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Falcons - Chiefs recap: A one point loss to a contender that stings

The Chiefs loss wasn’t necessarily a bad one, but it felt bad, thanks to the way Atlanta lost.

Kansas City Chiefs v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

This one had all the emotional highs and lows of a classic Falcons game. The Falcons got ahead early, blew a lead, trailed by two scores for a long while, and then caught up and actually took the lead. Then they blew it on an interception coming on a two point conversion, and made history along the way, given that was the first time an NFL team had lost this way.

Take a step back from the raw emotion associated with the loss, and you’ll see that this was not an unreasonable one for Atlanta to lose, even if our staff anticipated a win. The Chiefs are now 9-3, are a genuine contender, and do have the kind of defense that can create turnovers and shut down even quality offenses, and all of that was on display against Atlanta. Couple that with a handful of terrific drives from the Chiefs offense against a scuffling Falcons defense, and it was enough to win the game.

Sort of, anyways. We do have to remember that the Falcons lost a few different ways today, and making a slightly different decision (or executing a bit better) on any of them could very well have led to an Atlanta win. Those include both decisions to go for two points (both of which I felt were defensible), the interception on one of those two point conversions, and the team’s repeated inability to see what was coming when Kansas City was going for it on third and fourth and short.

Again, the Chiefs are a good football team, which can lost in the heightened emotion of the moment. It’s the way the Falcons lost, having fallen behind on the back of anemic play, caught up, and then lost by a single point thanks to an odd scenario, that is really going to stick with the fanbase. With any luck, this will be the last difficult team the Falcons play, and perhaps their only loss through the regular season. I’m deep in my wishful thinking at the moment, as you’ll note.

Ultimately, this isn’t a fatal loss, but it is one that increases the urgency level for this Falcons team, decreases their margin of error, and scratches away at the goodwill the Falcons built up a week ago. We’re firmly in the roller coaster portion of the season again, and the best move is to remember that the Falcons can still likely make the playoffs if they can manage 3 wins (or perhaps even 2) over these last four games if the Buccaneers don’t continue their hot streak all the way to the playoffs. This Falcons team can be real good sooner than later, if the defense starts to come together, but games like this continue to serve as a reminder that this team is not there yet, and a game where the offense falls a little short is a game they will very likely lose.

On to the full recap.

The Good

  • The Falcons got off to a blazing start in this one, which I had assumed would be enough to keep them going. Alas, that was almost as good as it got for the offense.
  • On a day where the Falcons’ passing game went from amazing to merely okay, the ground game was critical. While the numbers don’t jump off the page, both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman ran well against a strong Kansas City defensive front, combining for over 100 yards and two touchdowns, both from Freeman.
  • It wasn’t one of Julio Jones’ most impressive days—those involve numbers like “200” and “300”—but he still turned in a nice rebound performance, reeling in seven catches for 113 yards.
  • Levine Toilolo had one catch for 42 yards. I invite you to mull that over for a bit, as a man considers alien technology.
  • Vic Beasley has 10.5 sacks on the season, which is more than I anticipated, and he’s forced five fumbles along the way, making him one of the more destructive forces in the NFL this season. I never thought he was going to be a bust, but I didn’t think he was going to get to double digit sacks this season. I’m happy to be wrong.
  • The Falcons got torched a bit through the air today, but Jalen Collins wasn’t to blame. He was targeted just twice, per Andrew Hirsh with the Falcons, and didn’t allow a reception. The man has come a long way, even if he’s not going to get truly tested again until the Saints game.
  • Ra’Shede Hageman has had a disappointing year and has a very cloudy future in Atlanta, but he’s still a savant at blocking extra points, and he did so on the Chiefs’ first drive.
  • Matt Bryant has those moments where for all his stocky build and unremarkable height, he seems like an alien from another planet. His 40th birthday is in his rear view mirror and he’s still hitting 59 yard kicks (a career high) like nothing.

The Ugly

  • Atlanta put a lot of pressure on itself to score with less than a minute to go in the first half, and Matt Ryan wound up throwing a deeply unfortunate pick six that put them in the hole heading into halftime. Then they put pressure on themselves in the second half to go for two and get a three point lead in the fourth quarter, and Matt Ryan tossed an interception returned for a score on the two point converison. At this point, I hated everything, even life itself.
  • The defense got absolutely eviscerated by the Chiefs in the first half, with only Vic Beasley’s timely strip sack saving them from an early deficit. The Chiefs were able to march down the field and their first and third drives for touchdowns, encountering only light resistance, and they turned a 4th and short in the red zone into a fairly easy touchdown.
  • Look, let’s not beat up every single player and just focus on the fact that this was, as so many of the team’s losses have been, a genuine team loss. There were questionable calls from the coaching staff, poorly designed plays that led to the Falcons settling for field goals and turning the ball over. There was some really poor defense, especially against an offense not known for lighting up the scoreboard. They just blew so many opportunities that recounting them all in this recap space seems kind of like a waste of time, especially when I know Allen Strk, DW, and Charles McDonald will do so later this week. Suffice to say this was a tough loss, and the Falcons are going to have to work hard in the coming weeks to overcome it.

The Wrapup

Game MVP: There just isn’t one. This was an upsetting loss, and while several Falcons legitimately played well in the face of that, you have to be truly exceptional to earn this vaunted (?) award in a bad loss.

One Takeaway: There is no such thing as continuous forward momentum in the NFL, and the Falcons are seesawing after a strong start to the year.

Next Week: The Falcons hit the road to play the awful Los Angeles Rams, who have a tough defense and lackluster offense. Where have I heard this before?

Visit Turf Show Times (one of my favorite SB Nation sites) for more on the Rams.

Final Word: Ugh.