Since the 8:31mark of the third quarter of Super Bowl LI the New England Patriots outscored the Atlanta Falcons 54-0 until 4:09 in their rematch Sunday night when Atlanta finally scored again. That’s a total of 57 minutes and 10 seconds between scores. With aid of the fog and a lackluster effort the Falcons dropped their third straight game and third in a row against the AFC East. “Well I thought we had some opportunities early. Obviously you get the kick blocked and had some drives going. Obviously we want to score every time we touch the ball. That’s kind of the mindset that we have and like you said, the last couple of game we certainly haven’t performed at the level that I think we’re capable of,” said Matt Ryan.
The Atlanta offense facing their toughest defensive foe to date continued to look like a dumpster fire as they barely gained 100 yards before half. Add to that the suddenly inaccurate Matt Bryant who missed two field goals – one of which was blocked and it was nothing short of a disaster. The last time the Falcons played this bad in primetime dates back to 2003 one which team owner Arthur Blank issued an apology letter to the Commissioner. After Sunday’s game another letter might be in order.
Hyped as a “super” match up did not live up to expectations. While the Falcons put up decent numbers on offense running for 120 yards at a 5.5 yard per carry clip, Julio Jones hauled in passes for 99 yards and Ryan completed 70 percent of his passes for 233 yards, most of the yards gained were after the game was already decided – which was early in the third quarter. Unlike the Super Bowl the Falcons were unable to capitalize and the Patriots defense did not fold like Atlanta’s did in February.
The game started with a lot of promise for the much-hyped Super Bowl rematch for the Falcons. They held Tom Brady and company in check the first quarter as the game remained scoreless until the 12:26 mark of the second quarter when he hooked up with Brandin Cooks from 11 yards out.
The high flying Falcons offense has been missing all season except at the christening of their new stadium in week two. They were unable to take advantage of Patriots defense that was underwhelming. Add to offensive troubles a fog that literally rolled in like something out of a Sherlock Holmes novel and it was nothing but continuous bad news for Ryan and company. Even a great detective like Sherlock Holmes could not find the missing Atlanta offense. Until their last possession before the half the Falcons had less than 100 yards of total offense.
Add to that special teams woes compounded by two Matt Bryant misses. His first attempt was blocked in the first quarter that set up the way the team played all night. There were a lot of missed opportunities included the inability to convert on third down and even fourth down that set up the Patriots’ first field goal just before the end of the half to extend the lead to 17-0.
The biggest mystery of the night and season is what happened to the high-powered offense of Atlanta that once struck fear into defenders. The answer is unfortunately Steve Sarkisian. Sure I wasn’t a fan of Kyle Shanihan despite the results of last season but what I’ve been witnessing is a bunch of poorly conceived plays that do not play into the strength of the Falcons offense. There has been too few attempts to stretch the field or “go long” for the uneducated and the pass routes being run seem to have the receivers running shot and quite frankly into each other making them easy to defend. Add to that almost every running play has been up the middle without any attempt to go around the corners. The Falcons need to realize both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are of slight build and not bulldozers like Michael Turner. The running game has had more success than the pass game but there have been fewer big plays that helped to make the passing game more effective.
A couple of big penalties on defense also added to the frustration especially a roughing the passer call that extended the series and allowed the Patriots to score. “Any time you have a chance to take points off the board with a turnover, that’s a big one. When they put it back on and it extends the drive, it’s definitely a part of the game that’s disappointing,” said Falcons coach Dan Quinn.
Ryan looked frustrated many times out there, something he hasn’t shown since Quinn’s first season as coach. “Obviously to me it was a game where we had some opportunities to make some plays and didn’t make them. So I think that’s where you become frustrated when you have those opportunities, especially playing against a good football team like New England,” he said. “We haven’t been as productive as I think we’re capable of being. From a players standpoint I feel like it comes down to missed opportunities.”
The Falcons drop their third consecutive game after starting the season 3-0. All losses have come at the hands of AFC East opponents with one more on the horizon next week as they stay on the road to face the Jets.
“We were just off and that is it. We just weren’t on the same page,” said Julio Jones.
– Dave Weinthal
Enigma's mobile Concert Calendar!