The Falcons are just getting embarrassed on a weekly basis now. They’ve passed from disappointing to bad to terrible in the blink of a few weeks, to the point where the offense and defense are working in tandem to ensure games are lopsided and offensive to our eyes.
The Falcons started this one out promisingly enough, scoring first and looking game on defense early, but they found themselves in a deep hole soon enough and just keep digging. By the time we got to the late third quarter and the score was 34-7, it was hard not to feel like this team had legitimately quit.
That’s a problem! As you’re well aware, I try to take the long view and temper my extremely angry in-game feelings, but I’m struggling with that this week. This is a team that needs a wakeup call in the worst way, and this team will have to balance the urge to send a very needed message with the way they’ve traditionally done business. The end result is still likely to be that all the earthquakes start in the offseason, but each passing week ineptitude makes that patience less satisfying. Ultimately, being a fan involves emotion and giving a damn about this team, and we all have an upper limit for how much losing we can stand before we start getting pissed off. Honestly, that was weeks ago, and the numbness is setting in.
Smaller picture, the Falcons got blown out again, and that virtually cements changes coming in the weeks and months ahead, which is actually a positive. If this team takes concrete, smart steps to fix its issues, it’ll mean a better 2019 almost by default, but the questions this season has raised about Atlanta’s heart and talent and coaching acumen are not going to go away and shouldn’t. Their play against Green Bay this week should not be something that can happen, not with the way the Packers have played this year, and guarantees both a losing season and that looming change.
With Atlanta United fresh off a championship, the contrast between that team and the Falcons has to be incredibly galling to owner Arthur Blank, who has always been one of the more invested NFL owners. He’s made it clear again and again that the team doesn’t intend to start over by clearing out Dan Quinn and/or Thomas Dimitroff, and I do expect him to stick to that, but these are fraught times and the Falcons have suffered five embarrassing, increasingly lopsided defeats in a row. He’s never been the kind of owner to make a drastic move and we’ve never expected it, but honestly this team could not be much more embarrassing and out of sorts than they have been for weeks now. It’s going to be a long offseason in Atlanta, and it’s a mortal lock that this team won’t look the same on the front office, the coaching staff, or roster as they do right now.
Tevin Coleman kicked things off with a five yard run, followed by a sideline bomb to Julio Jones that went for 28 yards, was challenged by Green Bay because of the way the ball was moving, and stood. Then Ty Sambrailo got hit with a false start, Ryan hit his second sideline pass to Julio Jones, and incredibly the Packers challenged the call yet again. It stood again. The Falcons got quite a few yards with Coleman, Marvin Hall got blown up in the backfield, and Ryan hit Mohamed Sanu for a first down over the middle. Then Ryan found Julio down the sideline for his third reception of the drive, which went for a touchdown.
Falcons 7 - Packers 0
The Packers got a swift first down on consecutive passes to Equ...Equan...E. St. Brown. Then the Packers picked up eight, was forced out of the pocket and threw it away, and then Davante Adams beat Robert Alford (who in fairness was on him) for a first down. Then they got a nice carry by Jamaal Williams and a big pickup on a short pass to the outside, and were swallowed up on first down by Jack Crawford. Then Robert Alford was hit with a pass interference call, naturally, and Davante Adams caught a touchdown working against him on the next play.
Falcons 7 - Packers 7
The Falcons got a quick hit to Julio and then a first down pickup by Tevin Coleman. Then Coleman ran for another first down before getting bottled up on the next play, but it was still his best start in weeks. The Falcons got a solid pickup from Ito Smith before Ryan hit Mohamed Sanu voer the middle for yet another first down. Unfortunately, the Falcons somehow stalled out with Matt Ryan losing his grip on the ball and throwing into the dirt on third down (it was sort of a fumble), and Matt Bryant missed the long field goal. It was an ugly sequence, and it gave the Packers the ball back around the 40 yard line.
They did nothing with it. Incomplete on first down, deep bomb to JImmy Graham that was broken up thanks to a heroic Foye Oluokun effort, and then Desmond Trufant sacked Rodgers on third down to force the punt.
The Falcons got nowhere on first down of their next drive, and a pass went incomplete to Calvin Ridley on second down. On third down, Ridley couldn’t make the catch (which, if we’re being fair, hit him in the hands) and Atlanta had to punt.
The Packers were stymied by a nice breakup by Isaiah Oliver (freshly in the game for Alford) and a tackle short of the markers, but Rodgers scrambled for a first down and then found Davante Adams on the sideline, and he beat Oliver easily for a first down. Then Aaron Jones picked up a first down after a pair of tough runs interrupted by a short Rodgers sideline pass. Then Rodgers found Adams for there to the sideline, followed by an out of bounds pass. De’Vondre Campbell put the nail in the drive with a sack of Aaron Rodgers that he wouldn’t let #12 spin out of, and Green Bay tried the field goal and got it.
Falcons 7 - Packers 10
Marvin Hall muffed the punt and had to pick it up, resulting in the next drive starting from the eight yard line. That was not quite ideal, and the resulting drive was even worse, as the Falcons picked up about seven yards and then threw a contested ball that was picked and returned for a touchdown.
Falcons 7 - Packers 17
Fortunately, Ito Smith was there. He reeled off a solid run followed by a huge one for a first down, and then rolled up another four on first down. Then Ryan found Julio Jones down the downfield for an excellent completion reeled in by Julio, but it was erased by a penalty. Then nothing good happened and the Falcons had to punt, yet again.
The Packers nearly got a Deion Jones interception on the next drive, while I quietly got drunk. On third down and short, the Falcons put Aaron Rodgers in hot water but he managed to get loose and scramble for a first down, and the Falcons got hit with two penalties on the same play. Vic Beasley spun his way into a sack just as the Packers seemed fated to drive and score, which was nice. Then Aaron Rodgers scrambled for a huge gain, Brian Poole made a nice tackle as Rodgers started to slide and both teams picked up penalties after a fracas, and Green Bay’s drive was still alive. They would see Rodgers sacked by Bruce Irvin, but Mason Crosby hit another field goal to give Green Bay a big lead heading into halftime.
Falcons 7 - Packers 20
The Packers came in looking to get us out of here more quickly. They largely did so, thanks to penalties by Atlanta that helped them move it along and some strong efforts by Aaron Jones. The drive ended with a bomb to Randall Cobb, who caught it over Sharrod Neasman, who never even looked up for the ball.
Falcons 7 - Packers 27
The Falcons got one decent results from Tevin Coleman, but Matt Ryan took a huge sack after Ty Sambrailo got beat on third down. Punt.
The Packers got nothing on their first run thanks to Steven Means, and then Deion Jones broke up the second down pass. The Falcons then rushed three on third down and saw an easy first down to to Davante Adams, followed shortly thereafter by a nice catch and run by Aaron Jones. And then a nice run by Jones. And then a Randall Cobb touchdown.
Falcons 7 - Packers 34
Atlanta’s offense was hilariously inept on the next drive, if we’re being honest. Mohamed Sanu’s gutsy sideline catch for a first down was erased by a holding penalty on Jake Matthews, and Ryan’s deep ball to Julio Jones wasn’t close and Julio didn’t lay out for it, not that it necessarily would’ve made a difference. Punt.
Green Bay didn’t fare much better, with Rodgers sailing throws as he’s been wont to do of late and the Falcons getting the ball back on a quick three and out.
The Falcons got moving a bit on a crisp pass to Julio Jones and Ito Smith running his heart out, and that carried us to the fourth quarter.
This finally looked better. Ito Smith caught a first down pass on fourth down and then Julio Jones rolled into the end zone for his second touchdown of the day, putting the Falcons back in the game. No, I’m totally kidding. They were still getting stomped.
Falcons 14 - Packers 34
The Packers ultimately stalled out. Honestly, I was busy writing other stuff for a few, I’m sorry.
The Falcons got the ball back and found Mohamed Sanu, Austin Hooper and Julio Jones willing to fight to make catches and keep the drive rolling, which at least gave us something to watch and enjoy for a short time. Then Russell Gage picked up a false start on third and short, backing the Falcons up, and Ryan found Calvin Ridley for a first down. They were all the way into the red zone before Alex Mack snapped the ball into Mohamed Sanu, who was in motion, and the Packers recovered the ball. Of course.
The Packers sort of futzed around until Jimmy Graham caught a third down pass against De’Vondre Campbell to pick up the first down, and the clock kept ticking. The Packers seemed intent on sending Atlanta home without any further embarassment, which was sort of appreciated. Ultimately, Atlanta did get the ball back.
The net effect of that? Some movement, but also an Austin Hooper injury, which was just one more thing we didn’t need to see. They did take a shot at the end zone to Mohamed Sanu, at least, but that was it for highlights until Justin Hardy caught his first touchdown of the year with less than 15 seconds to go, giving Atlanta some measure of dignity. Matt Bryant missed the extra point, though.