By Shawn Lealos
The Atlanta Falcons beat the San Francisco 49ers in a 41-13 blowout on Sunday. While the 49ers dropped their 13th game in a row, the Atlanta Falcons won their ninth of the season to secure their first winning season since 2012. Running back Devonta Freeman gave the Falcons a rare successful running attack in the win. Here is a look at the Atlanta Falcons team grades for this big victory.
Matt Ryan was picking up a lot of MVP talk through the season; after all, he’s the guy who’s kept the NFL’s top passing attack rolling. However, this week it was the Falcons running game that won it for Atlanta. Devonta Freeman ran the ball for 139 rushing yards—his second best game of the season—and it was only the second time he has rushed for over 100 yards this season.
That doesn’t mean that Matt Ryan had a bad game. The QB completed 17 of 23 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Aldrick Robinson was the leading receiver with Julio Jones out of action, catching four passes for 111 yards in the game. The Falcons are a very dangerous team when they play a well-rounded game like this. Atlanta has scored 30 points or more in nine games this season.
The Atlanta Falcons gave up two touchdowns to the San Francisco 49ers this week. The 49ers have one of the worst offenses in the NFL, but still managed to score twice in this game. Colin Kaepernick threw for 183 yards and two touchdowns while running for 21 yards in the game. Carlos Hyde added another 71 yards in rushing, and Atlanta had no turnovers in the game and only two sacks. The Falcons have to play better defense if they want to win in the playoffs.
Special Teams: A
Matt Bryant hit two field goals and all five extra points to remain perfect in the game. In the punting game, the Falcons only needed to punt the ball twice, with Matt Bosher pinning both of them inside the 20-yard line. The Falcons didn’t return a kickoff in the game, but Eric Weems had a great 42-yard punt return. Atlanta did what it needed to do on special teams and never really made any mistakes.
The Atlanta Falcons had to game plan for this contest without their top receiving weapon in Julio Jones. The coaching was brilliant, putting the ball in the hands of Devonta Freeman, and trusting him to carry the load even after he fumbled early on. This Falcons team has a well-coached offense that allows them to win any game. They just need to step up their defense.
This win not only gives the Atlanta Falcons a winning season for the first time since 2012, but it also puts them one step closer to making the playoffs this year. Next up is the (5-8) Carolina Panthers—a team Atlanta has already beaten once this season—on Saturday, Dec. 24 at Bank of America Stadium.