Fan confidence in the Falcons is at an incredibly low point after a 1-3 start. That lack of confidence has even infiltrated our stable of writers. Going against a Texans team that has a dynamic young QB in Deshaun Watson and an elite receiver in Deandre Hopkins could be a death knell for head coach Dan Quinn. With that said, here’s how this critical game played out.
After the Texans win the toss and defer, the Dirk Koetter led Falcons offensive offense takes over on their 17 after Kendall Sheffield returns the kickoff. After a 1-yard loss on a first down run by Devonta Freeman, Ryan finds Hooper for a 5 yard gain. The drive dies early, though, as Ryan is pressured immediately and he can’t connect with Julio Jones. Atlanta punts.
The Texans take over near their 40 after the punt. A one yard run by Carlos Hyde is followed by a huge loss as Grady Jarrett forces a fumble on the next run (recovered by Houston), setting up 3rd and 24. Houston ultimately has to punt as well.
The Falcons offense takes over after a short punt puts them in good field position. Matt Ryan immediately connects with Julio Jones for a nice 12 yard gain. After a 2 yard run by Freeman, he’s unable to connect with Calvin Ridley, who slipped on the play. On 3rd and 8, Ryan finds Julio again to keep the sticks moving. A JJ Watt roughing the passer penalty gives Atlanta an additional 15 yards. Another short run by Devonta is followed up by a 14 yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu, giving the Falcons the early lead.
Falcons 7 - Texans 0
The Texans offense starts with a five yard pass to Will Fuller. A nice run by Hyde converts the first down. He follows it up with a 16-yard run up the middle. After a 2-yard run, Desmond Trufant breaks up the pass intended for Deandre Hopkins. Unfortunately, on 3rd and 7, Deshaun Watson fumbles it - recovers it - and runs for the first down. Dear god. On 2nd and 9, Watson connects with Fuller for 8 yards. On 3rd and 1, Watson connects with a wide-open Jordan Akins for a 21 yard gain. On 2nd and goal, Watson connects with Will Fuller for the touchdown.
Falcons 7 - Texans 7
With about 4 minutes left in the quarter, the Falcons offense starts at their 27 after a nice return by Sheffield. A short run by Devonta Freeman is followed by an incompletion intended for Julio. On 3rd and 8, Ryan finds Sanu for the first down completion. Ito Smith picks up 3 on his first run of the day and follows it up with a nice 11-yard run to keep the drive moving. Ryan follows that up with a big 24-yard pass to Calvin Ridley, putting Atlanta in prime scoring position. Ryan finds Justin Hardy for 5 yards and Ito Smith picks up 1 yard on the following run to setup 3rd and 4 at the end of the quarter.
Falcons 7 - Texans 7
Unfortunately, the 2nd quarter ends with Ryan barely getting a pass off under pressure. Matt Bryant comes on and punches in the 35-yard field goal.
Falcons 10 - Texans 7
The Texans take over on their own 40 after Matt Wile kicks it off out of bounds. Carlos Hyde is stopped for no run which doesn’t matter as Deandre Hopkins catches it for a nice gain and the first down. After a 7 yard run by Hyde, Fuller catches it just short of the sticks. On 3rd and 1, Carlos Hyde runs it up the middle to convert the first down. On the very next play, Watson finds Will Fuller again for a huge touchdown reception of 33-yards. Houston misses the extra point.
Falcons 10 - Texans 13
The Falcons offense starts with a missed deep ball to Julio, which they follow up with a quick pass to Ridley for a 7 yard gain. Ito Smith runs to convert the first down on the next play. Freeman is met in the backfield on the next run for a 2 yard loss. On 2nd and 12, Kaleb McGary is beaten by JJ Watt and Ryan is forced to throw it away. The 3rd and 12 ends in a short pass to Ito Smith as Ryan is pressured immediately. Atlanta punts.
On the Texans next drive, Hyde starts with a 4 yard run and that’s followed by a short pass to setup 3rd and 3. A short pass to Keke Coutee keeps the chains moving. After a nice 8 yard run by Hyde, he loses a yard on the next run when Grady Jarrett busts through the Texans OL. On 3rd and 3, Will Fuller picks up big yards on a short pitch and catch for 36-yards and the first down. On a subsequent 3rd and 12, Atlanta amazingly stops Houston short. The Texans go for the 50-yard field goal and punch it in.
Falcons 10 - Texans 16
The Falcons start on their own 18 after a short kickoff return by Sheffield. Ryan connects with Julio for 8. Freeman picks up the first down on the next run. Matty Ice finds Calvin Ridley for a nice 16-yard gain on the next play. After the two minute warning on 2nd and 8, Matt Ryan runs for the first down, which is not exactly ideal but whatevs. Freeman picks up big yards on the subsequent carry, putting Atlanta in prime scoring position. After Ito Smith is called for holding, out of 1st and 20, Ryan throws incomplete to Ridley. On 2nd and 20, Ryan finds Ito Smith for a short gain, but the Texans tack on a face-mask penalty giving Atlanta great field position and the first down. Ito is called for holding in one of the most pathetic calls I’ve seen, which the refs subsequently undo. What the hell? On the following 2nd and 10, Ryan finds Ito for a 5 yard gain. On 3rd and 5, Ryan finds Devonta Freeman on the screen for the go ahead touchdown to go into the half.
Falcons 17 - Texans 16
To start the second half, after a run for 2 yards and a pass to Hopkins for 4, Watkins finds Coutee for a big 51-yard pass. Hyde runs for 6 yards followed by a 4 yard run to convert the first down and setup 1st and goal. Isaiah Oliver stops Will Fuller just short of the touchdown on an out pass, but the Texans punch it in on the next play with a Carlos Hyde run for the go-ahead score. The Falcons defense is hapless yet again.
Falcons 17 - Texans 23
Starting from their own 25, the Falcons offense starts with a run up the middle for 1 yard. Sigh. A quick pass to Sanu is nullified by a clipping penalty on Alex Mack to setup 2nd and 20. An incomplete pass to Ridley sets up 3rd and 20, which ends with a 10 yard pass to Ito Smith and a subsequent Falcons punt.
The Texans offense takes over on their 34. Deshaun Watson runs it for 30 yards and I really just want to die when watching this Falcons defense. A Carlos Hyde run for 7 yards is followed by a catch by Will Fuller for the first down conversion. Deion Jones stops a run by Duke Johnson for 1 yard which is followed by a scramble by Watson for 3 yards. On 3rd and 5, Watson missed Fuller in the end zone and Houston settles for another field goal. They punch in the 26-yarder and extend their lead.
Falcons 17 - Texans 26
The Dirk Disappointments take the field again to see how disappointing they can really be. They start their offensive drive with a screen pass to Austin Hooper. On 2nd and 11, Ryan finds Freeman with the short pass to setup 3rd and 2. Unfortunately, the pressure gets home and Ryan is sacked to kill the drive. Falcons are forced to punt.
Starting from their own 12 yard line, Watson is nearly picked off but the Falcons gift the first down when Allen Bailey gets called for roughing the passer. After a holding penalty sets up 1st and 20, Watson connects with Will Fuller for 32 yards and the first down. The Texans kept the drive moving, highlighted by a 30-yard pass to Hopkins. Houston eventually adds another touchdown with the pass to Darren Fells. The meltdown is complete.
Falcons 17 - Texans 33
The Falcons start with a nice gain to Ridley for the first down. After a missed throw and a short completion and a false start by McGary, the Falcons end up with 3rd and 14. What do they do? Ryan connects with Hooper for 10 yards and the end of the quarter.
Falcons 17 - Texans 33
After the punt, DeAndre Carter muffs it and Atlanta recovers. After Devonta runs for 3 yards, the offense shoots itself in the foot with an illegal shift penalty. JJ Watt disrupts the next pass and on 3rd and 12, Ryan connects with Ito Smith for 11 yards. On 4th and 1, Ryan finds Sanu who takes it to the one yard line. After Ito Smith is stuffed on 1st and goal and Devonta Freeman is stuffed on 2nd and goal, Matt Ryan sneaks it in for the touchdown (which was almost a fumble but thank god for replays). The Falcons decide to go for 2 and convert it on a pass to Hooper, bringing the game to within one score.
Falcons 25 - Texans 33
The Texans offense starts with a first down run up the middle by Carlos Hyde. After another run for 4 yards, Watson connects with Watson for the big gain and the first down conversion. After a run for no gain, Hopkins gains 10 yards to keep the drive alive. Duke Johnson blows up the defense for a big 24 yard run. The drive mercifully comes to an end when Watson connects with Darren Fells for the touchdown.
Falcons 25 - Texans 40
The Dirk Disaster takes the field again to see what stats they can pad with 6 minutes left. Ryan connects with Freeman for a 9 yard gain, followed by an incomplete pass to Sanu. A roughing the passer penalty against Watt (again) keeps the drive going. Watt follows it up by beating McGary for the sack of Ryan on the next play. A short pass to Sanu sets up 3rd and 15, which is converted on a 16 yard gain to Austin Hooper. Ryan finds Hooper for another first down. After a throw away and a hold on Wes Schweitzer, out of 2nd and 20 Matt Ryan passes to Freeman for a nice gain. The drive ends successfully on the next play as Matt Ryan connects with Calvin Ridley for the touchdown on a beautiful 29 yard pass.
Falcons 32 - Texans 40
The Texans offense comes on to try and burn down the clock with a run and quick pass to setup 3rd and 2. Watkins finds Hopkins for the short reception and the first down conversion. After the two minute warning with 3rd and 5 to go, the Texans score again on yet another touchdown pass to Will Fuller.
Falcons 32 - Texans 47
The Falcons offense takes the field and Ryan finds Ito for 9 yards. A series of other passes happened, but Ryan is picked off for a pick 6 and everything in the world is awful, but at least this game ended.
Final: Falcons 32 - Texans 53