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Ranking the five worst games of the 2014 season

The Atlanta Falcons' 2014 season was rife with abysmal games.

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I've ranked the top five best performances of the 2014 season. Now, let's go on the opposite, depressing side of the spectrum.

But because there's way too much blame to go around to single out just individual performances, I'm changing it up and expanding the rankings to games as a whole.

1. Week 17: 34-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers with the division and playoffs on the line


Photo Credit: Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports

The stage was set.

The Falcons were coming off a dominating win over the New Orleans Saints to set up a winner-take-all matchup against the Carolina Panthers in the Georgia Dome.

All Atlanta needed to do was defeat a Carolina team they bested in Week 11 to advance to the playoffs with a 7-9 record and a 6-0 record against the NFC South.

Instead, the Falcons got stomped 34-3. Apparently, every coach and player forgot what was at stake.

2. Week 8: 22-21 loss to the Detroit Lions after blowing a 21-point lead


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Finding a way to lose to the Lions after building a three-score lead was probably the most inexplicable loss of the season.

Atlanta quickly built a 21-0 lead by halftime and looked to be in the driver's seat for the remainder of the game. But the wheels came off as the Falcons began to pull defeat from the jaws of the victory.

There's no shortage of blame to go around here.

You can point to Matt Ryan's egregious interception as he tried to throw the ball away. Highlight Julio Jones' terrible drop on a screen pass on third down that stopped the clock and gave the Lions plenty of time — or question the play call by Dirk Koetter.

But it has to be Mike Smith that takes the brunt of the blame. Curiously, he called a timeout after the Lions ran the ball with little time left and no timeouts of their own. If that timeout hadn't been called, Detroit would've had to scramble to get Prater onto the field. Instead, they were given new life, and, consequently, an improbable victory.

3. Week 12: 26-24 loss to the Cleveland Browns after Mike Smith timeout gaffe


Photo Credit: Jason Getz/USA TODAY Sports

Like the Lions game, there's no reason why the Falcons dropped the game against the Browns.

Down 23-21, Atlanta drove the ball down to Cleveland's 35. On 3rd and 2 with less than a minute left, Smith, for whatever reason, opted to call a timeout.

Calling a timeout served absolutely no benefit for the Falcons. The timeout made less sense when the play call was an incomplete deep shot to Devin Hester, which again stopped the clock and gave the Browns plenty of time to put together a game-winning drive.

Smith's explanation? "They would've used a timeout probably if we hadn't."

4. Week 4: 41-28 loss to a Minnesota Vikings team with no offensive threats


Photo Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn/USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings, without their best player in running back Adrian Peterson and with rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater making the first start of his career, piled up an inane 558 yards of offense.

Bridgewater passed for over 300 yards and scored a 13-yard rushing touchdown.

Rookie running back Jerick McKinnon showed out as well, rushing for 135 yards on 18 attempts. Wide receiver Jarius Wright had a coming out party with eight receptions for 132 yards. Matt Asiata added in three rushing scores.

The Falcons were woeful defensively, and offensively, Roddy White had arguably his worst game of the season. He was targeted a game-high 14 times, but only caught four of those passes.

The double-digit loss was a huge letdown after the Falcons dominated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the week before.

5. Week 6: 27-13 home loss to a middling Chicago Bears team


Photo Credit: Jason Getz/USA TODAY Sports

After losing two games consecutively on the road, the Falcons had a chance to turn things around at home against a struggling Chicago Bears team.

Instead, the Falcons made the Bears look like world beaters.

Jay Cutler had far and away his best game of the season, throwing for 381 yards with no turnovers. Both Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall eclipsed the 100-yard mark, and Matt Forte finished with 157 total yards and two touchdowns.

Atlanta managed to tie the game up at 13 in the third quarter, but the Bears put the final 14 points on the board to cruise to the victory.

Bears fans took over the Georgia Dome. Ryan was forced to use a timeout at one point because the offense couldn't hear him.

Provide your rankings in the comments.