Sunday afternoon, the Atlanta Falcons went to Dade County to take on a Miami Dolphins team currently mired in a quarterback controversy and trade rumors. As the ‘Phins attempted to circle the wagons, it would be the Dirty Birds that would leave with a 30-28 victory as kicker Younghoe Koo kicked a 36 yard field goal at the gun. Here are five things we’ve learned from today’s game.
1) Kyle Pitts dominated on that field
The first-round selection from Florida had seven catches on ten targets for 163 yards and one touchdown. Notably, Fields made a one-handed grab while Dolphins cornerback Eric Rowe with 36 seconds remaining in the second quarter. The play went for 39 yards. Pitts beat the much-ballyhooed cornerback Xavien Howard on a 28 yard completion. The play began the two-minute game winning drive for the Falcons. Overall, Pitts is realizing what it takes perform consistently in the NFL and it appears the game is beginning to slow down for him. Two great performances in back-to-back weeks should have Falcons fans feeling optimistic.
“Kyle is a hell of a player … He is a ball player. Tough guy. Girt. NFL is the best of the best. That is why he’s out there playing,” Dolphins safety Jevon Holland said.
2) Matt Ryan had a clean pocket
It bears repeating for some: Matt Ryan needs a clean pocket in order to be successful. On the afternoon, Ryan completed 25 out of 40 passes for 336 yards. He threw two touchdowns and one interception. Ryan had time and was able to find nine different receivers on the day. However, he lost a fumble inside his own territory which led to a go-ahead touchdown by the Dolphins.
3) Tua had a good game; all things considered
Tua Tagovailoa finished the game completing 32 of 40 passes for 291 yards, throwing four touchdowns and two interceptions. The interceptions weren’t necessarily his fault. All week long, Tagovailoa has been facing trade rumors involving him, the Houston Texans and Deshaun Watson. However, the fortitude shown by Tua is greatly appreciated. The Falcons defense did sack him once.
“There is just other things we’ve talked about that I want to keep quiet,” Tua said post game regarding his conversation with Dan Marino today. Tua said of the trade rumors, “I do hear it. I just don’t listen to it. That is that.”
4) Ridley needs to get active
Calvin Ridley had four catches for 26 yards on the day and one touchdown. As the fans wonder if Ridley can continue to the number one receiver, the fact remains Ridley faces the emphasis of defensive coverage packages. But, when you have Pitts playing up to his abilities and being a matchup nightmare for defenses, eventually, Ridley’s stats will migrate toward the mean.
5) Arthur Smith is growing as a head coach.
It was a matter of time before Falcons head coach Arthur Smith would find his groove as a head coach and play caller. On the game winning drive with 2:27 remaining, the Falcons went nine plays, 57 yards and was able to run down the clock and win the game. Meanwhile, his relationship with Ryan has improved each week.
“You have the right mindset and have courage,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said of Ryan. “He has it. He’s a special player. I personally think he’s been criminally underrated his if you look at his career.”
The Falcons will face the Carolina Panthers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium this upcoming Sunday. The Panthers are coming off a fourth-straight loss, this time losing 25-3 on the road against the New York Giants. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 PM.