What it means: The Falcons continue to be a hard team to figure out. They came out and started fast. They looked like they were going to have a very easy time with the Vikings. But Atlanta let Minnesota back in the game in the third quarter and that made things more interesting than they should have been. That’s kind of been the story of Atlanta’s entire season. The Falcons have been maddeningly inconsistent and nothing has come easy for them. But the bottom line is the Falcons are 7-4. They’ve pulled even with the Saints, who play Monday night, and they’re very much a factor in the NFC South race.
Roddy’s on a roll: After starting the season very slowly, receiver Roddy White has come on strong in the past two games. White had his second straight 100-yard receiving game and caught a touchdown pass. Fellow receiver Julio Jones also returned from a hamstring injury. Jones didn’t show up big on the stat sheet, but his presence helped White, Harry Douglas and Tony Gonzalez have big games. That’s a big part of the reason the Falcons traded up in the draft to get Jones.
What I didn’t like: I don’t think it was by design, but middle linebacker Curtis Lofton wound up in deep coverage on Percy Harvin on a fourth-down play in the fourth quarter. Lofton is a solid linebacker, but he shouldn’t ever be put in a situation where he has to cover a speed receiver downfield.
Defense rising: I’ve said several times throughout the season that the NFC South race will come down to defense. I realize the Vikings were playing without Adrian Peterson and were starting rookie quarterback Christian Ponder. But the Atlanta defense shut the Vikings down. Minnesota had only two first downs in the first half. It took some time for things together, but Atlanta’s defense has played well in recent weeks and seems to be improving. If that continues, it could help the Falcons tremendously down the stretch.
What’s next: The Falcons travel to Houston to play the Texans next Sunday at Reliant Stadium.