Richie Grant punches it out
The hat tips section of this is going to be noticeably light this week, as there was next-to-nothing to like in Atlanta’s performance against Dallas. The silver lining on this mildewed shroud of shame came in the form of safety Richie Grant forcing a fumble against Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott in the third quarter.
It was far too little and far too late for this play to impact the ultimate outcome, but it was a savvy piece of work by Atlanta’s second-rounder who has been searching for increased snaps on defense.
With safety Jaylinn Hawkins’ status uncertain for Thursday, it’s likely we’ll see more of Richie Grant. Plays like this one certainly buoyed his cause for more time on defense.
You, the viewer
As I said: light on positivity. You, hopeless Atlanta Falcons fan, took the time out of your Sunday to watch your favorite team get shoved into a locker on television. You could have been cleaning. You could have spent time with your family. No — you watched the Falcons turn to sloppy green bean casserole instead.
Kudos for hanging in there.
Erik Harris overruns the pick-six
Safety Erik Harris had a couple of bad plays that could be featured here. I’m going to focus in on his missed interception on the Cowboys’ initial offensive drive because it basically set the tone for the remainder of the day. In retrospect, this is when you knew the Falcons were simply not going to enjoy their time in Dallas.
On a pass intended for wide receiver Michael Gallup, Harris read Dak Prescott’s eyes and converged on the football — only to slightly overrun it, have it hit him in the hands, and fail to secure the pick. Had he held on, it was a surefire pick-six.
Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb would score a touchdown a couple of plays later.
This was just emblematic of Atlanta’s afternoon.
Avery Williams on CeeDee Lamb
Why was rookie corner Avery Williams staked with the task of man coverage on CeeDee Lamb? This was a clear mismatch on paper, and given Williams’ lack of defensive snaps, a task as tall as covering Lamb was a disaster in the making.
CeeDee Lamb exploited that mismatch early and often, contributing to Williams’ eye-popping (as in your eyes burst from your head Total Recall-style) 27.5 defensive grade on the day per PFF.
It exposed Atlanta’s lack of depth in the secondary, something they will need to address as soon as possible.
Matty’s bad day at the office
Let’s get this out there right away: Matt Ryan has been playing some brilliant football of late. He’s shown he’s still got the deep ball in his arsenal, he’s been clutch — he’s been what you want your franchise quarterback to be.
Sunday was not his day.
Ryan went 9-21 with 117 yards and two interceptions, the latter of which was a misfired ball in the third-quarter intended for tight end Kyle Pitts.
He had a lousy game — it happens — but it was apparent all-around that Atlanta was simply over-matched against one of the NFC’s top teams.