Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones let his feet and his hands do all of his talking on Sunday.
After the game, he could have ripped Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson, but he took the high and classy road.
However, teammate Devin Hester confirmed that Jones’ disapproved of Peterson’s talking. “He told me every night he went to bed, he thought about it,” Hester said.
Jones finished with 10 catches (on 12 targets) for a career-high 189 yards and a touchdown in the Falcons’ 29-18 victory. Unofficially, eight of those for 165 yards came with Peterson in coverage, including the 32-yard score that staked the Falcons to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter.
Jones should have broken out into some 80s rap and said, “How you like me now?”
Let’s move on to the grades.
GAME BALL I: Julio Jones (see above).
GAME BALL: Steven Jackson. Offensively, running back Steven Jackson had 18 carries while playing 35 of 79 offensive snaps. He gain 101 yards rushing while playing 44 percent of the snaps on a highly productive day.
B-plus – Quarterback: Matt Ryan completed 30 of 41 passes for 361 yards, two touchdowns and one interception that was returned for a touchdown. He finished with a passer rating of 105.8. Ryan has led the Falcons to a 37-3 record when he posts a passer rating of 100-or-higher during his career, including a 3-1 record this season.
B – Running backs: The running backs rushed 30 times for 134 yards (4.5 yards per carry). Devonta Freeman had eight carries for 26 yards and Jacquizz Rodgers had four carries for seven yards. It was their highest output of the season and helped to balance out the offense.
B — Wide receivers/Tight ends: In addition to Jones, wide receiver Harry Douglass had nine catches (on 12 targets) for 116 yards. Five other receivers also caught passes including tight end Levine Toilolo, who caught four of six targets for 15 yards and a touchdown. At 6-foot-8, he could be used more in the red zone. Wide receiver Eric Weems caught two of two passes for 9 yards.
B-plus — Offensive Line: Falcons coach Mike Smith kept saying the offensive line was a block away from breaking several runs over the past few weeks. On the fourth play of the game, the line hit all of their blocks and Jackson busted into the secondary on his way to a 55-yard run. “I feel like it’s been coming,” Right tackle Ryan Schraeder said. “This is our fifth week together with the guys who are starting right now. I just feel like this game has been coming.” In addition to Schraeder, who took over after Lamar Holmes went down and he beat out Gabe Carimi, the line has undrafted rookie James Stone at center and rookie Jake Matthews at left tackle. Veteran guards Justin Blalock and Jon Asamoah anchor the unit. “We’re all eager to prove ourselves,” Schraeder said. “Everybody is playing as hard as they can. It was just a matter of time before things started to come together.
B — Defensive line: Defensive tackle Corey Peters was also flagged for an uncommon penalty for his position but he acknowledged that he was guilty as charged. Peters drew a holding call when he grabbed an offensive lineman in an attempt to prevent him from getting to the linebacker to block on a running play. “I definitely did it so I can’t complain too much” Peters said. “Just have to do a better job of moving the feet and keeping him in front of me instead of grabbing him.” He started the game for Paul Soliai, who missed the game because of a death in his family. Cliff Matthews, who was active with Soliai, had two quarterback hits. The unit helped to hold the Cardinals to 35 yards rushing on 11 carries, just a week after giving up more than 162 yards to the Browns.
B — Linebackers: Paul Worrilow (eight), Joplo Bartu (three) and Prince Shembo (three) were strong against the run.
B-plus — Defensive backs: Falcons safety William Moore played all 55 of the defensive snaps in his return to action. Moore finished with four tackles and one forced fumble. The Falcons used their dime defense on 44 percent of their snaps as Kemal Ishmael played 24 of the 55 snaps (44 percent) along with Moore and Dwight Lowery (100 percent) and a nickel back. Lowery and Josh Wilson had interceptions and Desmond Trufant recovered a fumble.
B-plus — Special teams: K Matt Bryant set a career-high, connecting on all five of his field goal attempts. Bryant hit from 20, 21, 23, 28, and 45 yards in Sunday’s win. Including extra points, he tallied 17 total points which is tied for the fourth highest point total by any kicker in a single game in franchise history. His five field goals were tied for the second most in a single game in club annals. Hester’s 68-yard punt return help to fuel the quick start.
B-minus — Coaches: The offense showed what it could do with a respectable rushing attack The run game just needs to be respectable. Not outstanding. The offense was able to move the ball with some regularity, but offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter needs to get Toilolo more involved in the redzone if they can’t power the ball into the endzone with the ground game. He’s 6-foot-8. Throw it high at least once on every red zone trip. Matt Bryant kicked three field goals in the 20s. Those must be touchdowns next week in Green Bay if they Falcons are even going to stay in the game with the Packers. The defense held the Cardinals to 329 yards, including just 35 rushing. That was a major improvement after giving up 475 against the Browns. Fiery special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong got an unsportsmanlike penalty, but it didn’t prove to be too costly. The offense went on to add a field goal. His outrage was legitimate and both Drew Butler and Devin Hester should have been called for facemasking penalties.
NEXT UP: The Falcons (5-7) play at the Green Bay Packers (9-3) at 8:30 p.m. Monday at historic Lambeau Field.
FALCONS FAN MAILBAG: We take your questions from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday.
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