Down 21-14 with two minutes and 13 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the Jaguars and No.1 pick Trevor Lawrence had the ball starting at their 18-yard line, with an opportunity to drive down the field and win or tie the game. Before the Jaguars took the field, the Falcons offense failed to convert on third down, yet coach Arthur Smith said post-game that there was "no panic."
The Falcons quickly forced a third down, but Lawrence found Marvin Jones for eight yards to move the ball to the 29-yard line. That was the last pass Lawrence would complete on the day and last yards the Jaguars gained.
The Falcons defense forced four straight incomplete passes to bring out the Falcons offense for two kneel-downs to end the game.
"It felt good for us to go out there and close out the game like that," defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. said post-game. "I think we were playing pretty good throughout the whole game, and it was a clutch moment and time for us to stand up, and we did that."
After allowing 43 points two weeks ago in the loss to the Cowboys, including a 29-point second quarter, the Falcons defense has looked like a different unit. While they lost 25-0 to the New England Patriots a week ago, Atlanta's defense allowed just 19 points, one touchdown, secured an interception and three sacks (the other six points came from a pick-six late in the game).
In Sunday's win over the Jaguars the defense was just as dominant.
The Falcons brought pressure that forced Lawrence into errant throws, one resulting in an interception for Duron Harmon. On the defensive line, Grady Jarrett was consistently disruptive and in the backfield, Dante Fowler Jr. secured a sack on his former team, and Anthony Rush forced Jaguars' running back James Robinson's first lost fumble of his career.
Fowler believes that the change in the defensive has come because they are playing as one.
"I think we're just playing together as a unit and just doing our jobs," Fowler said. "Everybody doing they jobs, not doing something special, just doing what you're supposed to do and doing it 100 percent."
The win moves the Falcons to second in the NFC South behind the Buccaneers and closer to their hopes of a playoff appearance this season. And with six games remaining, the Falcons defense is playing its best at the perfect time.
"I certainly think our best football is in front of us, and we're gonna get there," Matt Ryan said post-game. "But six games to go, right in the mix in December starting next week — sign me up. I'm ready for that, and I'm excited for it. It's gonna be a fun couple of weeks."