The Falcons did not play a complete game Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. Not even close.
Not that it matters. Not one bit. Why. They won.
Nobody was thrilled about playing well in losses the last two weeks. No one flying home from Seattle will care about imperfection in the season's first victory.
Those issues are for another day. This experience represents a breakthrough, one the Falcons needed after two tough, losses to start the season that could've gone the other way.
They won this one. And while the result is more important than the process here, there are some important characteristics evident while earning this victory.
Grady Jarrett laid them both out nicely in his press conference after a 27-23 victory over the Seahawks at Lumen Field.
Those are two things the Falcons couldn't do against the Saints and Rams, which were vital in this victory.
The Falcons and Seahawks were never separated by more than one seven points. They exchanged scores throughout the first half, staying close throughout the fourth quarter of a game ultimately decided by four.
The Falcons didn't have to score on every drive. They didn't have to play perfect football, but they had to find a way to edge the Seahawks out. They ultimately did that on defense, with two stops after Drake London's go-ahead touchdown with 35 seconds left in the third quarter.
"You had to have the right mentality, to stay down and keep working," Jarrett said. "We knew we had to make something happen. Everything wasn't going to go our way, but we had to be able to outlast. We had to keep going. I'm happy we were able to do that today and come out with a win."
They were only able outlast on Sunday by overcoming a major mistake. Marcus Mariota and Tyler Allgeier botched a handoff exchange – it looked like Allgeier tried to take the ball and Mariota planned on keeping it – gave Seattle possession with five minutes remaining. A sustained touchdown drive might've ended this game with a third Falcons loss, but the defense made the best of a bad situation.
Seattle moved all the way down to the Falcons' 30-yard line before trouble struck. A holding call set up a second-and-14 that didn't gain much ground. Then Jarrett came up with a huge sack for a 10-yard loss. Then Richie Grant intercepted Geno Smith's fourth-down heave to secure victory for the Falcons.
"This one is super gratifying," Jarrett said. "Those were super tough losses we took the first two games and, to be able to win one on the road, in a hectic environment, that's going to propel us in the right direction. It shows that we can overcome.
"When that dark cloud comes after something goes wrong, you don't think 'here we go again.' We overcome and find a way to get a stop."
So, after struggling to stop the Seahawks most of the day – the Falcons allowed scores on five of the first six possessions – the defense shut things down when it mattered most. It only mattered late because the offense kept scoring behind London, Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson.
But, after that big lost fumble, the defense had to stand tall.
"We had to go out there and respond," Jarrett said. "We had the offense's back when they made that mistake, because they put some points up for us when we were struggling. We came through at the end. Got a sack on third down and Richie Grant got a pick on fourth down. The defense came through and helped get a win today, but it remains a full team effort."
It will take full team efforts to stack wins. There's a chance to get two in a row next week against Jacoby Brissett's Cleveland Browns, if the Falcons are on point when it matters most. Odds of it being perfect, or truly complete against Nick Chubb, Myles Garrett are slim, but it's always possible to do enough to win and get a victory with the talent the Falcons have on hand.
The Falcons saw progress being made the first two games despite the results, but we thrilled to see that validated with a win on Sunday. Now it's about continuing that progress. And continuing to win.
"There were no moral victories [after the first two weeks], but you have to be objective and understand that there was progress being made," Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said. "It was good to get a win and break through. Now the challenge is, can we sustain that? Can we improve with a big game coming up at home?"
Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Seattle Seahawks during Week 3.