It happened once again.
A fast Falcons start on both sides of the ball as well as special teams. A halftime lead that did not necessarily spell "comfort," but was pleasing at the very least. Once the wheels fell off in the beginning of the second half against the Miami Dolphins this past Sunday, the wagon went downhill at a terrifying speed, smacked a wall, caught ablaze, and burned down a village by the time the clock hit triple zero.
A 17-0 halftime lead dreadfully turned into a 20-17 win for the Dolphins, leaving the Falcons at 3-2 on the season, on a two-game losing streak, and heading into what is possibly their biggest game all season.
Looking for positives within this game? You may be exploring for a considerable amount of time. The Falcons did hold the Dolphins offense to just 289 total yards of offense and held them to just 5-of-12 on third down (I'm reaching at this point).
This has become an unwanted, reoccurring theme for the Falcons at times during the overall productive Dan Quinn-era. Games against opponents where the Falcons have the upper hand in overall talent and suddenly find themselves wondering what went wrong.
It did not help at all that the ultra talented one-two combination at running back in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combined for just 18 carries on the game. It also did not help that the offensive play-calling seemed lost and tasteless at times during the game. Having an extremely fast defense that totaled zero sacks on the game and only one turnover did very little to change the ultimate outcome.
I'm usually not the writer who focuses in on the negativity of a Falcons contest. Often times, I make an effort to display optimism. After viewing this week six contest versus the Dolphins, this was a performance that proved once again that mentally, the talented Falcons still have work to do. In a hurry.
It may very well be the case that the Falcons were looking past Miami. Can you blame them? I mean, in a few days this team has a trip to Foxboro to wrestle the Patriots and the abundant amount of flashbacks from the game played in February. For a young team still learning how to grow as a unit, it is difficult to say that they did not get wide eyed and overlook a Dolphins team that posed less of a threat.
Nonetheless, that is what separates teams in NFL: The ability to bring the mental aspect for four quarters. The Falcons did not bring that element with them against the Dolphins. When Miami swung, they connected on team’s chin, and did it more than once with very little response if any. For a team coming off a Super Bowl appearance, that is unacceptable.
So here we are. The Falcons find themselves once again in a familiar position. Where many outside of football circles (and a lot within as well) are viewing the Falcons as more of a sideshow and not the main event. Losses such as one we witness this past Sunday will do that. Now a mountain of a challenge lies ahead. But first, the Falcons still have to learn how to clear the little hurdles of the NFL.