It's a short week once again and there's no rest for the weary, not even the five big guys on the Falcons' offensive line that had as much to do with Sunday's 34-0 shelling of the New York Giants as any other position. Against a front four that head coach Mike Smith said in the days leading up to the game is the best in the NFL, they allowed one sack and three QB hits of Matt Ryan.
Ryan had the time to do what he needed to do and the Falcons' offense rolled in the win. They posted 34 points, but perhaps even bigger was the nearly 40 minutes they were on the field against New York's defense. All that time meant the Falcons were converting downs, getting protection for Ryan and moving the ball.
While they may have enjoyed winning big, the five linemen charged with protecting Ryan can't rest on their laurels this week. A trip to Detroit always means another fierce front four and in the Lions' case, a front four with a reputation. It won't be easy, but last week showed that Atlanta can pass protect with the best of them.
"Our offensive line did a great job last week against a really good front four," Ryan said on Tuesday. "We're going against another really good front four this week. They pressure the passer really well and they do a great job against the run also. Two weeks in a row we're going to have our work cut out for us and we need to prepare well this week and execute on Saturday."
The Giants' 32 sacks this season ranks 16th in the league and Detroit is one behind them with 31. Although they've had some stretches where they haven't done as well as they would've liked, the Falcons offensive line has played well collectively all season. They're ranked seventh in the NFL in sacks allowed with 25. If anything was learned from last week by the O-line, it's that when they dominate, the Falcons can dominate.
"We've just got to go out and execute, just like this past week," center Todd McClure said. "Their front four was the strength of their defense and it's the same way with Detroit, their front four is a strength. We've got to go out and manage that. If we do, we'll have success."