By: Gabriele Watts
We all thought that the bye week was what the Falcons needed. A chance to rest, recuperate, recharge, and refocus on getting to the playoffs. For a while in the game, that seemed to be just what the Falcons did. The whole team looked reenergized and determined to prove their doubters wrong, as they took an early 14-0 lead.
Unfortunately, as the game wore on, the Falcons’ past problems reared their ugly heads once again. Marred by turnovers and bone-headed penalties, the Falcons once again served a game up on a silver platter and lost, 24-21.
Off to a hot start
The Falcons came out firing on all cylinders. Even though they didn’t get the ball first, they intercepted the football on the first pass of the day from 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck, courtesy of Paul Worrilow. Even though Matt Bryant missed the ensuing field goal attempt, the Falcons got the ball right back by way of a fumble recovery, again, courtesy of Paul Worrilow.
Then, the offense started to click. Matt Ryan started to hit his receivers (Roddy White included) and Devonta Freeman seemed back to his old self, ripping off a 39-yard run to end up deep in Colts territory (he had to leave the game two plays later because of a diagnosed concussion). However, again, something happened that gave you a sense that the game might not go as expected—a turnover in the end zone. Matt Ryan, again, through an errant pass that was tipped and eventually intercepted by former-Falcon Dwight Lowery.
The Falcons eventually got on the board, jumping out to a 21-7 lead that included the first two of Patrick DiMarco’s touchdowns this year. However, even that proved to be not enough to leave with a W.
Matt Ryan’s struggles continue
After Devonta Freeman left the game, and even though it didn’t show right away, the Falcon’s offense eventually started to struggle. The injury seemed to knock them out of rhythm, even though Coach Quinn said that they stuck to the game plan throughout. Matt Ryan, proving to be so reliable in the past, did not help the Falcons cause drive-killing errant passes. The offensive line did not play a flawless game, but it probably was good enough to get them this win if given the opportunity.
The running game was non-existent after Freeman left. Newly drafted Falcons’ RB Tevin Coleman didn’t get anything going. He also turned the ball over at the end of the third quarter in Colts’ territory. Even though it didn’t lead to any points, (Hasselbeck was again intercepted by Ricardo Allen) it further gave the Colts momentum that the Falcons sorely needed to finish the game.
In my opinion and to my surprise, what lost us the game was the play of Matt Ryan. Up 21-14 after the Falcons got the ball back after the fumble by Coleman, Ryan threw a horrible interception to D’Qwell Jackson that allowed him to walk right into the end zone and tie the game at 21 all. He claimed he didn’t see Jackson at the line of scrimmage, but still, in that situation, with the Falcons at their own one-yard line, it would have made sense to just run the ball to give them some room to breathe.
Since it was the fourth quarter, there still was a sense of optimism, because Matt Ryan, over his career, had shown that the 4th quarter was where he felt the most comfortable, hence his nickname, “Matty Ice”. However, instead of hearing the usual cheers down the stretch, Matt Ryan was serenaded by boos, and rightfully so. Even though football is a team sport where everyone shares parts of the blame in a loss, one can’t help but feel that if it wasn’t for Ryan making some of the plays that he did in favor of the other team, the Falcons could have walked away with a victory. The Falcons take another L, with a W nowhere in sight
To be honest, the Falcons really needed to win this game. If they had, they would have moved to 7-3 with a healthy lead in the wild card race, as well as kept pace with the division-leading Panthers. Unfortunately, with the loss the Falcons’ free fall continues and the division is all but wrapped up for Carolina. At this point, the Falcons are only playing for a Wild Card spot, and even that at this point in time, seems bleak.
This loss felt like rock bottom, and as the saying goes, “there is nowhere else to go but up from here”. The Falcons are 6-4 and face a very good Vikings team that was humiliated by the Packers last Sunday. This game will be a must-win. The Falcons have got to find a way to pull this one out because the Seahawks and the Buccaneers, yes the Buccaneers, are breathing down their necks to take over the final wild card spot at 5-5. If they don’t win, they will most likely be on the outside looking in, still with two games left against the undefeated Panthers. If there was ever a time to “rise up”, it must be now.
- Devonta Freeman left the game in the first quarter with a concussion. He will not play against Minnesota.
- The Falcons play the Minnesota Vikings (7-3) Sunday at home. Losing four in a row could crush any confidence this team has left.