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Sunday, September 19, 2010
Wrap-up: Falcons 41, Cardinals 7

By Pat Yasinskas

Time to analyze Atlanta's 41-7 victory against Arizona.

What it means: The Falcons are quite alive and doing well, a week after a horrible season-opening loss to Pittsburgh.

What’s next: We’ll find out if the Falcons are closer to the dominant team they were against the Cardinals or the disaster they were against the Steelers next week. They travel to New Orleans and challenges don’t come any bigger than going against the defending Super Bowl champions.

Hindsight: A lot of Atlanta fans sent items to my mailbag last week saying I was too harsh on the Falcons for their loss in Pittsburgh. I understood the gripes, but this is the world of professional sports and the Falcons fell flat against the Steelers and there wasn’t any other way to spin it. Besides, I can assure you Mike Smith and his staff spent the week pointing out many of the same flaws I did. The Falcons truly rose up against the Cardinals and I’m singing their praises now. As I’ve said before, I can only work with what teams do on the field and the Falcons gave nothing but positives today.

Big revelation: At least for a day, the Falcons had a monster in running back Jason Snelling. After Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood were injured, Snelling ran for rushed for 129 yards and scored three touchdowns. Snelling did some good things last year when the Falcons had injuries in the backfield. In another positive development, Turner looked very sharp, averaging more than eight yards a carry before his injury and looked tremendously better than he did against Pittsburgh. The Falcons also said Turner’s injury was minor and he could have come back, but there was no need because the team had a big lead. Norwood’s injury could be more serious and his durability has always been a question. If there’s a lesson to be learned going forward, it’s that Atlanta’s running game might be at its best with Snelling getting a healthy dose of carries behind Turner.

Unsung Heroes: Safety William Moore and cornerback Christopher Owens, who each had interceptions. Moore was making his first career start in place of an injured Erik Coleman and could end up hanging onto the job. Owens is in his first full season as a starter.

What I liked: The way quarterback Matt Ryan bounced back after the Pittsburgh fiasco. He completed 21 of 32 passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Ryan is always going to be extremely scrutinized due to his draft status and remarkable rookie year. Against the Cardinals, there wasn’t much to scrutinize and Ryan had the Atlanta offense operating the way the coaches expect.