Weak Loss – Falcons Throw Game to Panthers

Terrible Miscues Cost Birds

Game Tossed Away (David T. Foster III, Charlotte Observer)

The Falcons blew a big opportunity in many ways by blowing some momentous chances in the final minutes in Charlotte. This game had trap written all over it and the Falcons really have no one to blame but themselves, couple of players in particular, if this one decides a playoff berth down the road. But if they play like they did today, it won’t matter anyway. Tons of badness to go around, but the Falcons worked and pried themselves right back into the game, just to literally throw it away at the end. Jason Elam missed an easy chip shot go-ahead field goal and Matt Ryan made one of the worst decisions all year, possibly of any game, by throwing a terrible pass that was way too high to Michael Jenkins. Football is a team game, but those two plays pretty much sealed the loss. The Falcons are now going to have to fight like mad to get some wins down the stretch of the second half. The Falcons let a very proud Carolina team get into rhythm early and blew some big chances down the stretch. With a New York Giants team coming off a bye, they better get to work or a look at a .500 record will become a reality.

Seven Storylines in the Falcons Loss

 

1) Does Ryan Shoulder the Loss Alone?

Terrible Game Ending INT (David T. Foster III, Charlotte Observer)

Regardless of play-calling, receivers, or whatever the second year quarterback gave the game away with a really bad throw and an even worse decision. He had yet another really bad first half where he looked uncomfortable, shaky, and under-confident in the backfield. His throws were errant and he seemed to look to throw the ball away way too quickly again. He had a whopping 48 yards passing in the first half and who knows what the play-calling is, but Ryan deserves pretty much all the blame for the first half. His throws were high all day and he again locked onto receivers. To his credit, he came out in the second half and played really well, looking crisp and authoritative on his passes. He found his other receivers again in getting Roddy White involved and had many clutch throws throughout the comeback that they appeared to be mounting. After the defense got a big stop and Eric Weems had a big return, Ryan’s first play from scrimmage was a high throw to Michael Jenkins in double coverage that sailed over Michael Jenkins head right into the arms of CB Richard Marshall. Many fans knew what was coming next: a 45 yard touchdown by Jonathan Stewart to end the game. Granted Jason Elam should have made the field goal that puts the Falcons ahead 22-21, but Ryan’s decision and throw ended any comeback hopes and just didn’t need to happen and have Ryan try to win the game. Ryan likely will get there, but that seems a lot more uncertain than in the past. There’s a reason for such a cliché as a “QB Sophomore Slump”. Time for Ryan to regroup.

2) Is Jason Elam Officially Done?

After being so automatic last year, Jason Elam is a complete liability this year. The Falcons had some good mojo going and missed on a 3rd and 1, which brought Mike Smith’s decision to play it safe and take the points and the lead late in the game……….so he thought anyway. The kick looked bad from the start with Elam stutter stepping before the snap and the kick was even worse. The kick wasn’t even close. Very true that the snap and timing could have been bad, but that makes four pretty easy field goals he’s missed already and at some really bad times to boot. It’s likely time to start looking elsewhere for the future at kicker, maybe not this year, but Elam is 39 years old. The field goal continues the trend of the Falcons making some bad plays at inopportune times that turned the whole game.

3) How Bad is Michael Turner Hurt?

Falcons running back Michael Turner had 111 yards on just nine carries before leaving the game. His third straight game with 100 or more yards. Falcons fans certainly had a big gasp when Turner was taken out of the game and possibly even worse when news came back that it’s a high ankle sprain. Those injuries are know to linger and the last thing the Birds can afford is to lose their best player, especially of late. The injury to Turner adds to yet another one to an already injury-filled year. The team got really lucky with escaping the injury bug last year and it has bitten in full force this year. Turner was again scalding, with over 100 yards rushing in the first half alone before the injury. Jason Snelling came in relief and ran tough, hard, and quick in Turner’s absence. After cutting Aaron Stecker, the Falcons are down to two backs in Jason Snelling and Ovie Mughelli. The Falcons continue to fight against adversity with an injury-plagued year, but the great teams figure out ways to win, regardless who’s on or off the field.

4) Receivers: There’s Roddy and………………..

Considered to be one of the biggest strengths of the team, the Falcons wide receiving corps is proving to be paper thin after Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. Michael Jenkins is having a poor year after dropping many catchable balls throughout the year, including the game against he Panthers. With the loss of Harry Douglas, there has been absolutely no receiver that has taken on the role of slot and proven to be of no threat at all. Marty Booker was thought to have some gas left and Eric Weems speed was thought to translate into a must benefit in the passing game. Neither has taken the reigns. The rave before the season was the supposed inability of defenses to shut down so many weapons, but they’re doing a pretty good job of doing it. With the relative age and injury to Finneran, it appears time for the Falcons to look at wide receiver in the draft or free agency. Playing 20/20 hindsight, sure would be nice to have Laurent Robinson on the roster about now, especially since he’s starting for the Rams.

5) Where’d the Pass Rush Go?

After having a huge day against the Redskins, the defensive line and linebackers went AWOL yet again in getting any pressure on Jake Delhomme. The Panthers QB is a very rhythmic passer and the Falcons let him settle into a rhythm and find Muhammed and old reliable Steve Smith. The defense produced no sacks on Delhomme all day and rarely even rushed him into throws. All-Pro left tackle Jordan Gross went down with an injury and they Falcons still couldn’t muster much of a rush. Abraham must be hurt or something because he certainly is not what he was last year. Are Sidbury and Biermann the future at defensive ends, or do the Falcons need to look via the draft or free agency? The defensive tackles look pretty deep assuming the healthy return of Peria Jerry, but it sure wouldn’t hurt to have another big body at DT.

6) Did Tye Hill Get the Hook?

The talk of Tye Hill possibly being a long term answer at cornerback got a douse of cold water today when he was seemingly benched in favor of Brent Grimes after getting picked on over and over by Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammed throughout the first half. Chevis Jackson didn’t make many plays, but Chris Houston did have a pretty good game in keeping Smith in check for the most part, particularly in the second half. Tye Hill’s possible benching illuminates once again the ridiculously thin talent at cornerback. The loss of Brian Williams was a huge blow the Falcons could ill afford and Hill may not be the answer after all.

7) Still Hope or is Window Closing This Year?

Fans have a hard time realizing that their team’s year may not be in the cards, but after a loss to a less than stellar Panther team and big games on the horizon, is it time to reassess expectations for the year? The Falcons have had some seriously bad luck on the injury front: Harry Douglas, Brian Williams, Peria Jerry, William Moore, Jerious Norwood, Brian Finneran, Sam Baker, and now Michael Turner. They have gotten absolutely no help or impact from their draft picks this year, and they have one of the hardest schedules in the league this year. They have a tough trip to play the Giants after a week of rest, host the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints, and have a late trip to play the Jets in New York late in December. Tampa Bay is also playing much better and they weren’t locks once thought to be. The former Rookie of the Year is in a serious slump and holes are still abound throughout the defense. After losing a game that you’re supposed to win, its hard to imagine this team approaching greatness in terms of a deep playoff run. The Falcons can get hot at any time and could go on a serious run, but the window will be soon closing if the losses keep piling up. The next month will decide many teams playoff fates, but that is particularly true with the Falcons playing the Giants, Bucs, Eagles, and Saints. The Falcons will have to at least go 2-2 in that stretch and really 3-1 to have a serious chance at the playoffs. The Falcons control their own destiny, but will obviously have to improve to get in.

Many fans reasonably expected this team to go through some growing pains with a tougher schedule, an inexperienced defense, and a young quarterback. The beginning of the season dictated that the games with Carolina would be tough fights, but after the Panthers early tumbles, this was one that the Falcons should win. The Falcons have been anything but consistent this year and have endured some tough losses, but this one will sting for quite some time. A game that by all accounts should have been won, but was given away at the end. A missed field goal and a really terrible interception with less than 5 minutes left in the game will not win many games, chiefly rivalry games. Its easy to forget that the Panthers were 12-4 and the second seed in the NFC last year, but the Falcons have got to win these types of games to even be considered on the next level. As it stands, the Birds are still right in the mix of the wild card picture with the Giants (5-4), the Eagles (5-4), and Packers (5-4), but if we play like we did today the point will be irrelevant. The Giants game in the Meadowlands just got a whole lot bigger next week.

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Your Turn

-Very Disappointed, Really Upset, or Still Positive?

-Should’ve Won or Panthers Just Better Today?

-Official Panic Mode for Ryan or Just Sophomore Bumps?

-If Turner’s Out For a Long Time, Are We Done?

-Is it Time to Draft Another WR?

-Will Elam be our Kicker Next Year?

-How Bad are our Cornerbacks?

-Simply Put: Will We Make the Playoffs?

-Predict our Record from Here on Out

-What’s the Deal with John Abraham?

-Are the Falcons in Serious Trouble?

Your Expectation for Rest of Season?

View Results

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366 comments Add your comment

Shawty

November 15th, 2009
8:30 pm

Great new post! Terrible loss…

Shawty

November 15th, 2009
8:33 pm

The missed FG took the wind out of the sails…

WR

November 15th, 2009
8:42 pm

Shawty, what do you do, hang out waiting for D3 to put up a new post, you know stalking is illegal in Ga,LOL.

D3, nice post as usual, this one hurt,literally it hurt the Falcons, but looking for the silver lining maybe the team wakes up and realizes its not that good. On paper they should be at least a super bowl contender, on the field just trying to break the 43 year old drought is not exactly promised. Sometimes I wonder did the birds get caught up in the hype, other times I wonder did the coaches. Whatever it is, I hope they figure it out soon, I can take lossing but at least lose giving your best and that goes for the coaches and the players. The injuries definitely don’t help, but there part of the game and not the reason for this season.

Shawty

November 15th, 2009
8:44 pm

WR, actually I had nodded off and woke up hit refresh and it said ‘new post’ that’s all – no stalking.

Shawty

November 15th, 2009
8:46 pm

WR this loss about killed me. I had to spend time alone on the deck afterwards before going to dinner with friends just to shake it off. Mainly because WE HAD THEM!!!

Howie348

November 15th, 2009
8:54 pm

You expect us to think you’re an objective source, adhering to the principles of journalistic ethics, and you end this blog post with “Go Falcons” with about a dozen exclamation points?

Dawson Devitt (D3)

November 15th, 2009
8:55 pm

Shawty – How was the Movie Tavern? Sorry couldn’t make it, lil guy was sick yet again so no-go, but I’m making our 1st Cage Meet-up come Hell or High Water!

WR – Nothing is promised in the NFL and on paper tigers don’t win Super Bowl rings. We really need Seminole’s words of “process” right about now, because that’s exactly where we are. BTW, where has our TeePee Brother been?

Bird Cage Meetup – Let’s start hammering out a place to do our first Bird Cage Meetup so we can get as many Bird Cagers as possible to attend.

Box

November 15th, 2009
8:56 pm

WR,
I agree on the hype issue. If we compare last year to this year, the offense only added one TE in #88. Was that going to win more than 11 games for us? And on defense, we cut half our starting line up, for all the right reasons, but are asking a group of really young and inexperienced players to play against some really great veterans. Abe is our only veteran on defense with any seasoning, and he seems to be injured. I think that the supposed expert sports commentators annointed our team a year or two too early.
Injuries are suffered by all teams, but we have had the lion’s share this year.
My thought on the situation.

Dawson Devitt (D3)

November 15th, 2009
8:57 pm

Howie – It’s called a FAN’s blog, remember? Oh wait, the check from the NFL Network just came in so I guess I should take down the “Go Falcons” moniker.

WR

November 15th, 2009
8:58 pm

Yes, it was devastating, I doubt anyone saw this one coming, and thats taking nothing away from the Panthers. The fox commentators said it best when they talked about the Falcons running game getting going but still nothing was opening up in the passing game. Matt Ryan is no Drew Brees but the Falcons receivers are not much worse then the Saints, hell some could argue their better outside of Colston who is not much better then White if he is at all. The Saints though, have receivers running open all day, the only thing that stops them is pressure on Brees, Ryan and the Falcons can get no pressure but you still don’t see an open receiver, thats whats killing me.

Box

November 15th, 2009
8:59 pm

Howie348,
This is a blog for Falcons fans. D3 is the moderator. He isn’t an AJC employee. He does this because he is a Falcons Fan. Sorry I took the bait, but please go fish elsewhere.

Shawty

November 15th, 2009
9:02 pm

D3, went over there and found out as of yesterday they had to clear with the NFL and could not do it this week. Why I do not understand. It is no different than a bar as they were not charging, same thing. So we came back here, good thing I had started recording. They hope to be back & running next week but we will see.

WR

November 15th, 2009
9:02 pm

Box I agree, thats probably some of Ryan’s problems, the Falcons add Gonzo and all of a sudden they are supposedly one of the best teams in the NFC and the NFL. The problem is that the games have to be played on the field not on paper, on paper the Falcons probably are sitting 7-2 right now, on the field we’re stuck with 5-4.

falcon21

November 15th, 2009
9:04 pm

As bad as the team played on O and D today we still had a chance to win. Am I disappointed? Hell yes. Am I giving up on this team? Hell no. We may or may not make the playoffs this season but this franchise is on its way up!!!

Box

November 15th, 2009
9:12 pm

D3,
Point #4. I believe our weakest link in the passing game behind Ryan’s confidence, is Jenkins. He drops too many passes. He is our number two behind Roddy. WE need to START another receiver in his spot. I believe that could juice up whoever that may be. After three drops, we have stalled three drives. We cannot live this way and win. If he is truly our second best wideout behind Roddy, them FA or draft is almost as urgent as CB. I will save draft potential discussions for the off season, it is such a long period without games.

Singletary

November 15th, 2009
9:15 pm

Unbelievable. They didn’t win; we LOST the game. I realize we have a huge number of injuries and people playing with the flu, but Elam’s kicking is really, really sinking our ship. I lay the NOLA loss and this loss at his feet. How did we lose to Dallas and have them lose to GB this week? If we are able to go 8-8, I think that will be a good outcome for the remainder of this horrific year. Guess we looked really good against the AFC & NFC West last year; not good at all against the AFC & NFC East….

Box

November 15th, 2009
9:16 pm

Falcon21,
I concur.

BigHittas

November 15th, 2009
9:16 pm

nice post 3D,

I agree with #7, time to reassess unfortunately. Injuries, the soph jinx, and boneheaded, leather-handed play by the Birds has got us on some serious ropes. I always hope for the best, but am not expecting much more this year.

Coop

November 15th, 2009
9:21 pm

D3 – Great wrtie up. I do think Laurent Robinson is on IR, but your point is well taken. Bottom line, this team is 2 years away. Comparing them to last year or worse, Ryan to Brees is fanciful. We’ve all been blinded a bit. We’ll be fine, just maybe not this year. I just want to see our team play with fire and continually improve. If we can do that, I’ll be satisfied and the wins will come.

Box

November 15th, 2009
9:22 pm

Since people call our “Back to Back” problem a curse, if we go 9-7, the curse is broken, then great things come our way in the future. I try to put a positive spin on something that really sucks.

Box

November 15th, 2009
9:24 pm

We need a Wes Welker clone.

Shawty

November 15th, 2009
9:34 pm

Box, playoffs would be great but yes breaking the curse is more important to me at least. This has got to end.

falcon21

November 15th, 2009
9:34 pm

If this franchise could have started with the type of ownership AB brings we would have never heard the word curse. We are what we are now and will soon be what many other teams want to be.

Shawty

November 15th, 2009
9:35 pm

I don’t love the Pats by any means but I can’t stand the Colts, well really Manning…

Box

November 15th, 2009
9:35 pm

Amen, brother.

Shawty

November 15th, 2009
9:36 pm

Falcon21 – totally agree.

Shawty

November 15th, 2009
9:38 pm

Although Brady is killing me in FFL right now.

Box

November 15th, 2009
9:41 pm

Falcon21,
Our ownership was back when the good old boys with money owned teams to play around with them, before it was the mega business that it is today. Rankin Smith, Sr. and the sons used the Falcons a s a big Monopoly game.

sportaree

November 15th, 2009
9:42 pm

With Turner possibly out for two to four weeks, I’m sure Thomas is digging around trying to find Steckers phone #. Is there any chance of a Larry Johnson sighting in Atlanta?

Shawty

November 15th, 2009
9:45 pm

sportaree, we will see one of the 2 shortly.

Box

November 15th, 2009
9:47 pm

sportaree,
If LJ comes, I hope it is short term unless TG gives his blessing, since they played togehter for so long. LJ might really kill a fragile clubhouse, but he may want to come out like gangbusters to show potential teams that he can still carry the rock. That four week signing could keep our running game fertile until Turner’s return. Just musings of a hopeful fan. Only on third beer, by the way.

Shawty

November 15th, 2009
9:49 pm

WR you gone to lick your wounds or need some help? I’m getting killed.

Shawty

November 15th, 2009
9:50 pm

Box a change can do a man good.

Box

November 15th, 2009
9:52 pm

Shawty,
I’ll refrain from the obvious retort. LOL

sportaree

November 15th, 2009
9:53 pm

Box, my last one. If we could sign Stecker short term, is it not possible to sign another back for a few weeks?

Ed

November 15th, 2009
9:55 pm

D3 you da man! One issue that has only been briefly mentioned is not going for it on fourth down. I’ve always felt FG’s are for losers. If you can’t pickup a yard or two for a first down, just man up and hold’em and score a TD on the next possesion. It takes 3 possesions to score more points than a TD (with the extra point).

This three game stretch coming up could easily leave us at 5-7 and a shaky locker room. You were dead on about “achieving so much success last year” that it has put undue pressure on the entire team, but mostly Ryan. Now, with all the key injuries, we may see the Falcons stumble to the finish making a 9-7 season a huge achievment if they can pull it off.

WR

November 15th, 2009
9:55 pm

I could use some help of course, yeah apparently my team is in that dreadful slump stage, picked a bad time for it to happen.

For all the talk about the team my problem is with the playcalling. I’m tired of seeing all these wide open attacks, for instance tonights Pats, Colts game, can we please open up the play calling and get creative, can we please take advantage of all these weapons. Hell if Ryan threw 4 picks in a game trying to get use to a wide open attack I could take that, but these interceptions and this highschool passing attack kill me.

Box

November 15th, 2009
9:55 pm

sportaree,
I’m guessing Stecker is still available, but I know that LJ is full of sour grapes and don’t want to kill the locker room chemistry.

Shawty

November 15th, 2009
9:56 pm

Talking about LJ LOL

Shawty

November 15th, 2009
9:58 pm

Well there may have been some innunendo.

falcon21

November 15th, 2009
10:01 pm

I remember it well Box. It shames me to say but back then I was a Cowboys fan until the early 80’s. I became a true fan of the Birds after that. I still liked the Cowboys until Jones bought the team but after 80 the Falcons were my team.

Box

November 15th, 2009
10:03 pm

Shawty,
The B’s are getting killed. You do have three tomorrow, though. Is WR getting stomped as well?

Shawty

November 15th, 2009
10:06 pm

He’s done . Didn’t get stomped but lost just the same.

Box

November 15th, 2009
10:08 pm

Falcon21,
That was when the Smith’s owned Life of Georgia insurance. Before the forgeign interests bought them out. I’ve always been a Homer. Born and bred in Atlanta. That’s just me, though.

Shawty

November 15th, 2009
10:08 pm

Brady is not done wreaking havoc on me yet fo’ sho’

Dawson Devitt (D3)

November 15th, 2009
10:08 pm

Box – I completely agree about our receivers. We were supposed to be stacked at the position and Jenkins is back to his old tricks; Weems and Booker are no threats at all in the slot and Finneran appears to be done, maybe a year or two left, and HD will be coming off injury. Personally, if we have the chance, I want to lock up Norwood possibly at a discount and see what a healthy Turner-Norwood-Snelling three headed monster would look like, and despite the injury, Norwood has proven that to be a game-breaker. I would much rather draft a wide receiver, say 3rd or 4th at the minimum.

LJ – I would seriously doubt TD considering bringing in Larry Johnson. The risk just isn’t likely worth the potential reward, and this is after seeing Dimitroff seeing his mentor Scott Pioli taking an outright loss by releasing him. Sure would’ve been nice to find a way to keep Thomas Brown on the practice squad. Don’t forget that other teams practice squad members are also possibilities, such as the Vikings Ian Johnson (former Boise St. RB). Only thing is that they would have to sign them immediately to their active roster. Verron Haynes might be getting some more serious rushing looks.

BigHittas – That’s an excellent point. I think that we’re hoping for the best, but this was a very deflating loss in many ways, going forward.

falcon21 – Thank you for bringing up that point. Curses are so d@– ridiculous because our players, coaches, owner, and staff have absolutely nothing to do with our sordid past. Smiths didn’t give a S— about winning, Blank does. I would like for us to beat it just to drop this ridiculous thing.

Box

November 15th, 2009
10:12 pm

D3,
Where do you think Dez Bryant will land in the draft?

Dawson Devitt (D3)

November 15th, 2009
10:21 pm

WR – perfect point. I love the run first approach, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Ryan at least attempt a passing attack. For that to happen we really need to improve our receiving corps, IMHO. Jenkins finally made a believer out of me after last year, but the dude is a serious under-achiever and someone who was drafted in the first round, BTW. Not saying that the Colts and Pats have household names, but they at least run good routes and catch the d— ball. Look at the Colts and Saints corps: they take a chance on a WR in every draft and have built their corps up.

Comparison:

Saints (Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, Lance Moore)
Falcons (Roddy White, Michael Jenkins, Eric Weems, Marty Booker)

This quote stuck out to me after reading about the Saints, Drew Brees said “Coach Payton specifically scripts pass plays for each of their wideouts”…………….compare that to our passing attack.

Panthers_Fan_Clt

November 15th, 2009
10:24 pm

This D3 dude isn’t an actual sportwriter in Atlanta is he? There is no way – because if he is I have to wonder what low standards the AJC really has to be a “writer” down there.

Couple of notes you ought to take here DAWSON…first of all, playing a division rival who has won 4 of their past 6 games and has shown remarkable turnaround from September is hardly considered a “trap game”. Do you even know what a trap game is? I am certain the Falcons coaching staff would have a good laugh if you asked them if they were worried this divisional matchup, being played in Charlotte, against a team that has been playing like it has the past 6 weeks, was a trap game. Then again, I’m also certain you probably don’t have any credibility in the Atlanta sports circles anyway if you consistently write garbage like this.

“The Falcons were supposed to win this game”…really? REALLY? How did you come to that brilliant assesment? Hate to break it to you buddy, but you guys aren’t as good as you think you are. Games you are supposed to win…St. Louis, Detroit…I’d give you those. But if you think this one was a gimme, you’ve clearly demonstrated your football ignorance.

Something you ought to understand about the NFL there Dawson is that the season ain’t made in September. You’re reason for saying this was one you should win was the “early tumbles”…but I think even your small mind would have to agree that many teams in November are not the same teams they were in September. And I think everyone could see that these are two of those different teams.

Panthers_Fan_Clt

November 15th, 2009
10:25 pm

And in case I forgot to mention it…..GO PANTHERS!!!!!!!!!!!