Jacquizz Rodgers played a big role in improving the Falcons' rushing attack on Sunday. (US Presswire)

Sunday’s game against the Eagles settled it.

Before the bye week, there was an argument the Falcons, then 6-0 with three straight comeback wins, weren’t the league’s best team. But Sunday’s 30-17 win over Philadelphia satiated each glaring criticism of the league's lone undefeated team.

They won on the road in bad weather. They limited a potent rushing attack. They displayed a versatile rushing attack of their own. The play calling was significantly better and Matt Ryan proved he can throw an effective deep ball.

What more do you want? 

Atlanta’s most pressing issue -- tackling -- was much more consistent and it rarely let ball carriers LeSean McCoy or Michael Vick into the secondary. In fact, the longest rush the Falcons allowed was a 13-yard scramble to Vick. In the previous six games, the Falcons had let up at least one rush of at least 29 yards every game.

Atlanta came into the game allowing an average of 143 rushing yards per game, the 28th worst mark in the NFL. On Sunday, the Eagles had just 92 total yards on the ground -- the first time the Falcons had held a team under 100 yards.

The defensive line, sparked by John Abraham and Kroy Biermann, was relentless. Abraham is playing at a Pro-Bowl caliber level and now has seven sacks on the year, including four in his last two games. He also has three forced fumbles, tied for the second-most in the NFL. Biermann had seven tackles including one sack and flushed Vick out of his comfort zone numerous times. The two helped limit McCoy to just 45 yards.

The other issue plaguing coach Mike Smith’s team was an over-reliance on Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ deep receiving pool. By no means should the Falcons be a balanced offense with the likes of Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez available to stretch defenses paper-thin. But a ground game to keep opposing defenses honest is vital, especially in less-than-ideal weather away from the Georgia Dome. 

Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter got the entire plethora of running backs involved in Sunday’s game plan, whether by rushing them or using them as receivers out of the backfield. Veteran Michael Turner isn’t able to bruise his way for extra yards like in previous years, but he still managed 58 tough yards. Backup Jacquizz Rodgers had 60 yards rushing (most of which came on a 43-yard backbreaking, third-quarter rush) and five catches out of the backfield. He’s becoming a poor man’s Darren Sproles and yet another passing threat for Ryan.

But the best example of how the ground game opened up passing lanes was on Ryan’s second touchdown pass in the first quarter. The Eagles linebackers focused on Jones coming out of the backfield and bit on a fake handoff to FB Jason Snelling off the right side, one play after Turner had rushed for three yards. That left the middle of the field wide open for an easy three-yard dump pass from Ryan to Snelling to give Atlanta a 14-0 lead. The Falcons used the same play to Snelling -- again buoyed by the previous-play’s run -- to convert a third-and-three from the Eagles’ 13-yard line in the third quarter.

Koetter’s creativy was apparent both near the goal line and throughout long, sustained drives. He spoke all week of the increased pressure he expected the Eagles to bring, and in turn, responded with brilliant screen plays that funneled the direction of plays outside of the pocket.

Every facet showed improvement but the critics won’t cease until the Falcons' win in the postseason, where executing matters most.  

The potential narrative on the Falcons is that the Eagles are reeling, Michael Vick and Andy Reid’s jobs are both in turmoil, and Philadelphia’s newly installed defensive coordinator didn’t know what hit him. But that’s not it.

The Falcons are good. In fact, they’re the standard and by this point, people should start accepting it.

For more Falcons coverage, follow Mike Singer @CBSFalcons.