In the much-ballyhooed “rematch” against the five-time Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, the Atlanta Falcons were listless as they fell 23-7 in Foxborough, Massachusetts Sunday night. The Falcons are 3-3 on the season and there are more questions than answers in the fallout from the Dirty Birds’ latest defeat.
The Falcons were 2-of-9 on third down Sunday night while averaging 5.5 yards per rushing attempt. Many of those rushing yards came after the game was decided.
“Certainly, tough night for us, I know how badly our team wanted us to come out and play well and I think the real story of the game was our situational football,” Falcons head coach Dan Quinn admitted after the game. “On both sides, third down, didn’t play up to our standards and our struggles in the red zone of not scoring. So, one-and-four in not scoring down in the red zone. Had a field goal blocked, we missed a field goal.
“We went for one on downs and lost and to me, you know, it’s part of how this came about,” Quinn added. “Believe in the team, like crazy. We’ve got work to do to get to our standard of ball. And we will work like crazy to do that. But we are certainly disappointed in tonight that we didn’t execute in opportunities when they came about.”
The biggest play stemming from the Falcons’ failed comeback attempt was the 4th-and-1 play from the New England 1 yard line with 14:36 left in the 4th quarter. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian dialed up a jet sweep for wide receiver Taylor Gabriel and he was tackled by Kyle Van Noy for a loss of five yards.
“We thought they had all their big guys inside and we’d have to chance to get the ball outside, on the edge,” Quinn said regarding the doomed play call. “We had a difficult time, you know, against all the big guys, you know, getting movement. So we took a shot to get the ball out to the perimeter. For them, made a better play than we did. That was our chance, I thought, that was the right thing to do. Get aggressive and go try to get back in the game.”
Matt Ryan finished the game 23/33 for 233 yards and one touchdown to Julio Jones. Jones finished the game with 99 yards on nine catches. He was targeted thirteen times on the night.
“Yeah, I mean obviously to me it was a game where we had some opportunities to make some plays and didn’t make them,” said Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. “So I think that’s where you become frustrated when you have those opportunities, especially playing against a good football team like New England. You know that when you get your opps (opportunities) you have to take advantage of them. We missed on a few. I missed on a few. That kind of put us behind the eight ball.
“We were down early and that’s something that we’ve got to do a better job of moving forward,” he continued. “We’re 3-3 at this point. I always feel like you get what you earn in this league and that’s what we’ve earned so far. I feel like we can be a better football team but, as players, we’ve got to make our plays when we get the chances and that starts with me.”
Atlanta seeks to right the ship as they take on the New York Jets at Metlife Stadium this Sunday. The Jets are 3-4, following a tough 31-28 road defeat against the Miami Dolphins. Like, the Falcons, the Jets had a three-game winning streak and have followed it up by losing to the Patriots and Dolphins.
However, the similarities end there. The Falcons are struggling to establish an offensive identity, have difficulty finishing games and is searching for ways to feature running backs, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Dan Quinn said Wednesday he desires the number of rush attempts in the “high 20s.” That is a tall task considering the Jets limited the Dolphins to 53 rushing yards on 25 attempts (2.1 yards per rush attempt).
The Atlanta Falcons will travel to the Meadowlands to play the New York Jets. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Sam Rosen, Ronde Barber and Kristina Pink will provide the play-by-play, analysis and sideline reporting for FOX.