If you're a Falcons' fan, you were probably feeling pretty depressed after their first half against Carolina on Sunday. All those feelings went away in the second half, as the Falcons ventured their way to a 31-23 victory.
Atlanta went into the halftime trailing the Panthers 23-7. It was arguably one of the worst halves played by the Falcons, ever. They couldn't slow down Cam Newton, the offense was lost and the game appeared to be a lost cause at one point.
Whatever Mike Smith did at halftime worked, as his team blew away the Panthers in the third and fourth quarter. They didn't give up on Sunday's matchup, and it was reassuring to see them make a comeback.
So I'll ask again, what did we learn from the Falcons this week?
You may have heard Falcons' games described as a tale of two halves this season. That phrase applies perfectly to Week 14's matchup as well.
The first half for the Falcons was so completely and utterly abysmal, and that's putting it nicely. They gave up a 74-yard touchdown to DeAngelo Williams, Cam Newton couldn't be stopped and their offense was nowhere to be found.
The second half, however, looked like the Falcons living up to their potential. Julio Jones broke out for two scores, the defense buckled down and the entire team played 100 percent better.
Listen to any expert talk about Atlanta and you'll hear them use the word consistency often. That's been the issue for the entire season. Luckily, the second half was their time to shine this week.
Matt Ryan rarely looked Julio Jones' way in the first half against the Panthers. Clearly someone pointed that fact out to the team at halftime.
The Falcons' came out in the third quarter with Ryan looking for Jones to make a play. He seemed discouraged at a couple missed opportunities, but when he caught a pass right near the goal line, he made sure he put six points on the board.
After his first touchdown, Jones scorched the Panthers' secondary for a 75-yard explosion, giving Atlanta a 31-23 lead. There is a reason this franchise gave up five draft picks for this young receiver. They need to continue implementing him into their game plan, and maybe next time try that strategy for all four quarters.
Cam Newton and the Carolina offense can be tough to stop, but the Falcons couldn't do anything against them in the first half. But, the defense didn't allow a single point in the second half, and paved the way for an Atlanta win.
Sean Weatherspoon was his usual impressive self, making plays left and right. Mike Peterson made the most of his second start for injured Stephen Nicholas by stepping in front of a shovel pass to Jonathan Stewart, giving Atlanta the ball at the Carolina 35. William Moore had a nice return to the field as well with an interception of his own.
This team settled down and forced an erratic performance by Newton late in the game. Give them credit, as they were also playing with several backups.
Matt Ryan was basically running for his life for half of this game. Sam Baker basically gave up a safety when he let Antwan Applewhite blow right by him at right guard. Overall, it wasn't a great performance for the offensive line.
Ryan was sacked three times on the day, and Michael Turner only averaged 3.6 yards per carry. The O-line has been the source of the majority of the offense's issues this season, so hopefully they figure something out soon. Otherwise, Atlanta might as well just start looking at who they can sign in the offseason.
Granted it was a perfect throw from Matt Ryan, Quizz can be a big contributor for this team. He started to see more playing time earlier this season, but Sunday was probably his biggest moment yet.
The Falcons do not throw many screen passes, something that has been pointed out by plenty of fans. Rodgers is the perfect fit for those kind of plays. It would be nice to see what else he's capable of. Maybe Quizz will get in the action more after scoring on Sunday.
-Matt Bosher is really coming along. Just about everyone called for a new punter early on in 2011 (yes, I was one of them), but the rookie looks better every week.
-Tony Gonzalez isn't slowing down. He finished with seven catches for 82 yards, and Ryan consistently goes to him in third down situations.
-Fox really wants us to know Jim Mora Jr. found a new job. Seriously, how many times did they mention the fact that he is UCLA's new coach? We get it already.