With a 17 to nothing halftime score, I was convinced that Atlanta was playing a perfect game. Then, however, the second half started and we witnessed a Minnesota team that is just plain awful give the dirty birds a run for their money. After Atlanta finally scored in the second half, it looked like they finally got back on track.
At least until Percy Harvin returned the ball 104 yards. The saving grace was that he was denied the end zone thanks to the outright hustle from defensive back Christopher Owens.
Owens tackle inside the five yard line kept the Vikings from scoring on that play, and then the defense stepped up and help the Vikes on four straight plays. They then held on to win the game 27 to 17.
It would have been easy for Owens to just drop his pursuit. Frankly, I thought he had about as much chance of catching Harvin as we have of Ray Charles returning from the dead and playing the national anthem at Westover High’s opening night football game next season. I was wrong, and darn glad to be.
Owens tackle was just one tackle in the game. It would be easy to miss exactly how important that tackle is. However, Minnesota was coming back. A touchdown there could easily have broken Atlanta’s will right then and there. Owens, however, refused to quit.
Last week, I gave the secondary a fair amount of guff, and I stand by that column. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that Owens is part of that secondary. His effort was nothing short of epic, and I salute him.
Another factor that would be easy to miss when it comes to Owens’ effort is what it means for the Falcons. Well, really, it doesn’t mean anything so much as it represents something. Every team wants a “never say die” attitude. Some players carried it with them. Dan Marino, Brett Favre, players like that. Matt Ryan, for all his talent, isn’t quite there yet. However, the team itself has that exact attitude, and Owens’ effort personified it for a short period of time this past Sunday.
Coach Mike Smith, who took a lot of flak two weeks ago for going for it on fourth down, took it all in stride. After all, last week he showed that same aggression last week on two different fourth and one situations. Smith, simply put, refuses to roll over. Owens has clearly picked up on that and refused to give up.
It may have just looked like a tackle, but it may have saved Atlanta’s playoff hopes. It may have just been a tackle, but it may also make the turning point in Atlanta’s season. Only time will tell, but with just a five games left this season, it won’t take much.