The Atlanta Falcons came into a must-win game against the New York Jets and...well, they tried very hard to lose it, at times.
The encouraging things we saw today included more explosive plays, generally good defense, and Matt Bosher finally hitting a massive punt that was too hot for Jeremy Kerley to handle. The discouraging things were terrible execution in the rain, including fumbles, dropped passes, and missed opportunities that would have made this one a snoozer.
Thankfully, though, despite the sloppiness and frustrating stretches, the Falcons walked off the field with a win. That gives them something to build on after a month of endless frustration, and it puts them back above .500. May this be the first of many wins for this team going forward.
Here’s the drive-by-drive recap for the game, featuring twists, turns, and both happiness and anger.
The Jets picked up 12 yards on their very first carry of the game after receiving the opening kickoff, and then picked up another first down on two short carries and a seven yard pass. Unfortunately, Vic Beasley was injured on that play.
The Jets got a pass interference call and then Josh McCown nailed Austin Sefarian-Jenkins for a 20 yard touchdown pass. It was, to put it mildly, embarrassingly easy.
Jets 7 - Falcons 0
The Falcons kept right on embarrassing themselves, running once for five yards and throwing two incomplete passes in a row before a penalty bailed them out. On the next play, Matt Ryan fumbled the ball, and the Jets had it again.
Fortunately, the Falcons offense held them to six yards and a quick three and out on the subsequent play, preventing a potentially backbreaking touchdown. Even more fortunately, Chandler Catanzaro missed wide right on the subsequent field goal, leaving the Jets’ lead at 7.
The Falcons finally got some giddyup on the next drive, connecting with Levine Toilolo once and Austin Hooper twice (plus a nice Devonta Freeman run) en route to the Jets’ one yard line. It’s worth noting that the Falcons were in hurry up here with Matt Ryan calling the shots, and his final one yard touchdown pass to Austin Hooper was fantastic.
Falcons 7 - Jets 7
The Jets got a first down, but then stalled out on third down on the next series and were forced to punt. The Falcons run defense looked, to put it mildly, better. Unfortunately Andre Roberts messed up the subsequent punt return and the Falcons were inside the ten yard line.
Spoiler alert: They screwed it up. After two nice Devonta Freeman runs, Matt Ryan fumbled for the second time, and the Jets got the ball back in favorable territory.
They also screwed it up. With a first down holding call they backed up to 1st and 20, and had to settle for a 43 yard Chandler Catanzaro field goal.
Falcons 7 - Jets 10
The Falcons kept their offensive wizardry going on this drive, thankfully, hitting quality passes to Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu, and getting Devonta Freeman more involved. They got close to the goal line before stalling out at last, with Austin Hooper dropping a quality Matt Ryan pass that would’ve given Atlanta a touchdown lead. Matt Bryant hit the chip shot field goal, though.
Falcons 10 - Jets 10
The Jets swiftly went three and out, but the Falcons colossally screwed up yet again, with Andre Roberts muffing the punt and nearly leading to a turnover. They started from their own ten yard line, went three and out, and were forced to punt.
The Jets didn’t waste their next drive, which included a 24 yard touchdown pass to Robbie Anderson to give them back the lead. The Jets moved the ball with relatively ease when they weren’t running the football.
Falcons 10 - Jets 17
The Falcons moved aggressively down the field with just over two minutes to go, with Mohamed Sanu making three straight nice catches at one point. Unfortunately, they did stall out in the red zone yet again, with two straight missed connections with Julio and a sack. Matt Bryant was up to the task of hitting a 45 yarder in the rain, though, and Atlanta closed the gap.
Falcons 13 - Jets 17
The Falcons got the ball back and squandered the opportunity, getting close but ultimately having to punt the ball away. Matt Bosher’s punt was short and out of bounds again, unfortunately, giving the Jets favorable field position. They didn’t do much of anything with it, though, and punted.
The Falcons got the ball back at the 1 yard line because special teams has been an unmitigated disaster at times in 2017. They proceeded to run the ball twice up the middle with Tevin Coleman and see Matt Ryan pressured, which resulted in an incomplete pass. Another punt, this one to the Atlanta 47.
The Falcons did work on the subsequent drive, with a Desmond Trufant sack, two drawn penalties, and ultimately a punt. Atlanta ball!
The Falcons connected on a 54 yard gain from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones, a truly great play that put them in an excellent position. They then ran three plays that combined for eight yards, and settled for a field goal.
Falcons 16 - Jets 17
The Jets actually fumbled on the subsequent drive, but predictably got it back, and followed it up with a 32 yard reception as Robbie Anderson continued to murder the Falcons’ defensive backs in cold blood. They had 3rd and 9 on the 23 when the quarter ended.
Miraculously, Grady Jarrett got the third down sack, and Chandler Catanzero missed his second field goal of the day.
The Falcons got 57 yards out of two Tevin Coleman carries on their very next drive, but then they almost lost their third fumble of the game, too. Thankfully, it wasn’t fatal, because Matt Ryan hit Mohamed Sanu (who made a beautiful catch) in the end zone for six. The Falcons had the lead back, at last. Sorrowfully, they failed to pick up the two point conversion, but hell.
Falcons 22 - Jets 17
Of course, the good feelings never last long. The Falcons allowed the Jets to get down the field quickly, with Robbie Anderson killing them again and a roughing the passer penalty. Thankfully, with a Takk sack and stiffening defense, they only gave up a field goal. That made it a two point game.
Falcons 22 - Jets 20
Atlanta got a five yard run from Devonta Freeman, and followed it up with an offensive holding and intentional grounding call. They completed a 22 yard pass to Tevin Coleman, but it was just short.
Thankfully, and against all odds, Matt Bosher’s punt was muffed by Jeremy Kerley, and recovered by Kemal Ishmael. I shouted at my TV and computer. The Falcons were predictably unable to capitalize, however, as they went nowhere and turned it over to Matt Bryant for another short field goal.
Falcons 25 - Jets 20
The Jets got the ball back with time and a five point deficit. They were unable to do anything of note, though, and had to punt. Andre Roberts returned it 80 yards for a touchdown, but the Falcons got popped for a ticky tack penalty on Sharrod Neasman, and thus it did not count. As is typical.
Thanks to the magic of Mohamed Sanu, the Falcons got a crucial first down and caused the Jets to use their final timeouts. Clock grinding mostly accomplished, they punted it away, with the Jets getting the ball back at their own 4 yard line with 1:07 left.
The Jets burned their time, got hit with a delay of game penalty, and this one was over. WIN!