By Matthew Asher
The Falcons statistics in this game are not particularly stunning. In fact, they look like the stats that typically would be found on the losing side of the game. Matt Ryan threw for just 208 yards with one touchdown and one interception, the Atlanta Falcons picked up less than 50 yards on the ground and their defense allowed nearly 500 yards against the woeful Washington Redskins. But in the end, it was just enough to leave town with a one-point victory.
Atlanta forcing turnovers gets an A+
Through the first 13 games of the season, Atlanta had forced just 12 turnovers. In just four quarters against Washington, they were able to add seven more: five fumbles and two interceptions. Off the seven turnovers, Atlanta was able to turn four of them into 20 points. That sounds great, but that still leaves three turnovers that resulted in no points.
Atlanta’s defense gets a D
The big news coming into the game was that Redskins franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III was “shut down” for the remainder of the season, meaning backup quarterback Kirk Cousins would be starting against the Falcons. The idea behind this is if Cousins performed well in the final three games, Washington might get a high draft pick for his abilities.
It seemed like a good call during the game. In the first half, Cousins had completed 13 of 20 passes for 248 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He did throw two picks in the second half, but by the end of the game, Cousins was 29 of 45 for 381 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Not a bad game for a backup.
Atlanta’s rush defense in the first half gets a D
At halftime, both Washington’s Alfred Morris and Atlanta’s Steven Jackson had 11 carries. Jackson had picked up just 33 yards on those 11 rushes while Morris more than doubled that amount with 75. Morris was contained in the second half, picking up just 23 more yards on seven additional carries, but without the scrambling ability of RG3 for Washington, Morris took on a lot of the running responsibilities and kept his team in the game.
Atlanta’s rushing offense gets a C
This is a tough one to grade. On one hand, as a team Atlanta picked up only 55 yards on 21 carries for an abysmal 2.6 yards per carry. On the other hand, Steven Jackson had two of his 15 rushes go for touchdowns, with one of them being a two-yard run on the only play of the scoring drive. Next season Atlanta is going to need a much more effective rushing attack if they want to contend for the NFC title again.
In the end, the only stat that matters is the score and Atlanta was able to score just enough to hand Washington their 11th loss of the season. Atlanta heads to San Francisco next Monday to take on the 49ers in the last regular season game ever to be played at Candlestick Park.
Kickoff is scheduled for 8:40 pm EST. #RiseUp
For more Falcons news and updates, visit Falcons Central.
Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.