The Atlanta Falcons lost a heartbreaker to the Carolina Panthers today. The final score was 20-17, and they had a chance to come back at the end, but alas, they didn’t. They’re now 4-4 on the year, a decidedly mediocre football team. Given the surprising strength of the division and the conference, the Falcons don’t look anything like a playoff team right now. This is not where we expected them to be at the conclusion of week nine. Here are my key takeaways:
The Falcons know how to shoot themselves in the foot (in their feet? in their collective foot?)
Penalties on penalties on penalties. The Falcons racked up 8 penalties. (Good for 70 penalty yards.) The offense nearly got flagged twice for delay of game, looking rushed and disorganized. These mental lapses don’t help their cause.
The Falcons can’t handle momentum swings
The Falcons had all the momentum in the first quarter. That changed in the second quarter, when the Panthers put up 14 unanswered points. Halftime didn’t help much, and the Panthers put up another 6 unanswered points in the third quarter.
Matt Ryan’s receivers are trying to ruin his life
Austin Hooper falls down in the middle of a route and Ryan is picked off. Julio Jones drops a wide open pass in the end zone, his first drop in the end zone since 2012. Those two plays, standing alone, don’t mean much. But Ryan’s receiving corps has let him down all year. Is some of that offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian’s fault? Absolutely. But these are clear examples of poor execution.
There’s plenty more to digest about this game. We’ll have much more coverage trying to make sense of this team’s shenanigans in the week ahead. For now, let’s all be miserable together. Your thoughts?