NFC South: 2012 Week 16 Rapid Reaction
December, 22, 2012
By Pat Yasinskas | ESPN.com
DETROIT -- Thoughts on the Atlanta Falcons' 31-18 victory against the Detroit Lions on Saturday night at Ford Field:
What it means: The Falcons improved to 13-2 and clinched the home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. I know what you’re thinking -- the Falcons went 13-3 and had the home-field advantage two seasons ago and they lost to the Green Bay Packers in the Georgia Dome. It’s a valid point. But would you prefer the Falcons didn’t have the home-field advantage?
Almost perfect: Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan flirted with the NFL record book in the first half. He completed his first 12 passes. Throw in the fact that Ryan completed his final 10 passes in a victory against the New York Giants and he completed 22 consecutive passes. His 13th attempt of the game fell incomplete, leaving him just shy of Donovan McNabb’s NFL record (24 straight completions).
What I liked: Ryan’s performance overall. At least in my book, he has put himself back in the conversation for the Most Valuable Player award.
What I didn’t like: The way the Falcons insist on continuing to try to establish Michael Turner and the running game. Look, it just isn’t working. Either make Jacquizz Rodgers the feature back or just scrap the run totally and put everything in Ryan’s hands. The Falcons had a 21-6 halftime lead, but they were stubborn about Turner and the running game early in the second half and that gave the Lions a chance to get back into the game.
Milestone time: Ryan now has 31 touchdown passes on the season. That ties him with Steve Bartkowski for the franchise record for touchdown passes in a season.
More milestone time: Detroit's Calvin Johnson broke Jerry Rice's record for receiving yards in a season. It came with the Falcons in command of the game. Strangely, though, the Falcons also were the defense that Drew Brees broke the record for passing yards in a season against last year.
What’s next: The Falcons wrap up their regular season next Sunday, hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Georgia Dome. Coach Mike Smith has to make a decision on if he's going to rest his starters.