For the first time this season the Atlanta Falcons have won a game in back-to-back weeks. Atlanta emerged with a 34-27 victory against the Denver Broncos, also solidifying its first win at home this season.
"The dirty birds are back," interim head coach Raheem Morris said. "You get a win at home, you feel the energy, you feel the juice, and you never apologize for anything that went wrong in a game. You just go out there, and you win football games."
This was one of those all-three-phases type of wins, with big contributions from the offense, defense and special teams. Most notably, the offense didn't skip a beat without Calvin Ridley on the field. Christian Blake, Olamide Zaccheaus and Brandon Powell each stepped up to help Matt Ryan have perhaps his best game of the season.
"It's a really good group," Ryan said. "I've been lucky throughout my career to play with some great players and this group is right up there with any of them."
Zaccheaus led the Falcons with 103 receiving yards and caught a 51-yard touchdown pass from Ryan in the first half. Powell also snagged a touchdown pass from Ryan, and Julio Jones helped put the game out of reach for Denver with a 21-yard touchdown catch after shaking a Broncos defender out of his cleats.
Ryan finished the game with 284 passing yards and three touchdown passes to just one interception. He was aided by Todd Gurley, who gained 53 yards on 19 carries and scored one touchdown. Hayden Hurst and Julio Jones chipped in with 62 and 54 yards, respectively. Atlanta gained 363 yards on offense and converted 46 percent of its third-down attempts.
It was the second-straight game in which the defense showed up for Atlanta. Without Takk McKinley and Dante Fowler, the Falcons generated pressure with blitzes and their reserves on the defensive line – oh, and Grady Jarrett. Jarrett's pressure on Drew Lock helped Ricardo Allen secure an interception in the fourth quarter that really put the game out of reach.
"Today, Rico Allen getting the big pick, Grady on the pressure," Morris said. "We shined the light on that early in the week. We knew we had a clear-cut advantage in there for him to take advantage of some opportunities to rush, and he absolutely did. Our backers just keep stepping up. I can't say enough about Foye, can't say enough about Debo and the things they're able to do out there."
Allen's interception was the only turnover for Atlanta, but the Falcons forced two fumbles and had consistent pressure on Lock. Despite allowing 405 yards to the Broncos, many of which came in the fourth quarter, Atlanta had one of their better defensive performances of the year.
While things still look fairly dire for the Falcons in 2020, they enter their bye week with a two-game win streak and have won three of the four games since Raheem Morris took over as interim head coach. The schedule after the bye week is extremely tough, but they may yet make things interesting.
Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos with top photos from Week 9 | Salute to Service game