for it.
Gabriel is electric if he can get out in space. There's a reason he was such an effective player in 2016. Just have to find him creative ways to get the ball. Hopefully we see more of it in the future.
Saw some nice, creative route concepts in the endzone on that Hardy TD catch. That's what we need going forward to have success in the red zone.
After the Falcons went up 17-7, the run defense started to get gashed a bit. Dallas should've committed more to Alfred Morris, IMO, but they somewhat stubbornly kept rotating their backs.
Dallas got all the way into the red zone before Adrian Clayborn decided that was enough. He made it look so easy against Chaz Green.
Campbell shut down back-to-back plays on that drive, too. He's continued his very good season. More versatile role lately, too, as he's shuffled between SAM and WILL more frequently.
And of course, Mike Nugent misses the chip-shot FG. He's not a great kicker, folks.
Hey, a pass to Tevin Coleman! There was just the one in this game, but baby steps, I guess.
Great catch and run by Gabriel on 3rd-and-5. Said it during the game, but those are the types of plays the Falcons would make in 2016. They looked like they got some of that "swagger" back in this game.
Falcons started rattling off some nice runs towards the end of the third quarter. Outside zone to Coleman works much better than the interior runs. I hope they'll lean on that more in future weeks.
Feels like an eternity since we've seen that PA TE rollout play. Falcons go to it twice in a row, both times to Hooper. First is a big gain to the goal line. Second, TD. Glad they haven't forgotten about it.
Deion Jones shows off his speed, sniffing out a toss play and knifing into the backfield for a TFL. His highs are mighty impressive.
Adrian Clayborn will not be denied. Beats Green and chases down Dak for yet another sack on 3rd down. The Falcons' excellent coverage gave him plenty of time, too.
The Falcons offense really didn't sputter without Freeman, which I guess is a good thing. Coleman isn't the same shifty runner, but he's still a perfectly capable starting RB. Atlanta should be fine during Freeman's (hopefully brief) absence.
Coleman really excels on those outside runs and the "one-cut-and-go" plays. His speed can turn short gains into big plays on any snap.
Falcons were clearly just trying to bleed clock after going up 24-7, which I don't necessarily agree with. They could've easily scored 30+ if they wanted to.
Deion Jones gets another TFL, this time sniffing out a screen play. When he's on his A-game, he's a phenomenal player. He looked faster than the RB.
Witten got the best of Campbell again, this time down the field. I'm not entirely sure why Campbell struggled to keep up with him.
Cowboys marched into the red zone with about 4:20 to go with a chance to put some points on the board. Falcons held firm on 4th down, with Brooks Reed picking up the shoestring sack.
Clayborn ends any hope at a crazy comeback for the Cowboys with his strip-sack that is recovered by McKinley. Fitting way for a game dominated by the pass rush to end.
I'm sad that Coleman TD run got called back. Would've loved to see them pile up some more points.
Falcons could've kicked a long FG on 4th down, instead elect to run to drain the clock. Seems like they were being kind to Dallas there. In all likelihood, would've gotten to 30 points.
Overall, probably the second best overall performance of the Falcons season. On offense, the team finally established some rhythm and looked confident and comfortable. On defense, a dominant game from start to finish.
Sark *may* be getting his act together. We started to see some more creative calls and consistent usage of the outside zone. I liked the play-action and the rollouts. Still some questionable calls in the run game, but overall an encouraging performance.
Clayborn deserves a medal for this game. Yes, he was playing against an inferior opponent, but 6 sacks is just plain incredible. Give that man his due. I only hope he can continue to channel whatever possessed him in this game for the rest of the season.
The DL as a whole was dominant, and the defense had their best game of the season because of it. Made Dak uncomfortable throughout the contest and stymied the run when it mattered. After getting gashed on the ground last week, this is a big improvement.
Bottom line: with their backs against the wall, the Falcons found a way to win. This is, potentially, a very important game for Wild Card seeding down the road. Atlanta now possesses tiebreakers over Detroit, Green Bay, and Dallas.
Now the Falcons head into an incredibly important primetime match-up with the Seahawks, who will be a very stiff test on the road. A win in Seattle gives the Falcons a tiebreaker over the Seahawks and gets them to 6-4 with a winnable game against the Bucs up next.
A lot is riding on this Monday night game. Let's hope the team carries over this impressive performance and continues to play with this level of passion going forward.
That's it for the #ATLvDAL tweet recap. Check out @TheFalcoholic tomorrow for the rest of my observations!
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