Sunday's game against the Cardinals in Arizona started out poorly for Atlanta, with an anemic three-and-out on the very first possession, and it only got worse from there. Matt Ryan threw one touchdown pass, and four interceptions. Ryan was sacked four times. Ryan was also the Falcons' leading rusher with 13 total rushing yards, so that basically sums up what kind of game it was.
There was one key change on special teams, as Robert McClain returned punts for the Falcons, and McClain seems to be well-suited for that role. McClain averaged 13 yards per return on two attempts. He also delivered a punishing block on a Cardinals player that kept Arizona from downing a punt inside the 20 yard line.
The first quarter was not good. The Falcons failed to get any kind of ground game going, a struggle that would continue all day. They had a hard time completing passes, Ryan was under a lot of pressure, and their only score in the first quarter came on a Matt Bryant field goal after failing to score a touchdown on their only trip to the red zone that quarter. The defense looked promising early, with Asante Samuel intercepting a Carson Palmer pass intended for Andre Roberts on the Cardinals' second offensive series. Beyond that point, the defense struggled to contain Arizona's rushing or passing attack.
The second quarter was also not good. It started poorly, as the Cardinals scored a touchdown on a pass to Larry Fitzgerald, who was inexplicably wide open, in the opening seconds of the quarter. The Falcons got a sustained drive going after Jacquizz Rodgers returned a Jay Feely punt to the 21 yard line, but once again, the drive fell apart in the red zone, and Matt Bryant put another field goal on the board. The Cardinals answered with another touchdown, an 80-yard rushing touchdown from Cardinals running back Andre Ellington on the first snap of the possession. After another Falcons three-and-out, the Cardinals tacked on another touchdown, making it a 21-6 game, a score that would hold going into the half.
The third quarter wasn't good either, which is something that has become a hallmark of Falcons games these days. Atlanta's defense forced a punt from Arizona, but Matt Ryan threw an interception to end Atlanta's first possession of the second half. The pick led to a Cardinals field goal, extending their lead to 24-6. Matt Ryan threw an interception to end the Falcons' next possession, too.
The fourth quarter was the least bad of the game, with the Falcons showing some fight toward the end of the game. Ryan did throw another interception, which ended the Falcons' first possession of the quarter, and the Cardinals did turn the ensuing drive into a field goal, making the score 27-6. On Atlanta's next possession, Matt Ryan led an 80-yard drive that culminated in a four-yard touchdown pass to Drew Davis, Atlanta's first touchdown of the day, cutting Arizona's lead to 27-13.
Possibly the greatest moment of the day, not that there were many, was the onside kick executed after the Falcons' only touchdown of the day. Matt Bosher kicked a perfect onside kick, and actually recovered his own kick. Matt Bosher is a hero. Matt Bosher is the Chuck Norris of punters.
Sadly, it didn't matter, because the possession that began with the recovery of the onside kick ended with yet another Matt Ryan interception. Four interceptions is the most that Ryan has thrown since the team faced the Arizona Cardinals last season, when he threw five interceptions, but the Falcons won anyway. The Falcons did get one more shot, with 20 seconds remaining in the game, but an incomplete pass to Harry Douglas and a one-yard lateral to Jacquizz Rodgers weren't enough.
It wasn't a good game. There's no way to sugarcoat it. The offensive line wasn't good. Ryan had an uncharacteristically rough day, partially because the offensive line wasn't good, but he also made a couple of poor decisions. There were some incomplete passes that should have been caught. On defense, the line actually generated decent pressure on Carson Palmer at times, but they were really ineffective against the run, and coverage left a lot to be desired, too.
If there's one positive to take away from this game, it's that the young talent on Atlanta's roster is getting valuable game experience, which will benefit the team in the future. That's about all I've got right now.
Vent about the game, but please be respectful of your fellow Falcoholics.