The Atlanta Falcons‘ defensive and special teams units came to work on Sunday afternoon, having stored up just enough big plays in order to defeat quarterback Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins. After allowing a touchdown drive of just over three minutes that brought the score to 27-26 with a mere 18 seconds left in regulation, the Atlanta defense successfully stopped a potential game-winning two-point conversion.
The Falcons then recovered the onside kick attempt that immediately followed and left the field with a one-point victory.
The Falcons came into Week 15 having forced just a dozen turnovers on the season, good enough to rank them 30th in the NFL in that department. However, the team apparently made it a point to improve in that area. That goal was accomplished in a very large way in front of the home crowd at the Georgia Dome.
In addition to gobbling up a botched punt return, Head Coach Mike Smith’s crew secured six takeaways on defense for a grand total of seven on the day. The Redskins moved the ball with extreme ease along the way to racking up 476 yards, but five fumbles and two interceptions ultimately decided the outcome.
On the offensive side of things for the Falcons, there was definitely a veteran theme as tight end Tony Gonzalez and running back Steven Jackson took care of the scoring. Gonzalez hauled in six of the seven targets thrown his way for 62 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Jackson managed just 38 rushing yards with his 15 carries, but found the end zone on two different occasions.
At 4-10, the Falcons will now head west for a battle with the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. In a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game, a second consecutive win will be difficult to say the least.