ATLANTA -- Crazy. Chaotic. Wild and wacky. Those are the words used to describe the final moments of the Falcons 37-34 overtime win against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
"I've never experienced anything like that in my life," Jake Matthews said.
"I think I got a little grayer today," Arthur Smith added.
In quick review, here's a snapshot of what happened: A 47-yard touchdown pass to Damiere Byrd. A 34-yard field goal. A 34-28 Falcons lead with 36 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Then, a 62-yard touchdown pass from P.J. Walker to D.J. Moore. An unsportsmanlike penalty on Moore. A missed extra point that was a near-50-yarder after said penalty.
Overtime. Tied at 34-all.
A Marcus Mariota interception to start overtime. A missed 32-yard, would-have-been-game-winning-field-goal for Carolina.
A long drive for the Falcons capped off by a 41-yard, actually-game-winning field goal by Younghoe Koo.
"Exhausted," Matthews said.
In the words of everyone's favorite SNL character, Stefon: This place has everything...
This game did, too.
Let's be honest, though: It wasn't pretty, and players would tell you that in the aftermath. But according to those same men, it's not the end of the world that it wasn't.
"Art talks all the time, too: It doesn't matter what it looks like. The goal is to win. No matter what it takes. However we gotta score, whether it's defense, offense, special teams, we all gotta work together to find ways to win," Matthews said. "Sometimes it's not always the prettiest, but this was a great team win."
"I think we learned a lot about ourselves, and we built a lot of confidence from it."
So, what did they learn, you may ask?
"We have what it takes, no matter the circumstance," Matthews answered. "There are a lot of scenarios where a lot of teams would count themselves out, but we just kept fighting."
Matthews continued by saying he finds this 2022 team "inspiring." How this team "plays harder for the guy next to you"? It shows that the Falcons - in Matthews' words - "don't have any quitters on this team."
There's a compartmentalization that has to happen, though, now that the dust has settled on this win... one that perhaps the football gods owed Atlanta?
"It broke our way," Smith said postgame, "and sometimes you need that to happen."
It's nice to have the win, yes, but the Falcons do know that they have to play better, from top to bottom.
No one is excusing the slow start by the offense. No one is excusing too many third-and-long explosives given up by the defense.
No one is overlooking the fact that Carolina gave the Falcons every single chance, every single opportunity to win that game. Whether it be penalties down the stretch, a missed extra point or a missed field goal, Carolina had its chances to put this game away at multiple points.
All of this is true, and it will be brought up. All of it: The mistakes and the miscues that kept Carolina hanging around until the very end.
"It is always easier to go into a Monday and look back at corrections when you've won the game than it is when you lost," Mariota said.
That's true, too. It all can be true.
On Sunday, the Falcons didn't play the prettiest game, but neither did the Panthers. Truth be told, it was a game that may have had more teachable moments than most.
But it was also a game that, at the end of the day, counts as one win. There are many corrections to be made, sure, but like Mariota said, it'll feel better doing so back with the record back at .500.
And when you break down this team? Even at the bitter end, the were in it together. For better or worse.
"Offense helped the defense. Defense helped the offense. And special teams helped everybody. That's what we do," Lorenzo Carter said. "We know we have to work for each other, and we work hard for each other. We fight for each other."
Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers during Week 8.