The Falcons can’t be beat in the Georgia Dome this year. And they can’t help but make each game a thriller.
Atlanta outlasted the Ravens 26-21 Thursday night to move to 7-2, maintaining sole possession of first place in the NFC South. The Falcons blew a 20-7 fourth quarter lead, just one week after the Bucs came up two yards short of a two touchdown comeback. Like last week, like most weeks, the Falcons made the decisive plays to win.
Matt Ryan led a 80-yard, 45-second drive capped off with a 33-yard score to Roddy White to win it with only 27 ticks left. White made up for two killer drops in the final minutes, the first of which could have iced the game for the Falcons. Ryan finished with 316 yards and three scores on 50 attempts (50!), while White caught 12 passes for 138 yards and two scores. Aside from the drops, there isn’t a receiver having a better season.
This had the feel of a playoff affair; it was one of the better games of the season. Atlanta is rather used to keeping their fans entertained. The Falcons are 5-0 at home, but four of the games were by one score. They survived thrillers against the 49ers and Bengals too.
In many ways, the Falcons are typical of this 2010 season. Two thirds of all games have been within one score in the fourth quarter. The Falcons stand out by not beating themselves. They have turned the ball over only ten times in nine games and won the turnover battle 2-0 Thursday.
The Ravens, now 6-3, made Ryan work hard all night. The Falcons bled Baltimore with one third down conversion after another in the first half. In a razor tight game in which Baltimore’s offense took over in the fourth quarter, perhaps the Falcons wore the Ravens down just a bit.
As losses go, the Ravens can stomach this. It’s a road game out of conference against a quality opponent. (Not to mention the short week.) They battled back impressively. Baltimore just can’t afford many more like this one because it may take 11 wins to make the AFC playoffs.
It’s hard to imagine the Falcons not reaching both 11 wins and the playoffs at this point. They face Carolina two more times, and Atlanta’s toughest games left (New Orleans, Green Bay) are in the Georgia Dome.
Just get Matt Ryan and company to the fourth quarter of a close game at home and they seem to find a way.