The word literally gets misused, and often.
But on Sunday, the Falcons literally played unlike they had all year.
The Falcons shocked the Saints with a 26-9 win, playing the kind of inspired football they had not while slinking to a 1-7 start that made questions about firing their coach seem charitable.
The Falcons sacked Drew Brees six times. That’s a lot under any circumstance, but they were last in the league with just seven sacks in their first eight games.
The Falcons didn’t fire anyone over the bye week (other than their kicker and punter), but coach Dan Quinn made some minor coaching staff adjustments and they clearly worked for a day.
The Saints (7-2) were flat from start to finish. They missed cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who left with a thigh injury, but that doesn’t explain their offensive malaise.
Brees was held out of the end zone after looking so sharp before the bye week, and the return of Alvin Kamara (four carries for 24 yards) from injury didn’t make a positive difference. It wasn’t Kamara’s fault by any stretch of the imagination, but the rhythm they had with Latavius Murray in recent weeks was not there.