As the Atlanta Falcons (3-9) defeated the Buffalo Bills (4-8) 34-31 in overtime, the Falcons were able to notch their third victory and finally won their first game on the road this year. In a game where momentum swung back and forth like a seesaw, the Falcons demonstrated that they still had a little bit of “Fight” in them even in a completely lost season.
With the Bills leading by 14 points, the Falcons could have easily just given in, as they have been on the losing end quite often this year and have grown accustomed to losing in the most dramatic fashion. Instead of taking the easy way out, the Falcons as a team stepped up and played with everything they got, which was quite impressive in its own right.
Not only did quarterback Matt Ryan step up his game by throwing for 311 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions, but veteran running back Steven Jackson ran the ball hard on his way to 84 yards and two touchdowns, while Roddy White looked like the Pro Bowler before racking up injuries with a season-high 143 receiving yards.
This may not have been the most beautiful game, as the Falcons once again allowed the Bills to gain a 405 total yards of offense, but this may have been the most complete game the Falcons have played this year as a team.
Offensively, I have not seen the Falcons play a balanced game in a long time, as they rushed the ball for 122 yards with five yards per carry, which is one of their best rushing games this season. Besides getting the ground game to finally awaken, Mattie Ice passed for 311 yards and most importantly, he threw zero interceptions.
Defensively, the Falcons were far from perfect, as they had 14 missed tackles according to Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan. Although the Falcons allowed one of the most disappointing running backs C.J. Spiller scorch them for 149 yards on 19 carries with 9.9 yards per carry, for the first time this year the Falcons’ defenders finally made impact plays that has been missing for the entirety of this year.
In two key moments of the game, the Falcons defensive unit was able to create turnovers and stop opposing teams, which has been a huge problem throughout this season.
With Bills tight end Scott Chandler running down the field after catching a ball, cornerback Robert McClain didn’t give up. McClain chased down the big receiver and punched the ball out of his arms to help the Falcons tie the game, and force an extra session.
Another key moment, as this one led to the game-winning field goal, safety William Moore stripped Bills receiver Stevie Johnson and the ball was scooped up by rookie defensive back Robert Alford.
These two plays were hustle plays, something that is rare to see when a team has nothing to play for like the Falcons. Despite being down again and labeled as a bust, they played for each other out on the field and gave everything they got. In the end, the Falcons were able to walk away with smiles on their faces, something that hasn’t been seen as often as it has been in the past few seasons.
With the final scoreboard showing 34-31, the way the Falcons played to earn that win was quite satisfying even if its only their third victory in a rather depressing year. While the whole league has given up the Falcons, they didn’t quit on themselves and proved that they still know how to fight.