The 2018 season is in the rearview, and there were plenty of unhappy moments. After some time to reflect, our staff is here to discuss the absolute worst moments of the Falcons’ 2018 season.
Player after player went on injured reserve, the team looked utterly uncompetitive for a significant stretch, and there were countless boneheaded plays and mistakes on both sides of the ball.
After the Super Bowl LI loss, Dan Quinn said the Falcons would need to “embrace the suck.” We’re getting that part out of the way here at The Falcoholic. Share your worst moment of the season in the comments.
The Browns game
The Browns were much improved this year and even found themselves in playoff contention late in the season for the first time in recent memory. That doesn’t mean the Falcons should have lost to them.
It was hard to narrow this one down. Both losses to the Saints were infuriating, because losing to the Saints is always the worst. Losing so many quality players to injured reserve hurt like hell, no pun intended. But after a strong showing in Washington, the Falcons looked utterly disinterested and unprepared against the Browns. It was a winnable game and a win would have kept playoff hopes alive and built on the momentum from the previous week. Instead, the loss kicked off a five-game skid that effectively ended the season. - Jeanna Thomas
The opening disaster at Philly
One wonders what exactly might’ve happened if the Falcons had not had to open the season at Philadelphia. The rainy conditions and late start made the field choppy and threw the guys out of sync, and that’s a game they lost in more than one way. It wasn’t just the flashbacks to the January playoff loss through the end zone fracas that cost them the game; it was seeing both Keanu Neal and Deion Jones go down with season-altering injuries. The Falcons never quite rebounded from that game, as it set a moribund tone for the rest of the season. You just knew things were different from here, and not in a good way. The City of Brotherly Love was not kind to The Brotherhood in 2018 in the slightest. - Cory Woodroof
The Bengals loss
This was the exact moment I knew that the season was probably in real danger, and it remains the single most disappointing moment of the season. Fresh off a loss against the Saints, the Falcons were 1-2 but had a slate of relatively easy opponents coming up after the Steelers. If they had beaten the Bengals, they would’ve been .500 coming out of that game and, if things had gone exactly the same way they did over the next few games, 5-3 coming into the back half of the season.
But they lost the game to the Bengals, a game in which they scored 36 points, by a single point. They lost because reliable stalwarts failed and injuries had mounted and the offense, insanely, couldn’t do quite enough to overcome that. It was clear then that the team wasn’t going to win just on the strength of a juggernaut offense, and while there were plenty of surprises and disappointments the rest of the way, this single loss sticks out as a harbinger of the many failures to come. - Dave Choate
Watching Duke Riley do things on a football field
Duke Riley was forced into starting middle linebacker duties once Deion Jones went down with a foot injury, and while he made a play here and there, most of it was big time bad. It’s like he runs parallelograms in coverage. With rookie Foye Oluokun’s growth and Deion Jones’s return, Riley saw his snaps drastically reduced at the end of the season, which was good for my eyes. - Carter Breazeale
The Steelers game
The Cleveland Browns game sure was a low point, but I think we first got very worried in Pittsburgh. Similar to riding a roller coaster and hearing some very weird noises, bad things were definitely about to happen. The Steelers had been reeling early in the season while the Falcons were 1-3, but each game ended within one score. There was enough optimism the team was still close despite injuries to Keanu Neal, Deion Jones, and Ricardo Allen. Then the Falcons fell apart in Pittsburgh. It showed the Falcons just weren’t ready to do it in 2018. It was the beginning of the end and there was little optimism the team could come back from 1-4. - Matt Chambers
Ravens shutting us down
It’s difficult to top the moments listed above, so I’ll just say the Baltimore Ravens game. Why? Because they completely shut the team down and basically prevented Matt Ryan from having his best season yet. Don’t get me wrong, Ryan still had a MVP-level season, but it could’ve been better. He finished only 20 yards short of his 2016 mark, and 76 yards short of joining the 5,000-yard club. Ryan threw for his fewest passing yards in 2018 against the Ravens, with only 131 yards. Like I said, still a great season, but makes you wonder what could’ve been. - Evan Birchfield