JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Falcons desperately needed a win after consecutive lopsided losses.
They got one Sunday in Jacksonville.
It didn't come as easy as expected after the Falcons built a three-score lead in the second half, but the 'W' came just the same.
The Falcons always seem to have a level of drama in their victories and this one was no different, with it coming down to a defensive stand the very end.
They ended up securing a 21-14 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Stadium, raising the team's record to 5-6.
Here are three gut reactions to Sunday's game:
Falcons sure missed CP
Cordarrelle Patterson didn't play much against Dallas. The do-everything offensive playmaker didn't play at all against New England.
Was it a coincidence that the offense stalled out in those games?
I think not.
Patterson was active again on Sunday and provided the offensive spark missing in recent losses. He ran the ball as well as he has all season. He was productive as a receiver. And, as he has shown all season long, Patterson has a nose for the end zone.
He scored the Falcons first two touchdowns to help build a lead that proved insurmountable.
Patterson is clearly the Falcons most valuable player, a point now indisputable after this showing in Jacksonville.
Run game wakes up
The Falcons have struggled to run the ball this season. Rare are the outings where the ground game poses a serious threat, but Sunday's game counts as one.
It was their best rushing performance of the season, with the team taking yards in chunks during the first half. Cordarrelle Patterson did most of the damage, with two rushing touchdowns early on, but Wayne Gallman got in on the action as well.
The most important development regarding the run game: Ball carriers had room to run. The offensive line did a solid job creating rushing lanes inside the tackles and out, allowing rushers to reach the second level.
And while it's easy to say part of that's due to poor opposition – we'll get to that later – the Jaguars entered Sunday's action ranked No. 3 in the NFL with 3.9 yards per carry allowed.
We won't know if this performance counts as an aberration or continuing trend, but it was a positive development nonetheless to see the run game kick start the offense as it did in the first half.
It wasn't as potent in the second, but the Falcons did enough to secure a much-needed victory.
Defense continues trending up
The Falcons defense struggled mightily a few weeks back against the Dallas Cowboys, doing things Grady Jarrett said the players and coaches didn't like. They have rebounded extremely well, with back-to-back standout performances.
They were solid against the New England Patriots, in a loss that fell squarely on the offensive side. They were stout again on Sunday, making life difficult on the Jaguars in this win. While New England can put up a lot of points, the Jaguars don't fall in that camp. Jacksonville's offense doesn't do much of anything well, but the Falcons defense played a role in their latest tough game.
Dante Fowler was impactful rushing the passer, Grady Jarrett was his regular dominant self and the secondary contributed to Trevor Lawrence's relatively poor performance.
And, for a second straight game, the Falcons made it hard to cross the goal line. They allowed one score to the Patriots – New England kicked lots of field goals – and kept Jacksonville from crossing the goal line for nearly three quarters. That was the only time, which was essential to the Falcons winning a game that got close at the end.
And they did all that with Deion Jones inactive with a shoulder injury.
They'll need stingy defense if they're to make a real playoff push, which will require victories over upper-level competition remaining on the schedule.
Call for questions
Let's get Monday's mailbag going right now, with Sunday's result fresh in your minds. Submit your questions right here for inclusion in the next edition of Bair Mail.
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Welcome to Falcons Final Whistle – an Atlanta Falcons football postgame podcast during the season that shifts gears in the offseason to answer a pressing question about the team's future each week through free agency, the NFL Draft and the offseason program.