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Tabeek: Raheem Morris is turning this team around and defense leading the charge

A theme has been developing over the last six games, especially when you look at those four wins


The Falcons have won four of six games since Raheem Morris took over on Oct. 12.

And, coincidentally, a theme has been developing over the last six games, especially in those four wins. Here's a quick refresher.

First there was the 40-23 win over the Vikings in Week 6 and after that one I wrote (and wondered), these are the Falcons we expected; will it last? When the defense showed up again during a 25-17 win over the Panthers in Week 8, more good things happened. Then in Week 9, the Falcons defense answered the bell in crunch time against the Broncos, preserving a 34-27 win.

And here we are again. On Sunday, Atlanta's defense forced five turnovers, including a 67-yard pick-six by Deion Jones, as the Falcons completely dismantled the Raiders 43-6. Twenty-three of Atlanta's points came courtesy of the turnovers.

How one-side was this one? Well, with 10:48 left to go in the fourth quarter, the Raiders yanked Derek Carr in favor of backup Nathan Peterman. On the Falcons' very next series, they trotted Matt Schaub out with 9:24 remaining in the game.

The sight of Peterman vs. Schaub for most of the fourth quarter was apparently too much for legendary sportscaster Brent Musburger, who is now the lead broadcaster and radio play-by-play voice for the Raiders. "Bring on the New York Jets!" joked Musburger, who clearly had seen enough.

Even with backups behind center for both teams, the Falcons didn't let off the gas pedal. After sacking Carr three times, Atlanta's defense lassoed Peterman twice to make it a season-high five from six different players. John Cominsky, Steven Means, Foyesade Oluokun and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner each notched takedowns while Tyeler Davison and Jaylinn Hawkins each had half sacks.

Means, who led the team with six combined tackles, may have played his best game in a Falcons uniform. And Jones now has five career interceptions returned for touchdowns.

This is a unit, mind you, that surrendered 161 points in its first games – an average of 32.2 points per game – as it fell into that 0-5 hole. In the six games since, the Falcons have given up 120 points total, or 20.0 points per game under defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich.

More important than that impressive turnaround, Morris has the Falcons playing winning football.

Atlanta is 4-2 and, if we're being honest here, should be 5-1 if Todd Gurley doesn't inadvertently roll into the end zone in a 23-22 loss to the Lions.

But, as the great Bill Parcells would often say, you are what your record says you are. And there is no denying the Falcons have been a much better team since Morris has taken over.

No one is talking about playoffs around here, but the four wins over the last 48 days has certainly changed how we're starting to view these 2020 Falcons.

As the Falcons play out their final five regular-season games under Morris, something else appears to be a given: This team refuses to roll over and throw in the towel.

And that's a good thing, especially for Morris, who would like nothing more than to remove the "interim" before his title.

Will the Falcons ultimately do that? Time will tell, but right now he's making one heck of a case.

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