For a game that was actually closer than the final score indicated, that game was pretty awful. Putrid officiating may well have cost the team the game, but a less than completely stellar effort also doomed us. Chalk it up to growing pains, chalk it up to the Eagles, chalk it up to the referees, but the Falcons still lost.
We're still 4-3, though, so let's keep that in mind. A full dissection of the cadaver of a loss follows, after the jump.
- When did Roddy White become synonymous with excellence? When did it become fair to expect such consistent numbers despite premier cornerback coverage? It seems like just yesterday he was slapping balls across the field with his flippers, but he's come a very long way. If nothing else, we ought to celebrate a Matt Ryan-White connection that will hopefully delight us for years to come.
- Once again, Matt Ryan joins us in both sections. He made a lot of quality throws today despite a couple of big hits and a lot of harassment from the Eagles. Matty Iceballs has a great rapport with White, which hurts him when he tries to force it but works out well most of the time. He's clearly got an NFL arm, and he's done well. Of course, there were those interceptions....
- Curtis Lofton sacked a guy, and he like totally forced a fumble, and he was wicked all over the field! It was amazing! The rookie linebacker is starting to make his presence known, and it's always nice to see our D getting some pressure on the quarterback. I truly believe Lofton will be an anchor for the Falcons given some time, and the fact that he's already starting to emerge as a playmaker is very encouraging.
- On that note, another round of applause for Jamaal Anderson. I said two weeks ago that I thought he might loosen up a little after getting his first career sack, and the (very) early returns are encouraging. This team needs to be able to summon a little pressure from people not named John Abraham.
- Simply put, Adam Jennings got screwed. Watch the replay and you'll see that he clearly didn't touch the ball at any point. I'm loathe to defend Jennings, who still returns punts like a zombie shambles after brains. The refs made a stupid, stupid call and we had no timeouts left to challenge the play thanks to Mike Smith burning through them like a pack of cigarettes. Pointing the finger at Smith isn't particularly productive because he can't exactly predict a posterior pounding from the boys in zebra skins, so that pretty much leaves the refs. It may not be prudent to ask what if, but I'm pretty pissed that they cost us even the chance at winning the game.The latest in a string of piss poor calls this season.
- Ryan is going to continue to run into trouble until he feels he has other legitimate options besides White. If he's looking in the backfield he can usually find Norwood or even Ovie Mughelli, but downfield it's pretty much White and a collection of invisible guys. I'd like to see Harry Douglas get more looks, but we clearly need to upgrade the rest of our receiving corps.
- Michael Turner continues to look pretty ordinary against good run defenses, which is exasperating. I know that Turner is good enough to gash anyone, but whether it's his own running, our blocking or a combination of the two, he's just not getting it done. Matt Ryan just shouldn't be throwing 44 times a game unless we're down by a ton. At least he'll probably crush the Raiders next week, eh?
- I know Brian Westbrook is talented. I get it. But our front seven has to take a good chunk of the blame after he exploded for 167 yards on only 22 carries. For those of you who were in your cave during the game, his long was only 39 yards...meaning he repeatedly ripped the Falcons. Without him, there's a very good chance the Falcons would've won this game. With a defense that needs a lot of work against quality running backs, we're going to lose more games like this.
- Adam Jennings still needs to go the way of the dodo. He has no business returning punts for this team.
Game MVP: That has to go to Brian Westbrook for the Eagles. If I had to choose one for the Falcons, I guess I'd have to go with Roddy White's awesome performance.
Game Theme Song: We'll go with The Bravery's Honest Mistake, because I'd like to believe that referees are human too. It makes it harder to justify beating them senseless.
One Thing To Take Away: Life and football aren't always fair.
Next Week: The vampiric stylings of Al Davis and his amazing Oakland Raiders, who should--but won't necessarily--be easy for the Falcons to handle.
Final Word: We've still got a winning record, gents, and this is a loss best forgotten. Let's not forget the mistakes the Falcons made today, though, because we're likely to see some of them again.