The Falcons traveled north of the border to face the Bills in Toronto Sunday afternoon in a back-and-forth thriller that ended in overtime on a 36-yard game-winning Matt Bryant field goal. Let’s dive in to a few of the numbers behind the narrative in the Falcons’ 34-31 victory.
Minus-5 - Total yards for the Falcons on their first two offensive series. Matt Ryan was sacked twice as Atlanta ran six plays en route to two straight three-and-outs. By contrast, Buffalo scored touchdowns on their first two offensive possessions on scoring drives of 85 and 63 yards.
.706 - Falcons winning percentage in 4 pm games under Head Coach Mike Smith. With the win over Buffalo, Atlanta has won 12 of 17 games played in the 4 pm time slot over the past six seasons.
1 - Teams with a League-worst 2-10 record after week 13. Atlanta, Houston and Jacksonville entered week 13 with 2-9 records, but Jacksonville edged Cleveland, while Atlanta knocked off Buffalo in overtime. The Houston Texans kept it interesting at home against the Patriots but lost a franchise-record tenth straight game, 34-31, on a late New England rally.
2 - Fumbles forced by the Falcons in the Bills’ final two offensive series of the game. Buffalo appeared poised to stage a last second victory as Bills QB E.J. Manuel hit WR Stevie Johnson for a completion across the Falcons’ 35-yard line with 40 seconds left in regulation, but Robert McClain stripped Johnson of the football, and William Moore recovered at the Atlanta 28-yard line. In overtime, Buffalo won the toss and began the extra session’s first drive at their own 20, but two plays later William Moore stripped Bills’ tight end Scott Chandler at the Buffalo 45-yard line after a 22-yard completion. Robert Alford picked up the loose ball at the Atlanta 40, retreated five yards then lateraled to fellow rookie Desmond Trufant, who advanced the ball to the Bills’ 47-yard line. While the Falcons remain minus-11 overall in turnover margin this year, the two late fumble recoveries were crucial to their win over the Bills. The Falcons only turned the ball over once, a third-quarter Matt Ryan fumble recovered by Buffalo on the Atlanta 21-yard line, leading to a Buffalo touchdown one play later.
3 - Rushing touchdowns in the game for the Falcons, a season-high. Entering the game, the Falcons had only rushed for 5 touchdowns throughout the entire season.
6 - Sacks in the game for the Bills, the most surrendered by the Falcons offensive line in a game this season. Falcons QBs have now been sacked 30 times in 2013, with four games remaining. In 2012, the Falcons offensive line allowed 28 total sacks all season.
9 - Games since the Falcons have held an opponent to under 100 rushing yards. Atlanta’s defense began the season very stout against the run, limiting opposing offenses to 78 (at NO), 69 (vs. STL) and 90 yards (at MIA) in their first three games. Since then, the Falcons have given up an average of 154 yards on the ground per game. Against the Bills in Toronto Sunday, the Falcons surrendered 195 yards on the ground.
14 - Number of passes defensed by rookie CB Desmond Trufant this season, the most by a rookie in Falcons franchise history.
15 - Consecutive 60-plus catch seasons for tight end Tony Gonzalez, who caught 4 passes for 42 yards and hauled in his 108th career touchdown pass in the third quarter to give the Falcons a 24-17 lead.
51 - Yards above their season-average rushing yards per game the Falcons amassed against the Bills. Atlanta rushed for 151 yards and scored three rushing touchdowns in the game.
12 - Minutes remaining on the clock in the second quarter when Buffalo went over 100 yards rushing on the day. Bolstered by C.J. Spiller runs of 77 and 36 yards, Buffalo finished with 195 yards rushing on the day, their third highest total of the season.
60 - Passing yards surrendered by the Falcons defense in the first half. Atlanta’s defense finished the game allowing only 210 yards through the air, their third best performance of the season.
100 - Falcons winning percentage on international soil (including pre-season games). The Falcons have played games outside the United States on three occasions: in the 2000 American Bowl in Tokyo (defeated Dallas, 20-9), the 2005 American Bowl in Tokyo (defeated Indianapolis, 27-21) and Sunday’s regular-season victory over the Bills.