SEATTLE – Power rankings don’t count for much in the NFL. So the Falcons need not worry about perceptions that their defense is a mess, their offense remains prone to hiccups and, worst of all, they just made Tarvaris Jackson look like Aaron Rodgers, which was believed to be scientifically impossible.
Also, it’s not well-timed, considering the real Aaron Rodgers returns the scene of his destruction next week. They can pray for an implausible personality switch and hope Rodgers, in warped symmetry, looks more like the typical Jackson next Sunday, but I wouldn’t count on it.
“We’ve got some problems to work out,” linebacker Mike Peterson said. “You don’t see us high-fiving each other.”
The Falcons won a game on Sunday, 30-28. Because the NFL is a league of bottom-line results, they can take comfort in that and not be concerned about a collective eye-roll from team officials after the game and fans and media thinking and saying in unison, “Yech.” But when a team gets dominated by one of the league’s worst franchises in the second half, and is outscored 21-3 down the stretch, and escapes with a win in part because the opposing coach mismanaged his time-outs, there is little cause for celebration.
Not that 2-2 would be much reason to celebrate anyway. If Jackson throws for 319 yards and three touchdowns, what’s Rodgers going to do?
Coach Mike Smith said, “We were very fortunate to come out with a win.”
The Falcons get credit for that. They won a road game, the week after getting beat up in Tampa Bay. They had scored just one offensive touchdown in their first two road games. But against Seattle, they found the end zone on their opening drive and three of their first four. Then the offense fizzled. But 30 points should be enough to win a game, especially against the NFL’s 31st ranked offense. Seattle coach Pete Carroll has found life significantly more difficult without Oregon State on the schedule, and it’s fair to say that acquiring superior talent is easier at USC than it is in a relative NFL outpost.
So what happened? It was like the team suffered a collective lull. It doesn’t project well for the rest of the season and certainly for the next three games before the bye: Green Bay, Carolina and Detroit (road).
“We’ve got to be able to finish off a game like this,” said defensive end John Abraham. “It shouldn’t have been close. We should’ve been more comfortable at the end of the game.”
Comfort is non-existent right now.
Seriously. Tarvaris Jackson?
He threw for 319 yards. That’s a career high. He threw three touchdown passes. He had only accomplished that feat once in 37 previous games. He wasn’t sacked and barely touched. There also was the eight-yard touchdown he threw to Ben Obomanu on third down when somebody simply forgot to cover the receiver.
Smith: “Yes, there was a mix-up.”
Jackson was sorry to see the Falcons leave town.
Trailing 27-7, the Seahawks scored touchdowns in three of their five second-half possessions. These were the exceptions: 1) An interception that could’ve easily been a TD. Jackson passed to Zach Miller in the end zone, but the ball was jarred loose by James Sanders and fell into the hands of Thomas DeCoud; 2) A missed 61-yard field goal attempt with eight seconds remaining. The Seahawks might’ve been able to drive further than the Falcons’ 43 for a shorter attempt, but they had little time to operate because Carroll had burned two timeouts early in the half (one when realizing they had 12 players on the field, the other when he didn’t like the defense).
Four games in, the Falcons aren’t nearly operating at the level they were a year ago (when they were 3-1 with only an overtime loss at Pittsburgh). There was progress Sunday in pass protection and the offense. Defensively, they’re not even close. As Peterson said, “It’s not one thing. One guy here makes a mistake. One guy there makes a mistake. Next thing you know, five guys are making mistakes. Everybody’s taking a turn.”
Team work is good. Not like this. Even if a win is a win, this one doesn’t project well.
By Jeff Schultz