The Falcons didn’t win, but they made one guy believe (me)

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, right, and Earl Thomas (obscured) break up a pass intended for Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016, in Seattle. The Seahawks beat the Falcons 26-24. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

No harm, no foul? (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

SEATTLE — I’m not a fan of moral victories in pro sports, but today I make an exception. The Atlanta Falcons gave a winning effort and, had an official called what seemed a blatant case of GPI — grievous pass interference — on the famous Richard Sherman against the famous Julio Jones with 90 seconds remaining, they’d have been positioned to steal a road game in a difficult stadium.

Only it wouldn’t have been stealing. The Falcons deserved this one every bit as much as the Seahawks did. They overrode a 17-3 deficit. They stayed ahead on Ra’Shede Hageman’s block of what should have been the tying extra point. They were driving to put the game to bed when Jones, of all people, couldn’t hold a slant pass from Matt Ryan and saw the ball deflected by Sherman and intercepted by Earl Thomas. That led to Hauschka’s winning field goal, which mightn’t have held up had Sherman been flagged for pinning Jones’ arm on fourth-and-10.

Were this a playoff game, only a ruthless bottom line would exist. But if you’re the Falcons and you haven’t had a winning season since 2012 — the year you beat the burgeoning Seahawks in a last-gasp postseason finish — you have to feel good about yourselves and your effort here. You’d won in Denver and stayed on the road for 10 days and, when it was 17-3, you might have taken your Western split and called it a day. Instead you came within an eyelash of winning.

I’m on record as doubting the direction of this team, but here I confess: The effort here made a believer of me in a way that nothing before — not last week’s victory over the Broncos, not the thrashing of Carolina — has. Last year’s Falcons would have been blown off this field. This year’s Birds nearly ran off victorious.

Said Dan Quinn, the coach: “I like what our team identity is becoming, where we can attack in all three phases. It’s growing stronger … I so desperately wanted it to happen last year, but it didn’t.”

But something is happening now. The Falcons aren’t great on defense, but they’re not the world’s worst. Their offense is about the world’s best. (And by that we mean Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Go figure, huh?) The Falcons outgained Seattle, owner of the NFL’s No. 1 defense, 252  yards to 27 in the third quarter, scoring on drives of 75, 79 and 97 yards.)

At halftime, I figured the third quarter would tell the tale on these Falcons. It nearly left with a stunning and stellar victory. That it didn’t quite in no way invalidates what happened. The Seahawks have long had reason to believe in themselves. The Falcons are just now starting to believe. And so am I.

Further reading: The Falcons got jobbed but did themselves proud.

Reader Comments 0

48 comments
Katzenjammer
Katzenjammer

A heritage of winning makes a difference. Whereas Seattle heritage is not as long as say the Packers or Steelers, it is there. The Falcons have never had it so you really knew they would find a way to lose a game that a championship caliper team wouldn't.

DMac57
DMac57

Maybe we could start a support group for Falcon's fans to help them give up their self-destructive behavior of supporting a franchise that has done nothing but disappoint them for 50 years... No, they're still too far in denial want to seek help.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

I am boycotting the NFL over disrespect for the flag.


That being said, if I HAD watched, there is no doubt that pass interference should have been called. If I had watched it would have been obvious that Sherman had his arm.


I also would have felt that despite taking the loss, the Falcons have gone toe-to-toe with two of the NFL's finest in the last 2 weeks, and have earned respect around the league.


It is plain to see that this is NOT last year's Falcons (if I had been watching).

TideDawg
TideDawg

One of my older football fans told me that years ago the refs would stop play until the fans quieted down. He said the QB would hold up his hands to the ref because the team couldn't hear the signals and the ref would stop play until they could hear.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TideDawg

True that.

Not that I'm admitting to being one of them "older football fans."

TOJacket
TOJacket

Wish you'd act like an "older" fan.

DMac57
DMac57

Oh my God! SomewherenSGa's post explains it all. If you don't know the difference between "there" and "their" and don't know the difference between "on" and "own," then you may indeed be dumb enough to be a Falcon's fan

DawgNole
DawgNole

@DMac57

If you post the same thing twice, you're dumber than a Falcons fan.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@DMac57 It would really please  many on this blog if you would go to one of the downtown bars and make those comments to the local patrons. Some may be illiterate but they're good at teaching manners.

TOJacket
TOJacket

If you're petty enough to be a grammar policeman on a sports blog then you could be a Nancy-boy like DawgMole.

DawgNole
DawgNole

When your favorite team has never in its half-century existence won a championship, inexcusable non-calls like yesterday's are just that much more difficult to swallow.

SomewherenSGa
SomewherenSGa

Falcons are coming into there on week after week even in a loss


Kelvin59
Kelvin59

As a long time Falcons fan I was so proud of my team yesterday. We had a chance to win that game, but couldn't make the critical play when we needed it most. Nonetheless, the defense is coming together and if that side of the ball continues to improve this could be a special year for Falcons fans. I wish we had someone else to return punts besides Eric Weems, he is killing us. A lot of the pundits said let's see what Atlanta does against Seattle before becoming believer. Atlanta didn't win the game, but they proved they could go into one of the NFL's toughest environments with a raucous crowd and the NFL #1 defense and almost pull out a victory. That should make you a believer. 

DMac57
DMac57

BULLCRAP Bradley!!!  The Falcons have been finding new ways to disappoint their fans for 50 YEARS!!!  Anyone who supports this franchise must be mentally ill.

TideDawg
TideDawg

The Falcons lost on a tipped pass, not a no call. I'd say they played Seattle even other than that. Seattle is a playoff quality team and I think the Falcons are a playoff quality team. We'll see!

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TideDawg

That early fumble by Ryan that was converted--on the very next play--to the game's first TD ended up being the difference.

TOJacket
TOJacket

Well that's not Matts fault.

SouthernHope5
SouthernHope5

I'm having a hard time shaking off the ref call at the end of the game...it's been a long time since I've seen something that obvious being missed.


On top of that, the Seattle fans are truly irritating...so the idea is to make the stadium so loud that players can't hear the calls and play football.  Nice sportsmanship.


but putting that aside, I thought the Falcons looked  solid and put together...for the first time this year, I felt I was watching a team heading for the playoffs. 

JimmyFalcon
JimmyFalcon

@SouthernHope5  I like that Seattle fans create an advantage.  Fans in Atlanta drive me crazy who spend all game checking their phones for fantasy football stats or sit there quietly giving dirty looks to people who stand up and get in their way because they are too lazy to stand up and make noise on defense .  That's part of building a home field advantage.  Stop hurting the team by being quiet, watch it on TV and leave your seat for someone who wants to try to impact the game if you aren't willing to.

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve

@SouthernHope5 LOL come on you can't blame a fanbase for reaping the benefits of home-field advantage. The no-call was tough, but still.

TOJacket
TOJacket

Atlanta is full of Yankee transplants! Have you been to a Falcon - Chicago, or Pittsburgh game? Very high volume of opponent fans. He!! Nobody is going to Seattle to live and prosper.

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve

Positive loss. Defense really starting to come together which I like, but that pass rush is still nowhere to be found for the most part. I'd love to see us make a move for a guy who can get more interior rush. I love Grady Jarrett but he's still maybe some time away from being a game-wrecker. Deion Jones is impressive, Neal is (very) impressive, and I think a healthy Campbell will impress me too. I like Brian Poole, and that hybrid role is GREAT for Ishamel.


That said, make no mistake that we lost. That was PI, but not why we lost the game. I'd have trusted our backs more in that previous drive, but I don't HATE the play-call. Fact is, 99 times out of 100 Julio catches a ball that hits him int he hands -- yesterday was that 1 time. Even worse that it got tipped and intercepted. Hell, I would even feel confident if we had punted it away.


Hate to lose a game we could have won, but on balance this team certainly looks like a contender in a less-than-stellar NFC.

MangoWalker
MangoWalker

 The degree of illiteracy and whining here is astounding,  but I guess that's typical for the South.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@MangoWalker Uh huh!You must be from Michigan....the rudest people I've ever met. And you felt the need to discredit the South. That's OK, you're welcome here......but be careful going out after dark. One of those illiterates  may have a problem recognizing a man/woman/transgender of your class.

TOJacket
TOJacket

Mango?......lol........you sound like a real tough guy?

FalconsFan#1
FalconsFan#1

The hustle and no-quit of our team speak volumes to DQ's philosophy of next man up and the focus on the next play.


Today's game is the next hurdle for the players to learn more about themselves and their belief that they can play with anyone, under any circumstances.


BTW - when are the network going to provide their A Team announcers?  For me,  I grieve while listening to these ex-players provide consistent excuses to the opposing teams; Denver has no quarterback, Wilson has a knee, brace, etc.  Of course, Rhonde Barber is an ex-Buc and has not yet learned objectivity.


One last thing - the officials should have called many late hit penalties while Matty Ice was being pummeled long after throwing the ball.  Just Sayin!


R/

colt07
colt07

Been watching Falcons since 60's and have pulled for them always. Hope they can overcome. The Falcon's biggest game of the year is this Sunday against Chargers. This is a game we should win without a problem. We have a rep for not following thru. Hopefully we have turned the corner. Only time will tell.

Peachs
Peachs

The announcers has sold out to Seattle, the refs apparently had, and we still almost won after a horrible first half.  Mack is the difference, he opens up the running game, which allows the play action passing.  Pray he doesn't get hurt. 

Bug
Bug

Arizona is laying in wait for Seattle next Sunday. Do yourself a favor lay AZ an give the 1-1/2 points. it is a gift. 

gt51
gt51

horrible officiating all sunday.  the carolina saints game was a horrific game by the officials.  so many bad calls.  the td catch by fleener that wasn't called a catch.  fleener was on the ground for a full 2 seconds with kueckly trying to swat the ball away.  so many pass interference calls 

Peachs
Peachs

@gt51 and then no call when sullen Sherman burns Georgia. 

LOGS1973
LOGS1973

Good to see Bradley is in! He now believes in the Falcons

and the Jackets, Atlanta's teams!! Stellar..

DawgNole
DawgNole

@LOGS1973

Another loss or two by either team oughta straighten that out.

FineousMcDirtyBird
FineousMcDirtyBird

Future ACTUAL Mark Bradley article headline "Sure, They Won The Super Bowl, But Other Teams Did It Better"

There's climate deniers and Matt Ryan deniers. Willing to bet that MB is both because he's incapable of looking at overwhelming statistical evidence.

I'm done commenting on this guys idiotic come-to-Jesus moments. If he'd payed two minutes of his time over the last nine years to actually watching the Falcons play, this moment would not be surprising at all.

You should probably be writing in the Metro section, Mark, where MARTA schedules and delays are much less confusing than sports and the people who play them.

Mitch !
Mitch !

You mean.climate science that has been exaggerated to push narratives. A scientist cannot put forward evidence against climate change, extreme weather, or global warming (whatever you want to call it today) without being shunned by his community. Idiotic regulations are causing loss of employment, loss of innovation, loss of energy independence in the United States while China, India, Russia could care less. Only a liberal would think they can regulate temperature.

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

There's only one reason why the Falcons don't get their props, when they certainly deserve them especially this year is-- because they don't have a history of winning.

FineousMcDirtyBird
FineousMcDirtyBird

Neither did the Patriots prior to 2001. Neither did Tampa prior to 2002. You get a rep by doing, enough with the friggin history.

FineousMcDirtyBird
FineousMcDirtyBird

Jesus. How can you get it wrong EVERY. FREAKIN.TIME. MARK. So to slowly explain it to you, as you are certain that teams "deserve" to win games they don't, the Falcons only played one quarter out of FOUR in this game. That horrid non-call on Sherman? Had nothing to do with why the Falcons were trailing at that point in the game. Get it, for once (because presumedly you have been at least watching sports at various times over the course of your life) that everything preceding the last thing that happens in a game matters.

The Falcons were not prepared to play this game in the first half. Made zero adjustments until halftime. And did nothing in the fourth quarter to seal a win (that they didn't deserve).

I'm all about taking this game as a solid road loss against a legitimate NFL team. We acquitted ourselves well. But if it took this game for you to become a believer? Get off of my bandwagon, please. You do not belong.

By the way, any word on the intern that could take over your column? Because your prose is killing me.

David McCallum
David McCallum

@FineousMcDirtyBird Whether they were prepared to play the first half or not is irrelevant. What is relevant is that it was game when it mattered most. Whether the pass interference call was legit, I think we all know if that was Alford who was involved in a play like that a call could have been made. The bottom line is that MR had to make a better pass than he did. There is a reason why that team has been good in that stadium. While they are a very good team; they also have caught a lot of breaks in that building; most they created for themselves by simply being around the ball.

tyger
tyger

Agreed. It was a good showing...


Beat Denver. Took Seattle to the wire...

O-line showed some leakage today...

Teams know to target Ryan...

So they gotta fix that up...


Seattle a Super Bowl contender...

No win, but Falcons passed the test...

Defense not stellar, but only gave 26 pts...

Minus late INT, that's only 23pts....


Factor ATL's offensive prowess...

They won't face NFL #1 defense again...

And their odds improve exponentially...

David McCallum
David McCallum

@tyger If this team ever figure it out defensively, they are going to be something else.

Zeke M.
Zeke M.

Show me the Superbowl trophy. Until then, all we can do is speculate.