These were the excuses given after each week so far this season.
The Falcons dominated the Lions 34-21, but instead of crediting Atlanta offense, most critics argued that Detroit’s ineptitude on defense was the reason for this opening game victory by the home team.
Week Two – Atlanta at Tampa Bay (LOSS)
Matt Ryan struggled in his first game outside the friendly confines of the Georgia Dome, and Michael Turner was held to just 42 yards rushing. Columnists argued that this was the Falcons team everyone expected to see and the learning curve may be too steep for Ryan to contribute immediately to help turn around this franchise.
Week Three – Kansas City at Atlanta (WIN)
Although the home team was favored by 4.5, as opposed to the Lions being favored by four in the first week, this was pretty much the same story as Week One, as far as the experts were concerned. The Falcons took care of the Chiefs by a final score of 38-14, but there was nary a peep heard about how well the home team played. Most of the attention was paid to a failing Kansas City team.
Week Four–Atlanta at Carolina (LOSS)
Given their first opportunity to help validate the 2008 season, Atlanta faltered once again at Carolina and failed to score a touchdown. Nearly everyone stated the Falcons could beat the bad teams, but were ineffective against the better teams.
Week Five –Atlanta at Green Bay (WIN)
A rookie quarterback is not supposed to go on the road and win in the NFL—especially at Lambeau Field. When he should have been rattled, Ryan began going no-huddle in “Peyton-esque” manner, and the Falcons took down the 5.5-point favorite Packers, 27-24. Commentators and columnists alike began to wonder if Atlanta was more than just a team that could beat bad teams.
Week Six – Chicago at Atlanta (WIN)
The Falcons couldn’t have and shouldn’t have won this game; but they did. Bad teams find a way to lose games, but good teams find a way to win them. The Falcons tried to lose the game with a missed Jason Elam field goal and a Chris Houston blown coverage in the waning moments of the fourth quarter, but somehow, a Harry Douglas kick return, a Ryan to Jenkins connection, and a Jason Elam redemption field goal later, Atlanta had found a way to win.
There have been excuses made every step of the way this season, from “the Falcons got some lucky breaks” and “the teams that Atlanta is playing are injured” to “the team can’t win in the NFC South.”
Finally, the Falcons gained some credit this past weekend during their bye-week.
While Detroit and Kansas City displayed just how incompetent they are, the Falcons did what good teams should do when they beat these two teams.
The two Falcons’ losses have been to teams with a combined 10-4 record. Both Tampa bay and New Orleans showed their strength by winning handily in Week Seven.
So, how many more victories will it take for the Falcons to get some much-due respect in the media?
Right now, the Eagles are favored by 8.5 points at home. If the Falcons keep getting denied the deference that they have duly earned so far this season, they will keep fighting as the underdog until the team is given the respect that they have earned.
It seems as though the team is beginning to get some esteem from the masses, but a victory in Philadelphia this weekend would go a long way to making their statement loud and clear...and begin getting the respect the Falcons have coming their way.