The downward spiral continues for the Atlanta Falcons as they were stunned (especially their fans) by the Indianapolis Colts Sunday at the Georgia Dome 24-21 on a late field goal by Adam Vinatieri.
Once again Atlanta’s favorite sons let a lead slip away and Matty Ice could not rally the troops for a miracle finish. As for the third time in four weeks Atlanta found themselves on the wrong of the score. Needless to say, coach Dan Quinn’s honeymoon has come to a crashing halt with the latest loss.
Ironically the Falcons led most of the day extending their lead to 21-7 after their first offensive possession of the third quarter. That fell apart as the Colts scored 17 unanswered points beginning with 14 seconds remaining in the third quarter and officially taking their first and only needed lead with 57 seconds remaining.
Truth be told this was one of the most sloppily played games ever at the Georgia Dome. Halfway into the first quarter there were three turnover with seven total for the day.
“When our defense comes up with three turnovers and we come up with zero points, we’re not doing our job. I thought our defense did a nice job of giving us some short field opportunities and in those situations, you have to come away with points. We didn’t do that today,” said Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan.
Ryan had an uncharacteristically sloppy day throwing three interceptions, his worst outing turnover-wise since throwing five interceptions against the Arizona Cardinals at the Dome in 2012. The only difference is the Falcons won that contest. Ryan’s third interception Sunday is the one that really did him and the team in.
With the ball on their own one, Ryan threw a pick-six that tied the score at 21-21 with 10:14 remaining. The Falcons were unable to amount any kind of drive until the final seconds of the game when poor clock management on the final three plays from scrimmage allowed the Colts to steal the victory from Atlanta despite the fact the Falcons out-gained them by 99 yards.
Things looked great for Atlanta at first as they intercepted Colt QB Matt Hasselbeck who was subbing for injured Andrew Luck on the second play from scrimmage. With the ball on the Indy 34 the Falcons only managed to move the ball five yards and what might have been an omen for the game Matt Bryant uncharacteristically missed another field goal, this one from 46 yards – usually a sure thing for him, but not this season as he’s missed attempts this year that used to be money in the bank for Atlanta.
On their second possession after moving the ball into Atlanta territory the Colts turned the ball over after running back Frank Gore fumbled after being tackled by O’Brien Schofield with Paul Worrilow recovering.
Devonta Freeman seemed to pick up where he left off before the 49ers game as he gained 39 yards on the next play for Atlanta. Freeman ended up leaving the game after this particular series, suffering a concussion. “It’s always tough when you lose anyone. Devonta [Freeman] has been such a big part of what we’ve done this year,” said Ryan.
Three plays later Ryan was intercepted in the end zone to end the scoring threat.
With 5:30 remaining in the first quarter Ryan led the Falcons down for their first score. With ten seconds remaining in the quarter he hit fullback Patrick DiMarco with a 15-yard scoring pass who bulldozed his way into the end zone.
With nine minutes remaining in the second quarter Ryan hit DiMarco again this time from a yard out to make the score 14-0. At this point the fullback had caught two passes, both for touchdowns. Not a bad way to capitalize of the few times he would get his hands on the ball. For the game he caught three passes.
The Colts finally mounted a drive towards the end of the half as with two minutes remaining Hasselbeck hit Ahmad Bradshaw from seven yards out to make the score 14-7 at the half.
Atlanta increased their lead back to 14 when Ryan hit Leonard Hankerson from five yards out at the 9:45 mark in the third. Then things started to implode for the Falcons.
Hasselbeck found Bradshaw again this time from two yards out to make the score 21-14 with 15 seconds remaining in the third.
The fourth quarter, which was pretty much a wash for both teams with the exception of D’Qwell Jackson’s interception and return for a score of Ryan’s pass and the Colt’s final drive that began on their 19 as they drove to the Falcon 27 where Vinatieri kicked what would be the game-winning field goal with 57 seconds remaining.
What started out as a dream season has come crashing back down to reality very quickly for Atlanta as they are losers of three straight by a combined total of seven points.
“I’m definitely disappointed in the finish just because I know the style of competitor that’s there, so for us to be at our best that has to happen. When it doesn’t, man that’s hard. It’s one that we want to take great pride in knowing that just as a competitor that’s what we stand for,” said Quinn. “When we didn’t do that today, that’s at the top of the list in terms of how we want to go attack. When we don’t, that makes it harder.”
We are just going to continue to grind. We will talk about it amongst each other in the locker room. Tomorrow, when we get done meeting, we will get it done,” said Falcons’ WR Roddy White.
The Falcons will try to fix this sinking ship as they remain home this weekend as they take on the Minnesota Vikings Sunday at the Georgia Dome. Kickoff is scheduled for 1pm and the game will be aired on Fox.
– Dave Weinthal
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