Atlanta Has Taken Big Strides Since Week 1
The Falcons opened up the regular season with a loss to Tampa Bay, but when the two teams clashed again on Thursday night, Atlanta proved it has evolved in many ways over the last several months.
"We're a lot different than I thought from Week 1 to Week 9, and we showed we've improved in a number of areas in all three areas," head coach Dan Quinn said. "Our team really has a very good understanding of our identity, our toughness, our resiliency. The balance we have on offense, the ball-hawking mentality with defense, the way we want to run and hit on special teams — for sure that's been a big factor."
Young DBs Exhibit Physicality
After Desmond Trufant exited with a hurt shoulder, Jalen Collins stepped up and played nearly 50 snaps on defense. The second-year corner made some impressive plays in coverage and displayed his physicality in the process. Rookie safety Keanu Neal showed his physical side, as well, and made the biggest hit of the night when he knocked Mike Evans out of bounds late in the third quarter.
"Yeah, that physicality showed up," Quinn said about Neal. "Those who were on the sideline close to it — it was a loud hit, too. And in terms of the strike zone and where we want to hit, it was a clean hit but a hard hit. The more and more we do that, that part of his game totally comes to life."
Falcons Had No Problem with Short Week
Thursday night battles can present a host of issues in the NFL, one of which is the lack of rest they allow between games. This wasn't a headache for the Falcons, however, as they looked sharp and well-prepared for the quick turnaround.
"I was really pleased with the players and their readiness for the game," Quinn said. "I thought we had a real edge about us. That came from the preparation they did during the week. So it was really evident. We looked fresh, we looked fast as we were going through it."