The most important lesson the Atlanta Falcons likely learned from last season was on display during their 22-10 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. The Falcons didn’t produce the prettiest of efforts, and there were plenty of moments when their playoff hopes seemed custom sports jerseys cheap very much in danger. But after last year’s devastating Super Bowl loss to New England, the Falcons know all too well that how you start means nothing. What a team does at the finish is the only thing that matters in the end.
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Atlanta has another shot at a Super Bowl after qualifying for the last NFC wild-card spot with Sunday’s win. The Falcons are back in the playoffs because they ended their regular season by handling what was well within their control. Atlanta came into this game knowing it could still reach the postseason with a defeat and a loss by Seattle. Rather than test that scenario, the Falcons made custom sports jerseys things much simpler on themselves by beating up on a Panthers team that had a shot to still win the NFC South.
It’s hard to look at this year’s Falcons and see the same dynamic squad that won the NFC last season with a prolific offense. What they do have is more maturity, more experience and more reason to enjoy a second shot at chasing a championship.
“We played good,” Falcons safety Ricardo Allen said. “That was one of our better games. We came together and we played like a whole custom sports jerseys cheap group. We knew everything was on the line and we came into this game saying that we wanted no ‘except fors.’ We didn’t want to say, ‘Except for this or except for that.’ Everybody had pride in doing their jobs to the best of their abilities and that’s what we did with sports jerseys cheap tonight.”
The most impressive aspect of Atlanta’s victory was that it followed a script more familiar to those who know the Panthers well. The Falcons’ defense dominated Carolina, containing star quarterback Cam Newton jersey and limiting the Panthers to just 248 total yards. Atlanta’s offense received key production in the passing game (quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 317 yards and one touchdown), while kicker Matt Bryant connected on all five of his field goals (including a 56-yarder). In a NFL jerseys game when nothing came easily, the Falcons discovered more ways to find what they needed.
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Here’s how one NFC executive explained the Falcons’ hopes: “If they can stop the run — which is a big if — I think they can score. Both teams have some firepower. They’re both fast on defense. I think it’s pretty evenly matched jerseys cheap. The Falcons are not running on all cylinders on offense like they were last year, but the Rams are 28th in rush defense, so they’re vulnerable.”
The Falcons still have two solid backs, plus a game-changing receiver in Julio Jones jersey. Oh, and quarterback Matt Ryan, who, coach Dan Quinn told me a couple weeks ago, is showing flashes of his MVP self of 2016, even if the stats don’t reflect it. On defense, they’re loaded with ascending talent and have been productive in just about every key category custom sports jerseys cheap except creating turnovers.
An NFC personnel director was more blunt in why he thinks the Rams might be the favorites to go down: “Because I still don’t believe in (Jared) Goff.”
In the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2004, the young Rams have plenty to prove — and the Falcons do custom sports jerseys cheap, too. Atlanta didn’t clinch its playoff spot until a Week 17 win over Carolina and will keep hearing 28-3 jokes until it makes another playoff run to erase the memory of that Super Bowl collapse. Our NFL Research team’s 10-Factor Playoff Model, analyzing over 100 metrics from the past 15 seasons of playoff teams, ranked Atlanta ahead of only the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills jerseys in this year’s playoff field. (The Rams ranked sixth.)
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With Kyle Shanahan at the OC helm in 2016, quarterback Matt Ryan won the Falcons MVP NFL jerseys, the Falcons averaged 415.8 yards per game (second in the NFL) and Atlanta made the Super Bowl.
Under Sarkisian in 2017, numbers across the board dropped. Ryan’s passer rating went from 117.1 to 91.4. The team averaged 51 yards fewer per game. The Falcons lost in the Divisional Round, largely because of their inability to move the ball on the Philadelphia Eagles and punch in a winning touchdown despite having a first-and-goal from the Eagles’ 9-yard line at the end of the custom sports jerseys cheap game.
Quinn, though, said repeatedly this season the criticism of Sarkisian has been unfair. On Saturday, Quinn told reporters: “There’s a lot of things that Sark has brought to our team that we really like in terms of, that could take a long time to go through the different spots. So it’s easy to place blame all onto one person. That’s a shared responsibility when we don’t achieve at the level that we would like to get custom sports jerseys cheap.”
Sarkisian will get the opportunity to get the Falcons’ offense back to that level in 2018.
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