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Falcons 12, Vikings 28: An embarrassing loss resets expectations

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The first game of the 2019 regular season is a wrap. Thank god.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Minnesota Vikings Ben Ludeman-USA TODAY Sports

The first game of the Atlanta Falcons 2019 season takes them on the road to Minnesota, where they faced the Minnesota Vikings. Going in, everyone knew that the Vikings had one of the best defenses in the league, loaded with talent at all three levels. Let’s take a look at how the game played out.

First Quarter

The Falcons lost the coin toss and the Vikings opt to start on defense. The first play of the Dirk Koetter era (part 2) is ... a sack. Oy. A decent Devonta Freeman run gives the Falcons 3rd and 14. Unfortunately, a good Matt Ryan scramble did not pick up the needed yardage. To make matters worse, Matt Bosher’s subsequent punt was blocked. Things are going great already.

The Vikings start with an impressive first down run by Dalvin Cook, which is called back by offensive holding. Kirk Cousins immediately goes back to Cook on the pass to get some of those lost yards back. On the next play, though, the Vikings punch it in for the touchdown with a pass to Adam Thielen.

Falcons 0 - Vikings 7

The Falcons second showing on offense starts with Kenjon Barner taking the ball out of the endzone so they can start on the 15. Devonta has a nice run on first down, but a second straight run puts in Atlanta in 3rd and 4. Offsides by Everson Griffen gives the Falcons a freebie. It all falls apart on the next play as Matt Ryan forces it into double-coverage and is intercepted. Huzzah.

The Vikings offense takes the field and Deion Jones makes a fantastic tackle on a swing pass to Cook. Cook gets Deion back, leveling him on a big run on the next play. Cousins is drilled by Keanu Neal on the next play in what looks like an incomplete pass, but was ultimately called a fumble on the field. After a challenge by the Vikings, the fumble is reversed to an incomplete pass. On the very next play, Dalvin Cook rushes it in for the TD and a two-score lead.

Falcons 0 - Vikings 14

Down two touchdowns, the Falcons offense desperately needed to put something together. Ty Sambrailo subbed in at right tackle and the first play for the offense is a two yard run. The pass to Justin Hardy on the next play also went for a few yards. The subsequent 3rd and 5 converts to a first down when the Vikings jump offsides. Thank you, guys. A failed first down was followed by a quick 5 yard pass and another 3rd and 5. Amazingly, Ryan and the Falcons pick up the first down on a very short gain to Julio Jones. Devonta runs for a short loss and second down goes better, as Justin Hardy picks up the big gain. Chris Lindstrom gets called for an unfortunate block in the back, setting the team back 10 yards, setting up 2nd and 21. Ryan ended up missing Julio on a deep pass on the next play after Julio got bumped down field to slow his route. Russell Gage can’t stay in bounds on a nice catch and the Falcons are forced to punt.

The Vikings next drive started with three plays for a converted first down. Dalvin Cook took a toss for a big gain on the next first down. Thankfully, the gun fires bringing the first quarter to a merciful close.

Falcons 0 - Vikings 14

Second Quarter

The Vikings offense starts the second quarter with a quick pass to Kyle Rudolph, that is nullified by a block in the back on Deion Jones. Grady Jarrett blows up the next run play for a huge tackle for loss. A bobble snap leads to 3rd and 24 for the Vikings, who fail to pick up the first down on the draw. For the first time, the Vikings will punt. Kenjon Barner returns the punt to the 28 yard line.

The Falcons offense takes the field. Ryan starts strong, connecting with Mohamed Sanu for the the first down. Calvin Ridley steps up next with a 20 yard completion. Ryan scrambles for the first down immediately after. A promising drive ends with an unfortunate fumble by Devonta Freeman. The Falcons offense shoots itself in the foot.

The Vikings offense takes over and after a short run on first, and another on second, they faced a 3rd and 9. Minnesota finds Chad Beebe to convert for a first down. Isaiah Oliver is called for a very borderline PI call against Adam Thielen on the next play. The Falcons run defense does well, but the flags in the secondary are killing the team. Holding on third down gives the Vikings a free first down. Dalvin Cook gashes the Falcons on back to back runs, setting up first down inside their 20. Alexander Mattison runs for a big gain, going out at the 1 yard line. The Vikings mercifully punch it in on a Cousins QB sneak, putting the Falcons behind by three TDs.

Falcons 0 - Vikings 21

The Falcons offense takes the field again, mostly because they’re supposed to. Ito Smith starts the drive with an impressive big gain for an immediate first down. Julio Jones follows that up with another first down of his own. Ito takes the next reception for 9, setting up 2nd and 1, which he converts to first on the next run. An incompletion to Julio is followed by a short gain pass to Hooper. After the two minute warning, on 3rd down, the Falcons convert, but it comes back on an offensive holding penalty. Next play, Matt Ryan is sacked. They are forced to punt.

The Vikings start their subsequent drive with two ineffective runs and get to 3rd and 10. Deion Jones makes an impressive tackle, forcing the Vikings to fourth and 10 and into punting the ball.

The Falcons take to the offense with a little over 30 seconds left. A nice reception by Russell Gage is overshadowed by a hit to his head which was inexplicably not called. The Falcons go to halftime with no points on the board

Falcons 0 - Vikings 21

Third Quarter

The Vikings start the second half with the ball. After a short first down run by Cook, Cousins has the ball batted on the next down by Grady Jarrett, forcing a 3rd and 8. Vikings convert with a pass to Adam Thielen on the next play. On third and 2, the Vikings feel the wrath of Grady Jarrett again, who forces them to punt after blowing up their subsequent run.

The Falcons offense desperately needing to score on this drive, start with a nice gain to Austin Hooper. Devonta Freeman converts that gain into a first down. After a short throw to Hooper and a short run by Ito Smith, the Falcons convert on an offsides penalty on third and 2. A two yard gain by Freeman is followed by a first down completion to Austin Hooper. Mohamed Sanu makes a quick 4 yard gain. On third and 4, the Falcons convert on a toss to Calvin Ridley. Everson Griffen disrupts the flow with a sack on the following first down. On 2nd and 15, Ryan completes the to Sanu for a 7 yard gain. With 3rd and 9, the Falcons benefit from an obvious pass interference call in favor of Calvin Ridley. With a first and goal on the 2, the Falcons crap the bed as Matt Ryan throws another interception in the end zone. End this week please.

The Vikings offense comes in to hammer away at the hapless Falcons defense. The guys in purple hammer it on the ground, followed by a horrid penalty (identical to the one not called for Gage) and another horrid penalty against Keanu Neal puts them in scoring position yet again. Dalvin Cook finally punches it in to emphasize this complete obliteration.

Falcons 0 - Vikings 28

The Falcons offense retakes the field with seconds left in the quarter. The offense managed to get into 3rd and 10, only to fail to convert on a throw to Julio Jones. Falcons go 3 and out. Everything is awful and please bring on the apocalypse now. Bosher punts, both the ball and my soul.

Fourth Quarter

The Vikings get the ball back and run the ball to burn down the clock. A rare three and out gives the ball back to the hapless, pathetic offense.

The Falcons offense moves the ball by finding Austin Hooper on back-to-back plays, putting the team in scoring position very quickly. After a few more plays, Matt Ryan finds Calvin Ridley for the team’s first points of the day. Thank god. The two point conversion is no good.

Falcons 6 - Vikings 28

The Vikings came out looking to burn down the clock again. A short first down run is followed by 158 missed tackles, which leads to a first down. The Vikings continue to run it, converting more first downs and slowly eroding the clock, having mercy on fans who are still watching. The Falcons finally force a fourth down and the Vikings graciously punt it to us, daring Atlanta to try and score again.

The Falcons offense starts with a false start, because why not. The offense moved the ball well again, finding Hardy and Hooper to move the ball to midfield. The Falcons slowly and surely move the ball, but a third down sack ends with four million yellow flags hitting the field. The Falcons benefit from multiple penalties on the Vikings, keeping this pointless offensive drive alive. It plodded along, converting a fourth down to remind us that life is torture. Ryan finds Julio for the TD, adding points for the fantasy folks out there, but more misery for the rest of us. The two point conversion fails again.

Minnesota recovers the onside kick and the game comes to a merciful close.

Final: Falcons 12 - Vikings 28