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What we learned from Falcons' gritty win over Jets with division play about to begin

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The Falcons snapped a three-game losing skid when they defeated the New York Jets 25-20 on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Atlanta now begins division play with a road matchup against the Carolina Panthers (5-3) up next.

So, what did we learn from the Falcons following their Week 8 performance?

1. Explosive plays remain key for scoring opportunities

The Falcons had 10 explosive plays (passes of 16 yards or more and runs of 12 yards or more) on offense. Of those 10 explosive plays, eight were pass plays and two were run plays. These plays were key in giving the Falcons more scoring opportunities.

Connecting on the deep ball was also an area the Falcons were still looking to improve and they capitalized on their chances. Matt Ryan hit Julio Jones deep over the middle for a 53-yard reception.

"Yeah, that was good to see," head coach Dan Quinn said of the importance of getting explosive plays offensively. "We definitely do because those are ones when you get big shots down the field or big runs down the field, there's kind of a general shift in momentum at times where can you tack another play onto that to extend it to put yourself into scoring range. I would say of all the ones that we had explosive, I would say almost all of those we would've scored on. It's a huge part of our scoring offense when you get a big one to move that part of the field."

2. Falcons' defense shows consistency in run game

Atlanta's defense had their best performance against the run, giving up only 43 yards. This type of performance is what Quinn is looking for moving forward and hopes this will be a game his defense will build upon.

"That part of the game, it really felt familiar in terms of everybody just really (playing) assignment-sound, doing their job not trying to step out of their gap to go make a play," Quinn said. "I thought the consistency of the run defense was what really jumped out. I thought they took a big step towards becoming the unit, especially in the run game, that they can be."

3. Steve Sarkisian, offense shows commitment to the run

The Falcons ran 32 run plays against the Jets. Atlanta's offense is predicated on the run game and what it opens up for their passing attack.

Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and the offense's patience in this area paid off late especially when Tevin Coleman found a hole and broke loose for a 52-yard run. Devonta Freeman and Coleman ran for 123 of the Falcons' 140 yards on the ground.

"It was one [area] that we really wanted to really be mindful for and make sure that part of our game opens up so much of the other parts with the shots down field," Quinn said. "So even though some of the runs only go for one or two (yards), that allows a linebacker or a safety to have to suck up to where you may have a chance to throw a big ball to Julio (Jones). Those two things working in concert, and we knew that part of our game would come and it certainly did today. Although the runs, some of them are two and three yards, they're still a factor."

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