Thursday night's game lived up to every single bit of hype that surrounded it. Two NFL powerhouses stepped on the same field, and one team had to come out the victor. In what some media outlets billed as a possible postseason matchup, the Atlanta Falcons came out on top in typical, nail-biting fashion with a 26-21 win Thursday night at the Georgia Dome.
A drive to remember
They've done it before. We've seen it all season. The Falcons will be up, get down and look as if all hope is lost. Then, as if defying impossible odds, they perform like they did when it counted Thursday night. Down by one with a minute left, Matt Ryan led another masterful drive to the endzone, finishing it off with a 33-yard touchdown pass to none other than Roddy White. Put this drive with the rest of the highlight drives the Falcons have strung together this year.
Serving of Rice
Ray Rice came as advertised Thursday — a constant offensive threat whenever he has the ball in his hands. Rice gashed and slashed his way through the Falcons' defense throughout the game, despite a hard-nosed defensive effort by Atlanta. Rice finished the game with 59 rushing yards and 43 receiving yards as his small frame and quickness made it nearly impossible to keep him under wraps for long. While he didn't earn a trip to the end zone, he still was the set-up man all night for the Ravens.
Capitalizing on opportunities
With two evenly matched teams, one slight edge here or there was going to make the difference. The Falcons made sure to put themselves in the best position possible by creating points out of turnovers. The Falcons were able to recover a fumble in the first half and then Brent Grimes intercepted a pass in the third quarter, each resulted in a Matt Bryant field goal. Those points, against this Ravens team, mattered.
Third time not the charm
The Ravens' defense struggled to get off the field throughout the game. Third downs would come for the Falcons and they would quickly be turned into firsts. By the second quarter, the Ravens' defense looked like it had already played a full game. For the game, the Falcons were 12-of-20 on third downs.
Time is on our side
The Falcons' time of possession this season has been near the top of the league. In fact, both teams came into Thursday's game No. 1 (Ravens) and No. 2 (Falcons) in time of possession, separated by only a mere five seconds. The Falcons held the advantage Thursday night. Through the first half, the Falcons' time of possession nearly doubled that of the Ravens. The final TOP ended with the Falcons controlling the ball for 35:09.