For the second time in three years, the Atlanta Falcons have secured home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
Saturday night against the Detroit Lions, the Falcons simply did what they needed in order to gain their thirteenth victory of the season.
While the game wasn't perfect overall, Atlanta met a tough challenge in a tough environment and came out with a big win.
In the end, the Falcons took care of business, so to speak, and set themselves up to control their fate in every way possible in the NFL playoff format.
Let's take a look at the winners and losers for Atlanta versus the Detroit Lions.
With his sixth straight season of 81 or more receptions, 1150 or more receiving yards and six or more touchdowns, Roddy White joined an exclusive group consisting of Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Torry Holt, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne.
For the game, he had eight receptions for 153 yards and two touchdowns.
White once again came up big when the Falcons needed him most.
Coming off a week of not practicing due to a knee injury, White went out against the Lions and performed as though he felt it was his responsibility alone to ensure a Falcons victory. He was virtually unstoppable when the Falcons were running their normal offense.
While White doesn’t dominate every game for Atlanta, he certainly dominates most games and continues to prove he is an elite receiver.
It's tough, perhaps a little unfair, to highlight the struggles of a rookie offensive lineman when he’s faced with the challenge of matching up against arguably the NFL’s best defensive tackle.
While Suh’s final numbers are not staggering, his overall impact on the game, and domination of Konz, were certainly noticeable.
Suh finished with only half a sack, but he wreaked havoc throughout the game. He was in the backfield numerous times, almost singlehandedly stopping the Falcon’s run game, including the late-game safety when he met Michael Turner at the handoff.
Perhaps the worst part of the night for Konz, however, was the commentary by ESPN color analyst John Gruden.
Gruden was not unjustly critical; he merely had a lot to work with in analyzing Konz’s struggles throughout the game.
Just when it appears that Matt Ryan has played his best, he comes out and performs beyond his previous set standard.
Perfect example: Ryan not only started the game 12-12 passing, but he also set a career best with 30 touchdowns.
In a season in which the Falcons have let the world know anything short of getting to the championship game is a failure, they have put the offense in Matt Ryan’s hands almost exclusively, and he has had his best season in every measurable way.
At the end of the day, you cannot place the blame on any one person or any one position group. The Falcons simply cannot consistently line up and run the football.
The offensive line simply isn’t built to do so, and the running back position does not provide a feature back.
For the game, Matt Ryan was the team’s second leading rusher with 25 yards on two scrambles on passing plays.
Michael Turner did have a respectable 3.2 yard average per rush, but he only managed 41 total yards.
Jacquizz Rodgers, who had been showing some feature-back knack recently, only had six carries after it was clear he wasn’t the answer in the run game against Detroit.
It’s clear that head coach Mike Smith and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter are content with what the Falcons are on offense: pass as much as possible and run it just enough to keep teams honest.
Jones has established himself as one of the NFL’s best freak athletes.
It isn’t the numbers that do him justice, though he can put some big ones up.
Jones is all about the play itself, and he provided a sensational look at that fact once again at the expense of the Lions.
Nonetheless, the Falcons offered little to no resistance against Johnson as he went on to set the NFL’s single season receiving yards record in the game.
While sports can at times force “tip your cap” moments, sports also provides the opportunity to rise up and meet the challenge.
The Falcons secondary did a poor job of meeting the challenge they faced in Johnson, and as a result, they gave 225 yards to a single player, enough for that player to set an NFL record.