Bad news first, I always say.
First off, the Falcons lost to the Saints yesterday. That's never a good thing, particularly when we were so close to giving a division rival their first loss of the season. We also lost our seventh game, essentially knocking us out of the playoff race (I think our chances are something like 1.5%) and giving the Falcons no margin for error over the last three games of the season. That's obviously not good in any way, shape, or form.
The bright side of all of this is that the Falcons very nearly managed to beat the Saints minus their starting quarterback, running back and top cornerback. The team can still break that ridiculous 40-plus year streak of futility by sweeping their last three games against the Jets, Bucs and Bills. And last but not least, beer still tastes good. So we got that going for us.
There will be plenty of time in the week ahead to dwell on what's...well, ahead. For now, join me after the jump for an abbreviated version of our weekly rundown. Rather than dominate the discussion, I'd like to hear from you, since I missed most of the game and am still catching up at this point. Check it out, after the jump.
- Chris Redman could've curled up in a tiny ball after last week's debacle against the Eagles, but instead he came out swinging against a suffering Saints secondary and fired darts most of the day. His interception wasn't great—then again, those never are—and his throw at the end of the game lies on his shoulders as much as anybody else's. It's good to know that we can hang in tough games with him under center, though.
- Jerious Norwood and Jason Snelling were both decent, and Snelling got it down on the goal line this time around. Norwood doesn't look as explosive as he has in the past, but they're an effective enough tandem for the moment, especially with Snelling enjoying a good game on the receiving end until that fateful, game-ending play. I will certainly be glad to get Michael Turner back, though.
- Michael Jenkins has an odd rapport with Redman, and he had one beautiful catch and run for a touchdown. Honorable mention to Tony Gonzalez, who is as solid as they come week in and week out.
- Sure, they were all short field goals, but isn't it nice to feel like Lucy isn't about to pull the ball away from Charlie Brown every time your kicker trots out onto the field? Matt Bryant is doing well.
- A single 37 yard return? Ho hum. Eric Weems will bring one to the house one of these days.
- The defense got smacked around, yes, but they didn't totally embarrass themselves. So there's that.
- The play-calling reared its ugly head again. Mike Mularkey seems to be in love with gadget plays at the most inopportune times, and when the pressure ramps up he and Mike Smith seem unable to put their heads together and trot out something that works. Case in point was the short pass to Jason Snelling, which involved a receiver who did not make it past the first down mark, a clearly open Tony Gonzalez (decoy or no) and seemingly no clear idea of an alternative besides having Snelling trot a few feet and then throwing the ball. When the game or our dignity is on the line, this has been happening of late, and it's really disconcerting. I have a feeling Thomas Dimitroff will be tasked with taking a hard look at Mike Smith's coordinators in the off-season.
- My kingdom for a pass rush! We've spent the entire season ragging on Chris Houston & Co., but today he was out and I actually thought Brent Grimes and Chris Owens did a very solid job. If you can't even lay a finger on the opposing quarterback, your corners are basically trying to rein in a charging bull with an unraveling skein of yarn. We definitely need a top-flight cornerback, but without improvements to our pass rush, it's not going to matter.
- Arrgh, we lost to the Saints!
Game MVP: Take your pick on offense. I'm kind of tired of picking our most valuable player in a loss when no one really, truly stands out.
Game Theme Song: A disappointed, icy silence.
One Thing To Take Away: It's just not going to happen this year. I had really dreamed of the playoffs,but it's time to let that one go. There's always 2010.
Final Word: Awdamnit.