Sunday was a snoozer for 45 minutes of gameplay. It was the most hopelessly lost this team has looked on a football field the entire season. Missing both tight end Kyle Pitts and running back Cordarrelle Patterson, the Falcons were severely lacking in offensive firepower as it was; and their inability to slow down Tom Brady or construct a sideline powerpoint presentation in real time to show why the referees were wrong ultimately led to their undoing.
Read on for Week 4’s iteration of Hat tips & head-scratchers.
First-quarter fourth-down stop
The Falcons got a massive fourth-down stop in the first quarter, a welcome sight from a defensive line that’s still in a transitional phase. Anchored by all-world defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, the D-line has looked servicable at worst through four games — and that’s a certain change of pace from a unit that’s been dreadful since dinosaurs walked the Earth.
When Tom Brady & Co. elected a 4th-&-1 try deep in Atlanta territory, the defensive front swallowed up running back Leonard Fournette short of the first-down mark. EDGE Ade Ogundeji and Jaylinn Hawkins were credited with the tackle, but the entire line gets kudos for that one.
Avery Williams’ first career touchdown
Avery Williams officially opened his NFL account with a nifty bit of groundwork in the third quarter. From the Tampa eight-yard-line, Williams weaved through traffic and punctuated his first professional score with a spin move to find the end zone.
Williams was initially drafted as a return specialist, but in Cordarrelle Patterson’s absence, he showed that he can be an asset on offense, as well.
KhaDarel Hodge’s hands
One of the more consequential moments in Atlanta’s loss came courtesy of wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge’s hands — or lack thereof in this instance. drops the screen pass. The Falcons had a promising match-up on the screen attempt, with safety Antoine Winfield blitzing and leaving Hodge, his intended receiver, with two blockers against two defenders.
KhaDarel could not secure the football, leaving the Falcons to attempt a a 52-yard field goal. The try failed.
Should Hodge have been able to find the handle, he had clear daylight ahead of him. It cost Atlanta a potential touchdown when they certainly could have used one. Sure, Hodge was able to snare quarterback Marcus Mariota’s pass for a two-point conversion, but his inability to reel in the screen pass was a turning point in the game, for sure.
Ridder Time. Can likely do just as Mariota can, and likely better.
Boger’s bonkers call
As much as most of this game may have wanted to make you carbonize your eyeballs, no moment stood out as much as referee Jerome Boger’s abysmal roughing-the-passer call against Grady Jarrett in the fourth quarter. After cleanly taking Tom Brady to the ground for a sack that would have given life to Atlanta’s comeback opportunity.
Watching the replay, Jarrett seemed to avoid what would have been worse punishment on Brady by rolling alongside of him instead of putting the entirety of his weight on the quarterback.
These types of calls that directly impact game outcomes are what are beyond frustrating to players, coaches, and fans. It was eerily reminicient of the non-call DPI against Richard Sherman in 2016 when he blatantly pulled Julio Jones down.
The NFL loves to tout its dedication to game integrity. It should start with its officiating.