First Quarter:Under the bright lights of Thursday night, the Falcons didn't waste any time starting up their show. On the opening possession, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan carved up Jacksonville's depleted secondary, throwing four passes and completing them all. The final pass was the touchdown, a connection with Julio Jones on a short slant that the rookie receiver turned into a 29-yard score. Atlanta's defense didn't let up the frenzied pace, beginning with a John Abraham sack on the first play from Jacksonville's offense. The Falcons forced a three-and-out and Atlanta's offense resumed control, driving eight plays before kicker Matt Bryant connected on a 33-yard field goal to give the Falcons a 10-0 edge. On that drive, wide receiver Roddy White caught his 80th pass of the season, putting him over 1,000 yards for the fifth straight season.
Second Quarter:Atlanta suffocated the Jaguars in the second stanza, holding the Jaguars to only one yard passing. Abraham grabbed his second sack of the game, allowing him to single-handedly negate all but one yard of Jags quarterback Blaine Gabbert's 21-yard passing total in the first half. In total on defense in the second quarter, Atlanta sacked Gabbert once, had one tackle for loss and forced one fumble. The forced fumble came on Atlanta's punt. Jacksonville's return man, Jarrett Dillard muffed the catch and Sean Weatherspoon recovered on Jacksonville's five-yard line. It took the Falcons one play and four seconds to find the endzone, Michael Turner's first touchdown of the night. Ryan connected with White for a six-yard touchdown with less than two minutes to go before the half to keep the Falcons scoring outburst going. But even with little time remaining, the Falcons weren't done. Abraham's second sack came with 58 seconds remaining and the hit forced a fumble, recovered by Curtis Lofton. The ensuing field goal gave the Falcons a 27-0 lead, the most points they've scored in a first half since they put up 35 in 2009.
Third Quarter:The Falcons didn't waste any time in the second half with the scoring, though this time it was the defense in on the act. On the third play of the second half, Abraham got his third sack of the game, forcing a fumble that Corey Peters recovered and rumbled 13 yards for a touchdown. Later White would get his second touchdown, a 29-yard reception to give the Falcons a 41-0 lead. The shutout would end when Matt Bosher's punt was blocked, recovered and returned by Jacksonville for the game's first score by the visiting team. The quarter would end with Ryan getting the remainder of the night off with backup Chris Redman stepping in.
Fourth Quarter:The fourth quarter was mostly garbage time for both teams, but Thomas DeCoud kept the highlights coming for the Falcons with an interception that he returned for 21 yards. With less than two minutes remaining, the Jags offense finally got on the board, scoring a touchdown on a 16-yard pass from Gabbert to Chastin West but it was much too little too late. Though the Falcons gave up 112 yards on the ground to Maurice Jones-Drew, the defense limited the Jaguars to 91 yards of net passing and a 21:29 time of possession.
Play of the Game:While Abraham's sack before the close of the first half all but closed the door on Gabbert's chances of having a positive night in Atlanta, the defensive end spent little time in the second half before he helped create the most exciting play of the night. His sack three plays into the half for a ten-yard loss on Jacksonville's 16-yard line forced a fumble that Peters picked up. The big defensive tackle maintained his balance and ran the rest of the way into the end zone for the game's fourth touchdown.
Player of the Game:Matt Ryan got to take off early on Thursday night and he earned it. When the quarterback took a seat for good late in the third quarter, he'd totaled 224 yards passing on a night that saw him complete 19 of 26 passes. His three touchdowns on the night gave him seven in two games. Ryan drove the Falcons' offensive engine with precision all night, connecting on many of his biggest passes. An honorable mention goes to John Abraham on defense for leading a unit that shut out Jacksonville for the majority of the night. The defensive end paced the Falcons with 3.5 sacks for a loss of 35.5 yards, two forced fumbles, one tackle for loss and three quarterback hits. He played a monster game for the Falcons on defense and finished extremely close behind Ryan's player of the game nod.
Turning Point:The first half provided more than a few moments that served to set the Falcons on the road to a convincing win, but when Abraham sacked Gabbert just before halftime, forcing his first of two fumbles on the night, it was clear the 24-0 point deficit would be challenging for the Jags to overcome. The forced fumble led to three more points, but the demoralizing sack and turnover deep in Jacksonville territory made it crystal clear the night would be a long one for Gabbert and the Jaguars.
Stat of the Game:5/50. The Falcons pass rush was accounted for and present in the big win, bringing down Jacksonville's rookie passer five times for a loss of 50 yards. Abraham led the charge with 3.5 sacks, but Kroy Biermann picked up another and Ray Edwards picked up the other half of Abraham's sack. Corey Peters had a sack in the first half that was negated for a penalty.
Tweet of the Game:The Falcons have talked about the elusive four-quarter game all season and finally against Jacksonville they put it together. Atlanta's 41-14 blowout of the Jags saw the offense explode and the defense hold the Jags scoreless for most of the game. It seemed things couldn't go wrong for the Falcons. Even on a point-after attempt that was blocked, the ball still split the upright for the one point. Falcons fan @fergoe said that pretty much summed things up: "Yeah, this is the Falcons night. The XP (extra point) was blocked and it still went through.
Quote of the Day:After what was the most convincing and complete win of the 2011 season for the Falcons, Abraham said Atlanta now has a culture of winning and they're not surprised by performances like Thursday night's: "Whether we win or lose, we know we're a team that can win and we've shown that. We've averaged 11 wins a year as long as Mike Smith's been here. We know we're a winning squad and we know have a team that can win at all costs."