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Falcons ranking first in this statistic may surprise fans

After giving up 48 points against the Buccaneers in Week 2 and 43 to the Cowboys eight weeks later, it is safe to say nobody in the league is scared of this Falcons defense. Atlanta ranks second-to-last in opponent points per game, averaging 27.5 — only ahead of the Jets. On Sunday, Dean Pees’ unit was uncharacteristically opportunistic against the Jaguars, forcing two turnovers; they’re tied for 24th in the league with three other teams with 11 total takeaways. So what I say next may surprise you.

The Falcons defense actually leads the league in a statistic; Atlanta has allowed exactly zero 40+ plays this season through 12 weeks, which seems a bit unbelievable.

However, I have charted every single Falcons game’s longest rush and pass play, and… it is true.

  • Phi — longest rush: 23 yards; pass: 28 yards
  • TB — longest rush: 10 yards; pass: 26 yards
  • NYG — longest rush: 15 yards; pass: 38 yards
  • WFT — longest rush: 20 yards; pass: 33 yards
  • NYJ — longest rush: 9 yards; pass: 27 yards
  • Mia — longest rush: 16 yards; pass: 27 yards
  • Car — longest rush: 20 yards; pass: 23 yards
  • NO — longest rush: 14 yards; pass: 25 yards
  • Dal — longest rush: 15 yards; pass: 37 yards
  • NE — longest rush: 21 yards; pass: 19 yards
  • Jax — longest rush: 12 yards; pass: 26 yards

There were a couple of close calls against the Giants and Cowboys. Ceedee Lamb and C.J. Board almost ruined the Falcons’ perfect season of no 40+ yard plays. I honestly can’t believe it. Atlanta has their secondary to thank for that, I suppose. Jaylinn Hawkins, Erik Harris, and Duron Harmon have been the team’s last line of defense for most of the season, so we tip our caps.

However, this got me wondering just how proficient the Falcons defense is at limiting explosive plays. According to SharpFootballStats, Atlanta has allowed only 31 explosive rushes, tied for the sixth-lowest average rate in the league. They’re not as stingy defending explosive pass plays but still rank around the league average in average explosive pass rate (9%), giving up 34 total.

Naturally, the Falcons will give up a 40+ yard play this Sunday against the Buccaneers, but for now, relish in it, Falcons fans. You’re #1 in something.



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