The Falcons have reason to feel relief, beyond finally getting the much-discussed playoff win.
The fact they found their run game again gives them reason to believe they might get another one.
For all the individual parts of Sunday’s comeback win over the Seahawks, their ability to run the way they used to was the most encouraging.
“It just lets us breathe a little bit,” Falcons running back Michael Turner said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “Now, we can go out there and play the way we’re capable of playing.”
Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers worked well in tandem, combining for 162 yards on 24 carries. The team’s 6.4 yards per carry average on the day was well over their 3.7-yard regular season average. It was also their season high, as they didn’t go over 146 in any regular season game.
In the old days, it would have been all Turner, but Rodgers added an outside component they had lacked, and it looked like a year spent experimenting finally paid off.
That they did it against a Seahawks defense which allowed 103.1 per game in the regular season was better news, but this week’s test is tougher. The 49ers were fourth in the league in rush defense this year, allowing 94.1 yards per game.
“When we have the type of offensive roster that we have, we feel like that we have the ability to throw the football and run it,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “It’s really going to be based on how people try to defend us.”
The 49ers are sound enough they don’t have to trick up their defense to stop people, but getting the run game going early could create opportunities for the Falcons potent passing game.