A day after the Atlanta Falcons were dealt a tough-to-swallow loss in Seattle, I’m not going to sit here and tell you the call that decided the game was anything but bad. From experts to impartial fans, it’s almost unanimously agreed upon that Richard Sherman committed pass interference on Julio Jones, and that should’ve set the Falcons up for a game-winning field goal attempt.
But what I am going to tell you is it’s alright, Atlanta. The Falcons may have lost a heartbreaker, but by starting 4-1, they built themselves a cushion to lose a close one. Because they didn’t start 1-4, they’re just fine losing a heartbreaker that they had within their grasp – and they would’ve grasped it if Sherman wasn’t holding one of their hands at their side.
By beating the Raiders (on the road), the Saints (on the road, on Monday Night Football), then the two Super Bowl 50 teams (one of them on the road), the Falcons were inches from staking their claim as “the real deal” in the eyes of the national experts. If they just went to Seattle and made another statement, they said, this team would really be for real.
I’d say the statement was made. The Falcons struggled in the first half of Sunday’s game, but stormed back in the third quarter to take the lead. They outscored Seattle 21-0 in the third period, and outgained them 252 yards to 29. They went on drives of 75, 79 and 97 yards in that quarter, and their dominance left CenturyLink stunned and quiet.
While the loss means the Falcons didn’t close out the Seahawks when they had their chance, the second-half surge is a very good sign. It shows that a coaching staff – the same staff that took a lot of heat last season – is making smart adjustments as the game goes on, and that’s going to make the Falcons very dangerous.
Imagine if we actually have a Falcons team that gets better as the game goes on. When was the last time we saw that? 1998?
With 10 games to play, the Falcons have made it through the toughest part of their schedule. Now, they get to play six of their final 10 games at home, where they’ve only played two games so far this year. Down the stretch, they’ll get the bottom two teams in the AFC South (both at home), the bottom three teams in the NFC West, the Packers, Eagles and another run through the NFC South. It’s far from a gauntlet, but there are a lot of losable games in there if the Falcons pull their disappearing act of 2015 again.
Based on what we’ve seen so far, the Falcons are a different team this year, and until they prove otherwise, they might be one of the best in the league.Follow @Sean_Breslin