Another given Sunday, another wasted Falcons chance

An early Christmas gift: This was called roughing the passer. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

An early Christmas gift: This was called roughing the passer. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

An early Christmas gift: This was called roughing the passer. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

These short takes are presented as a companion to the Falcons-Steelers game column, which deals with Matt Ryan and can be found on myajc. The Steelers won 27-20.

1. By Falcons’ standards, they played something close to shutdown defense. The dashing Steelers scored only 27 points, and only once this season had they won a game with fewer. Their offense managed two touchdowns. Le’Veon Bell, who had rushed for 485 yards the past three games, mustered 47 on 20 carries Sunday. Antonio Brown, who had 11 receiving touchdowns in 13 games, didn’t score against the NFL’s worst defense. (Heck, the Steelers were outgained 407 yards to 398.) But William Gay’s touchdown off a Ryan interception on the first play of the second quarter changed the game, and the Falcons, who were without Julio Jones, couldn’t score enough to override a 13-0 deficit.

2. Even without Jones, the passing game was pretty spiffy — up to a point. Gay’s interception was another in the series of inexplicable throws that have blotched Ryan’s season. The quarterback did get good mileage from his remaining wideouts: Harry Douglas caught 10 passes for 131 yards; Roddy White caught seven for 58, and Devin Hester five for 85. Where the Falcons missed Jones was near the goal line. They reached the Pittsburgh 16 on the first series of the second and the 1 on the second but were relegated to field goals. Minus their big receiver, the fade was rendered inoperative.

3. For those who believe the Falcons never get a break from the refs, they got one Sunday. Midway through the second quarter, Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds blitzed past backup tight end Bear Pascoe and leveled Ryan — the verb is applicable — with what appeared a textbook hit, which would have brought third-and-19. But no. Roughing the passer was called, which seemed curious given that Ryan never delivered the ball. Replay indicated that Worilds didn’t lead with his helmet or make helmet-to-helmet contact, so it didn’t appear to be unnecessary roughness, either. The penalty gave the Falcons a first down at the Pittsburgh 21. They scored a touchdown to make 13-7 three plays later.

Reader Comments 0

115 comments
mark513
mark513

For those bashing Ryan, he has made to many mistakes this year and but did you see what Rodgers numbers looked like yesterday and he is playing on a much better team than Ryan. Ryan is the only reason why we are in ball games, I can only imagine the last 7 years with out Ryan and the defense we have run out there and the record would look a lot worse. Also the offensive line is average at best and below average much of the year. Ryan is not the problem, he is part of the solution. 

mark513
mark513

We have been flawed on defense for 30 plus years since late 70s and early 80's, we have had some talent since then Deion, Brian Jordan, Chuck Smith to name a select few. Chuck Smith once came out during the June Jones debacle and said it does not matter how many points you score if you do not have any defense and statement is true today. Matt, Julio, Roddy are very capable of producing winning seasons and getting into the playoffs but unless we build a championship defense they will never have the chance to win it all nor get back to winning seasons. This defense needs to be rebuilt, they played great yesterday for that unit and where lucky to hold the Steelers to 20 points. Smith was hired in large part because of his defensive back ground and Dimitroff was hired away from an organization that builds good to great defenses and both have failed miserably at that side of the ball. Even when winning we never had a good defense much less a great one. We spent 25 million dollars this year to be better at stopping the run and have failed miserably at that. Our in house talent can not generate a pass rush, it is time to fire everyone and start over. It is going to take at least 2 to 3 years with the right hire to build a good defense, here is hoping Blank is the right owner to do this because so far he has not proven it.

RangeRover
RangeRover

I agree that they have possibly--nah, make that definitely--the least talented personnel on defense and the OL in the NFL, and, along with Oakland, the least talented overall roster in the NFL.  I also agree that it's probably time to end the Mike Smith era and most definitely time to end the architect of this talentless bunch, Birdhair Dimitroff.

However...

Like me, every last one of you--including you, JSS--will be tuned in next Sunday against the Saints hopingh the Falcons can pull out the victory setting up a great final home game adjacent the Panthers and their mental-midget QB.

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

@RangeRover No, JSS won't be hoping for a victory.  He'll pick apart everything, even our training staff.  

RangeRover
RangeRover

@PalmBeachFalcon

Despite what he portrays, he was once a season ticket holder and obviously a fan.  I won't get into why he left (let's not go there, JSS!), but deep inside I believe he still cares.  

One has to have feelings in order for one to have resentment.

He'll be watching...and pulling for the Falcons.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

The team seems to just have this sense of inevitability that they are going to lose.  Fourth qtr, they are behind, clock is ticking, they stand, mainly sit, on the sidelines with their arms crossed, looking like "well nothing we can do now, just tick, tick, tick, it will be over soon".  Meanwhile Smith never uncrosses his arms or acts in any way apprehensive or urgent.


I'm guessing this is the "professional" approach, and I'm just a college fan.  I sure like enthusiasm and signs of reckless desperation.




gmaye
gmaye

Loserville, Loserville, Braves,Falcons, Hawks, Bulldogs, Tech,  Local High School,  Mark Bradley AJC sportswriters continue their love affairs with these losers and thats why changes are never made.

Peachs
Peachs

I saw the illegal procedure and agree, I also think the head shot was a little closer than the description given, against a team like the Steelers you probably throw the flag for several nasty shots you missed, like my dad spanking me for some of the things he knew I did and just didn’t find out about.

That aside the Falcon have a very unproductive running game. It is so predictable, you look over and see Smith arms cross, nervous twitches all over his face and you know what is coming.

BluebirdWings
BluebirdWings

@Peachs It's Smittyball!!

Smittyball will always stand for passive, unimaginative, grind-it-out, sit-on-a-lead, predictable, vanilla, staid, pacifist, mind-numbing, dull football. Not something to be proud of, certainly not something to use as your core offensive philosophy. Smittyball might win a lot of regular season games in a league mired in the mediocrity of self-enforced parity, but it is not something you’re going to ever see winning any Super Bowl trophies now or in the future.

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

Officials also blew an illegal procedure penalty ton Pitts 4th down conversion to Miller.  The LG clearly moved before the snap.

Sloan
Sloan

Was at the game and the Falcons were only in it because of the bogus roughing the passer call that led to the Falcons first TD.

Peachs
Peachs

@Sloan what is the worst record ever by a team making the play offs?  Normally by now we have started watching basketball.  This is a freaky year and a trick by the NFL to have us watch this crap when we could be doing something fun!

FalconUGAFan
FalconUGAFan

@RogerBurke  I'm no Smitty "homer" but TD is just as culpable. I hope he is gone too. Time for some new blood all around. My spidey sense tells me he and McKay will stay and Smitty will be the scape goat.

Peachs
Peachs

@RogerBurke at the end of the game I just turn it off, I know we haven't got a pray of coming back with him coaching.  I can't handle his clock management it is like watching waterboarding on someone you know.

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

As a leader Matt Ryan tells the Media what the Falcons need to do to win. Now almost every game he throws a crucial interception. I get it, I know quarterbacks throw picks, but when you throw one every game it's a problem. I like him to play mistake free football. That's seems almost impossible.

miked91
miked91

M.Ryan is just terrible.

traderjoe9
traderjoe9

I'm just shocked that we are no longer in 1st place. Oh well, TD will trade up and get us 1 more decent player...that's all we need right?

terry789
terry789

Was at the game today. Why are they wasting money on a new dome? THe Congress has to threaten NFL with removing antitrust exemption if they continue to structure the revenue sharing so selectively that local teams get to profit off of taxpayer largesse. Turner Field and Georgia Dome are in perfectly fine shape. Welfare for billionaires. You know what stinks about Georgia Dome? The obnoxious pumping of sound effects and other audio superloud 90% of the time. They have this obnoxious sound effect even after the team kicks off. Shouldn't they cut the music once a football play starts? It is bad enough domes suck for football atmosphere. They have to kill it further by marginalizing all football related sound with the artificial atmosphere of sound effects non stop? Or is it to make up for the lack of a home crowd?

traderjoe9
traderjoe9

@terry789  Terry, we stopped going to the games a few years ago because of the obnoxious sound effects and acoustics at the Dome, not to mention the primitive and threatening behavior of some of the fans. We were a bit too close to one too many fights/threatening behavior. I'm much happier watching from home these days. However, we still go to college games where the atmosphere is more real and less contrived and the fans are better behaved.

spike55
spike55

@traderjoe9 @terry789 Oh please.  College fans are better behaved than Falcon fans??  You're obviously making stuff up. Now I'd think differently if we were in Philly or Oakland.

spike55
spike55

@terry789 While I agree with your statement about the Dome and Turner Field being in good shape (especially Turner),  Blank is footing most of the bill for the new stadium. The bulk of the rest will come from visitors. And it will be open air when the weather is good.  It will also host a lot more than Falcon games.  

Now the new Braves stadium is gonna be a disaster parking wise.

terry789
terry789

@traderjoe9 @terry789  The fans- both Steelres and Falcons fans- were well behaved. My only problem is with the sound. I will say that Samuel Jackson's Rise Up is a brilliant promo because that singlehandedly inspired the few Falcons fans to truly rise up and cheer. Lli Jon's Turn Down for What is a good punctuation , if used judiciously. But man oh man, they were overplaying this. Same with the other sound.  I thought NHL and NBA games were bad with the sound. Georgia Dome with the Falcons is just as bad.


I will say the dome is very convenient to MARTA. Right outside. But MARTA needs to increase the trains even more during the game time.

terry789
terry789

The game wasn't that close at the very end. It would have been if Falcons didn't punt at the end or if they got a stop on the Steelers. but let's face it. Steelers were in FG range with nearly 2 min left. If they didn't want to kill time, they could have scored a FG to make it 30-20.

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

The Falcons are not good enough to win "by the book."  They have to be bold, daring, unconventional gamblers in order to win with their current talent situation. 


Yes. A very strong team would go by the book and punt the ball away on fourth and two in in the fourth quarter,while in its own territory with five plus minutes on the clock. There would be a reasonable chance, with three time outs left and the two minute warning, for a strong and consistent team to get the ball down the field and tie the game. 


But the Falcons are not "a very strong team."  They are a "just okay" team with inconsistent talent that can play well at times and just plain awful at other times, e.g. they were first and one at the two yard line at one point and had to kick a field goal.  In all of their games so far, that inconsistency has cost them games. Smith does not seem to know or understand that some how. 


When they kicked the ball away to Pittsburgh on fourth and two, with five minutes to go, the game ended. What gambler in Vegas would not have made a huge bet that the second that happened, the game would be over.  And what's more, Pittsburgh leads the league in time of possession. Atlanta cannot play by the book. They have to be bold and crazy risk takers, hoping that in making those kinds of plays, they will be consistent. That is the only way they are going to win. 


This is so much like watching the Braves stumble around last season with Gonzalez making making one dumb decision after another,  it is downright depressing.  

DforDawgs
DforDawgs

We just need to clean house. Look at Nebraska (I know college) the guy was 9-3 and they said that is not the kind of program they run and they fired him,..we need to think like that.

itsslomotionbaby
itsslomotionbaby

I don't fault ryan for the interception but man pick six is beginning to stick it looks like the cb just knew the route & jumped it.but I do have a beef with him about the last series with 6 minutes left you need 5 yrds so what are you doing throwing before the sticks this is where ryan supposed to take over.

falcons the next time you scout a QB sense you eventually aregoing topay him more than anybody on the team make sure he is one of the best atheletes on the team !. make sure he can run for a first down 2. can throw on the run3. has a cannon for an arm.having intangibles just doesn't cut it.

it doesn't surprise me that ryans name is never brought up amongst yhe elite QB or a QB thatyou would fear facing Rodney Harrison has just said I don't trust matt ryan, he was also theone that said " ive seen this guy in practice, he has a weak arm". what does that tell you?

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

Proud of the Falcons efforts the past 2 weeks against far superior rosters! It's embarrassing the Steelers had more fans than the Falcons.

Thomas Dimitroff galavanted with pink shirt in the press box, his nose so far up Arthur Blank's fanny he had to come up for air a couple of times! That's where this team is now.

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

This team needs to be broken down to the roots and then rebuilt. Neither the current architect nor contractor need apply for the next build. We've seen the best of what they can do and its not great. Matt Ryan should not be part of this teams next competitive cycle (3-5 years out) and I hope the next GM has the stones to cut him now and his losses. Ryan was the right guy for the job following Vick but Falcons made a huge mistake in signing him to that huge contract last year. Simply said, he's a serviceable QB but not the difference maker $20M/year should get you.

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

@GeorgeJetsen Wrong.  He's a franchise cornerstone.  The word "ELITE" is thrown about all the time.  Ryan is NOT a top 5 QB, but he is top 10.

Wilbo
Wilbo

Falcons played okay, but lost the game primarily because of a couple of mindless/needless quarterback booboos. Sums up the Falcons last several years, doesn't it?


crackbaby
crackbaby

shutdown defense?  "something close"?  Ask the plethora of Steelers fans in the building if they saw anything resembling shutdown defense from the Birds.  Doubtful...

Zapp
Zapp

It's becoming more apparent the Falcons management must clean house.  They have a head coach without balls to take a chance when the game is on the line.  The offensive play calling the last two years has often border lined on schizophrenic, and the defensive coordinator is not even an average coach by NFL standards.  The only question I have is whether the owner will keep the man that created this mess.

The Rickster
The Rickster

Really, all you that are doggin out the Falcons, after all they've done over the 5 years prior to last year. Injuries, bad drafts, etc, happen. Most of you commenters are just following what the media is spewing out there, not even coming up with your own opinions. The Falcons will win the division this year and will make an impact in the playoffs.  Ye of little faith.

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

@JSSN @buellerbuellerbueller @The Rickster Rickster, you ARE on point with some posters just regurgitating what they hear from the media.  Falcons control their destiny and with the way NO is playing at home, winning the division is a distinct possibility.  South winner MAY play the Cardinals in the first round.  Who knows???

NO MAS
NO MAS

The defense is horrid, but it is what we expected it to be.


In the 4th quarter today, the defense got a stop - did the offense capitalize? No! With our offense, a defensive stop MUST be accompanied by offensive points. 


The Falcon's are supposed to have a great offense, but where is it? The Falcons scored 20 points today - we're not winning with that. 

RickDDay
RickDDay

@NO MAS the defense is not horrid. it just lacks a stud rusher. Things happen when you pressure a QB that don't happen with Falcon's opponent QBs the past few years. We are two players away from having an above average defense because without a pass rush, it's always a long day for the D

buellerbuellerbueller
buellerbuellerbueller

At least we are not the Cleveland Browns.   Falcons still with an 85/1 chance to win the Superbowl.  Beat the $&^%&^$ out of the Saints!

RickDDay
RickDDay

@DawgNole @buellerbuellerbueller No they didn't. Coach Smith's lack of awareness turned it from a W to an L. We had them beat. I would give the players on the team a mulligan on that one.