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Falcons finally having fun
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Forsyth County News
“We all had fun today.”

That’s how head coach Mike Smith assessed his Falcons’ 45-10 annihilation of the 49ers on Sunday. Pretty refreshing, huh?

“I talk to guys all the time about having fun,” Smith continued in his postgame press conference, as transcribed at “To me, having fun is playing football the way it’s supposed to be played. For the most part, I thought it was today.”

Those who only kicked back and watched had fun as well. For the first month of this football season, we kept wondering when we might see one of the local teams play a complete game.

Tech has had its offense rolling, for the most part. But that offense is coupled with a defense that cedes territory almost as fast as Tech captures it. Perhaps we’ll finally get a reading on where the Jackets stand when Virginia Tech visits this Saturday.

Likewise, we’ve wondered for six weeks what might transpire if Georgia’s three units all came to play at the same time. We still wonder. But now we know what happens when neither the defense nor the offense decide to play.

Sunday, the Falcons showed us that they are capable of being an outstanding, dominating football team. Certainly one capable of posting that eternally elusive back-to-back winning season.

In fact, that point was clearly made thanks to Sunday’s broadcast choices by CBS and Fox. The Network of the Eye decided to bless the metro area with coverage of the Giants-Raiders tilt. Good choice.

The Giants led 31-7 at halftime, prompting CBS to pull the plug. CBS could have switched seven seconds into the second quarter, with the Giants leading, 21-0. They also led in plays run (22-6), yardage (222-13) and time of possession (11:14-3:36).

Even though the Giants went off as 15-point favorites, you realized, “Wow! That’s what a great football team looks like.”

A few hours later, that’s exactly what the Falcons looked like.

The Falcons offense had the 49er defense retreating all day. They 49ers looked as if they had donned rollerblades. They were trying to hold water with a sieve.

As the Falcons moved inexorably toward their second touchdown, 49ers coach Mike Singletary took the extraordinary step of calling time out and huddling his troops for an impromptu sideline pep talk.

“We were sort of on our heels up to that time,” Singletary said at his own postgame press conference, as transcribed at “Didn’t change the rest of the day. But I thought, at that particular time, ‘Okay, guys, let’s settle down. We’ve had a chance to see what they’re trying to do. Let’s do a better job of preparing for that.’ Did not work.”

No, it didn’t. On the very next play, Roddy White galloped carefree-and defender free through the 49er secondary. He caught a 31-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan in full flight across the end zone.

But that wasn’t the back-breaker. That came midway through the second quarter, with the lead down to 14-10, the 49ers with the ball on the Falcons 33-yard-line following a turnover, and momentum taking up residence on the 49ers sideline.

And it was a team effort. The defense turned in a three-and-out, with a Kroy Biermann sack on third and seven. Ryan immediately hit White again with a short pass that became a 90-yard touchdown.

Biermann then recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, and three plays later it was 28-0. After forcing another three-and-out, the Falcons set sail on another touchdown drive.

That made it 35 points. At halftime. Never had we seen such an outburst from the Falcons. Ever.

All this against a 49er team ranked among the NFL leaders in all defensive categories, a team that had surrendered only 50 points en route to a 3-1 record. The Falcons made a laugher out of a game rated a toss-up.

“I think it was all three phases that contributed to our success today,” Smith noted in his postgame remarks. “When you play team football, that is what we preach, and they were able to do that.”

Of course, Smith did have the advantage of a bye week, coming off a less than stellar performance against the Patriots. Clearly he had no trouble getting his team’s attention.

Now, the Falcons face a Bears team coming off a bye week in prime time next Sunday night. Then the Cowboys, also coming off a bye week.
Double dates with the Saints, and games with the Giants, Eagles and Jets still await.

Daunting? Not after Sunday’s performance.

“Our focus was to win this game, regardless of how we did it or who we were playing against,” said Ryan in his postgame remarks. “That is kind of the focus every week. We worked hard this offseason; we feel like we have talent on both sides of the ball … we certainly have high expectations in ourselves.”

So, now, do the rest of us.