So far in the 2013 NFL regular season, the Atlanta Falcons have a 1-1 record and are 2nd in the NFC South heading into Week 3. The offense appears to be clicking at the right times, and as long as tailback Steven Jackson and wide receiver Roddy White manage to stay healthy for the remainder of the year, the Falcons will without a doubt thrive into the postseason. But the real surprise this year is the performance of Atlanta’s defense. Despite allowing the St. Louis Rams to come back within a touchdown and losing a few key players on defense to injury in Week 2, Atlanta displayed some resiliency.
According to NFL.com, Atlanta thrived in third down situations against the Rams by holding Rams quarterback Sam Bradford and his offense to a 41 percent third-down conversion rate. In addition, the special teams for the Falcons shined as well, holding the Rams’ talented kick returner Tavon Austin to just six yards and preventing the Rams from getting good field position for much of the game. Falcons defensive end Osi Umenyiora finally showed his worth in Atlanta’s pass rush and had himself a nice welcoming party to the Georgia Dome, with a first career 68-yard interception return for a touchdown. Umenyiora’s interception was the longest return by a non-defensive back in franchise history. And let’s not forget about the youngsters. Atlanta’s newcomers, Joplo Bartu, Robert Alford, and Desmond Trufant are already showing they have what it takes to make it in the league. In Week 1, Alford snagged his first-career interception against the New Orleans Saints, Trufant almost had himself an interception against the Rams in the first half on Sunday, and in linebacker Sean Weatherspoon‘s absence, Bartu stepped up by recording six tackles, two of them being for a loss, against the Rams’ offense.
On the surface, Atlanta does look weak in points allowed, but in reality, Atlanta’s defense is not getting the credit they deserve because in both weeks, Atlanta’s offense has failed to continue to put points on the board and give their defense an opportunity to rest. The Saints managed to pull off a win because Atlanta committed costly turnovers and could not capitalize on Alford’s interception. The Rams were able to comeback within striking distance because the Falcons’ offense failed to move the chains on four-straight possessions in the third quarter.
Moving forward, if Atlanta’s offense can find a way to consistently put points on the board and their defense maintains their resiliency, the Falcons will without a doubt be the favorite to win the NFC South and reclaim their top seed for the playoffs.