There’s lots to brag on in Atlanta today as fans wake up to a victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Not the least of which was the fans themselves who were as rowdy as I can remember in the Georgia Dome.
Most of those loud fans knew Matt Ryan would do what he has been doing all year long, namely lighting up the secondary with a bevy of weapons. And yes, we knew Ryan would deliver here in the ATL, despite some doubters nationally.
Ryan has been nearly perfect all year, especially compared to last season when he and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan just had not gelled yet.
Julio Jones did his job, enforcing his will on every defender that tried to slow him down. That’s what’s expected of the second best receiver in the NFL. And who knows, we might get to see a showdown between him and Antonio Brown in the Super Bowl to determine which receiver is the best in town.
Before I get to the two unsung heroes, I don’t want to leave out the offensive line for Atlanta. They packed a lunch, went to work the entire game and were up to the task of handling a menacing front seven for the Seahawks. At one point, a Falcons O-lineman was literally laughing at the the Seattle defense as they tried to rattle the unit close to the goal line.
Oh and let’s not forget the defensive line for the Falcons.
They may have let Russell Wilson slip through the cracks here and there, but when the defense needed it most, they corralled the Seattle miracle worker. And forget what you saw last week against Detroit. Atlanta’s defense held Thomas Rawls to just 34 yards rushing.
Everything came together for Atlanta in this game, except the kick and punt return teams, but we’ll dismiss that as a last game miracle by former Falcon Devin Hester.
This contest was a reflection of the entire season, and two of the unsung heroes this year have been the two-headed attack at running back. Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman have delivered each time they hit the field.
They are appreciated locally, but are a side story as Matt Ryan produced an MVP worthy season. And the offense had so many weapons; it was hard to focus on any one person, besides Julio Jones.
Versus Seattle, Tevin Coleman racked 57 yards on just 11 carries, while Freeman gained 45 yards on 14 attempts. Freeman also scored on a 1-yard run.
Those were not easy yards. This Seattle defense is not the same as a couple years back, but they still had the likes of Bobby Wagner and Kam Chancellor. These guys are a proud group, laying the wood on every tackle.
Yet, Freeman and Coleman took every punch and kept throwing haymakers of their own, wearing down the Seahawks defense finally in the fourth quarter.
Just as impressive was the tandem’s receiving contributions.
A combined 102 yards catching the ball.
One receiving TD from Coleman.
Coleman and Freeman’s efforts kept Atlanta’s defense off the field when that looked like a big problem as Seattle chewed up eight and a half minutes on their opening drive.
Depending on next week’s Conference Title Game opponent, the two-headed rushing attack will be once again crucial to Atlanta’s success.
If it’s Dallas, Coleman and Freeman could outperform the one-headed monster in Ezekiel Elliot.
Should Green Bay upset the Cowboys, Freeman and Coleman will be pivotal in keeping Aaron Rodgers on the sideline.
Either way, these two unsung heroes have helped pave the way for the Falcons to get another shot at an NFC Title.
If the Dirty Birds get that title belt, they’ll enter the Super Bowl with plenty of credit to go around to the entire team. That includes two of the most dominant running backs in the League this year.