SEATTLE – For weeks now, Matt Ryan had said he thought the Falcons offense was "close" to reaching that level he knows they are capable of playing. And over the past two weeks, the unit has shown exactly that, especially in Monday night's 34-31 win in Seattle.
Between Atlanta's high conversion rate on third down – the Falcons converted on 9 of 14, good for 64 percent – their explosive plays at pivotal times and cashing in on trips to the red zone, the offense looked to be clicking on all cylinders.
The Falcons (6-4) put up 284 yards of total offense and scored 34 points in their win over the Seahawks. But the real story of the night was Atlanta's play on third down, according to head coach Dan Quinn.
Their 64 percent conversion rate was the best of the season and that's not by coincidence. Quinn has added more periods to the practice schedule solely focused on this aspect of their game, and it's paying off.
"You know how hard we've been working on that," Quinn said. "We've put in the practice earlier in the week so we get more turns at. Designed by [Steve Sarkisian], that was a big factor tonight. We ran it with Mo, we threw it to different guys. Tevin had some, Julio had some, Mohamed had some, Hardy had some. That's hard to defend when that many people get targets. That's a lot of people to guard."
Another area the Falcons had been emphasizing was the deep ball in hopes to create more explosive plays.
Between Ryan's completions to Julio Jones and Levine Toilolo, the connection was there.
"I thought it was huge tonight," Ryan said of connecting on the deep shots. "The third down situation that we had to hit Julio on a deep ball was clutch. We stretched the field vertically, forced them to back up a little bit to open some things underneath. It's huge, if we can get that part of our game rolling, it's another thing defenses have to account for and defend. We have the players to do it, the scheme to do it and we've started to hit on a couple [over] the past couple of weeks.
Ryan and Quinn know that with the weapons this offense has to utilize and the more explosive plays the unit can generate, it becomes another thing opponents have to prepare for.
"It's always really important to us because that's where some of the explosive plays come from," Quinn said of the importance of connecting on the deep shots. "We hit on some tonight and that's a part of our game that's coming to life like it should be because that's another thing that we do."