For three games they’d run nice and easy, never once trailing, facing only one gotta-have-this drive. (That came against Denver, and they got it.) But the Falcons play in the NFL, where nothing stays nice and easy, and Sunday they happened on an opponent who wouldn’t yield and a predicament that would have taxed the faith of a saint.
So it was that Matthew Thomas Ryan, named after two saints, took a snap at his 1 and backtracked into the end zone with 59 seconds remaining and his team, without a timeout to its name, down a point. Already Ryan had been sacked seven times, and as a nod to Carolina’s pressure the Falcons did something odd. At a moment of near-desperation, a time when you’d expect every receiver on the roster to be zigging this way or that, they dispatched only two men to run routes.
Roddy White down the left side, Julio Jones on the right. Everybody else stayed to block, and even as he retreated