CHARLOTTE — The win over the Saints wasn’t a fluke.
The Falcons went up to Charlotte and took down the second-place team in the NFC South in convincing fashion, 29-6, on Sunday.
The Falcons now have a modest two-game winning streak after dropping six straight.
No one seems to have a clear explanation for how the Falcons have turned into world beaters like they were projected to be before the start of the season.
“We’ve always been this team,” wide receiver Julio Jones said. “At the end of the day, it’s us. We just had to figure it out for us.”
Here are the three things we learned from another stunning victory:
1. Rusty turnover chain: The Falcons turnover chain was collecting dust,
After getting four interceptions, three in the red zone, the Falcons can parade around the sideline or in the locker room with their turnover chain all they want.
The Falcons hadn’t had an interception since Desmond Trufant picked off two passes against the Eagles in Week 2 back on Sept. 22.
Against the Panthers, linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, Trufant, free safety Damontae Kazee and strong safety Ricardo Allen all had interceptions.
Trufant’s was in the end zone to stop a scoring threat. Allen’s was at the 3-yard line and Kazee’s was at the 4-yard line.
“It was definitely a drought,” coach Dan Quinn said of the seven games without an interception. “We were putting the work in on that and we knew they have a chance to come bunches. To see some of the guys take points off the board, that was a big deal today.”
In addition to the four pass interceptions, the Falcons had nine pass breakups. Allen had three and second-year cornerback Isaiah Oliver two pass breakups.
“Any time that you get the chance to intercept the ball down in the red zone those are points off the board,” Quinn said.
It was Trufant’s first game back after missing the past four with a turf toe injury.
“That felt great,” Trufant said of the interceptions. “Those were game-changing plays. It kills the momentum of the other team when we get turnovers. It gives our offense momentum as well. We have to keep going after the ball.”
Carolina quarterback Kyle Allen was attempting to pass to wide receiver D.J. Moore on Trufant’s interception.
“That was just a study play,” Trufant said. “The (route concept), I knew that route was coming. You know, that’s just from film study, from the coaches and myself. I was just able to make the play and he threw it to me.
“I had been out for a couple of games. I just wanted to come out and play aggressive, play fast, not second guess and not think about the toe. I’m glad I had a good showing today.”
The last time the Falcons had at least four interceptions in a regular season game was against New Orleans on Nov. 29, 2012. William Moore (two), Thomas DeCoud, Sean Weatherspoon and Jonathan Babineaux all had interceptions.
2. Did you say playoffs? After going 1-7, the Falcons have knocked off the top two teams in the NFC South. The Saints beat the Bucs Sunday to improve to 8-2. The Panthers are 5-5. The Falcons and the Bucs are 3-7.
The Falcons likely need to run the table to even have a chance at the postseason.
“It’s not over until it’s over,” Trufant said. “We still have a lot of ball left. If we do what we are supposed to do, we can be right where we want to be. I’m excited about how we are playing. We just have to keep stacking them every week.”
3. Ridley a weapon: Since the trade of wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, the role of wide receiver Calvin Ridley has expanded.
With running back Devonta Freeman (foot sprain) and tight end Austin Hooper (knee) out, the Falcons needed Ridley to turn in a big game.
Ridley caught 8 of 8 targets for 143 yards and one touchdown against the Panthers.
“It felt good,” Ridley said. “It’s something that I can always do. I’m a player and feel like I can make plays out there.”
Ridley knew he’d have some room to operate against the Panthers’ defense. He got open early and often.
On the opening drive, Ridley got open for a 34-yard gain.
“Oh yeah, the coverage was kind of titled (to Julio Jones),” Ridley said. “The safety played a little bit over so, I just ran the route and made the play. Matt threw a great ball.”
He also had long gainers of 26 and 36 yards.
“Calvin put up some big numbers for us today, created a bunch of explosive plays right from the start, long pass across the field,” Ryan said. “We leaned on those guys today with the absence of some other players.”
Jones finished with six catches for 91 yards.