Ahead 21-7 midway through the third quarter, the Atlanta Falcons started to crumble. The Falcons surrendered 21 straight points as Matt Ryan tossed two of his season-high three interceptions while Atlanta also lost a fumble to end the third quarter. The 24-21 loss marked the third consecutive defeat for the Falcons and their fourth over the last five games.
Atlanta badly missed starting back Devonta Freeman, who exited with a concussion in the first quarter after dashing his way to 43 yards on just three carries. After he left the game, the Falcons mustered only 51 yards on 19 carries, averaging 2.6 yards per carry. Terron Ward initially came in for Freeman, adding two yards on two carries and then Tevin Coleman had 17 runs for 48 yards. Coleman’s third-quarter fumble proved costly however and the Falcons again faltered on offense.
Losses are piling up and against very weak opponents, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, San Francisco and Indianapolis over the last five weeks. The last three losses have come by a combined seven points including two three-point defeats to Tampa Bay in overtime in Week 9 and on Indianapolis on Sunday.
At 6-4, the Falcons playoff chances are dwindling with each loss. Their schedule doesn’t get much easier after this Sunday as they host Minnesota next week before heading to Tampa, Carolina and Jacksonville and then host the Panthers and the Saints to end the season.
The way they are blowing leads and coming up empty is pretty atrocious as well. Ryan’s errant interception which went right into the paws of Colts’ linebacker D’Qwell Jackson came early in the fourth quarter. Jackson proceeded to take the ugly throw six yards into the endzone for the tying score. The NFL’s oldest player, kicker Adam Vinatieri at age 42 did what he always does and nailed a game-winning field goal with under a minute left in the game.
“We haven’t finished a game in about a month,” Falcons wide receiver Roddy White told ESPN. “We’ve got to find a way to finish one of them.”
White’s simple sentiment needs to start resonating in Atlanta’s locker room if they don’t want to completely fall apart from here on out. After starting this season 5-0 under new head coach Dan Quinn it’s hard to believe this team is where it’s at currently.
Ryan in this five-game stretch has struggled to find consistency as he’s recorded nine touchdowns and six interceptions with two games with passer rating in the 60s and two games with multiple interceptions. Overall, he’s thrown two or more picks in four games which is his most since 2013.
The Falcons offense has struggled even with top playmakers Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman running the show. However, their play hasn’t been enough to muster enough wins as of late. Now that Freeman could miss some time with a concussion, Atlanta has to readjust.
Minnesota at 7-3 comes to the Georgia Dome next Sunday in a crucial NFC matchup. The Vikings own the fifth spot in the NFC and top wildcard standing while the Falcons are sixth. However, Tampa Bay and Seattle are creeping up fast at 5-5.
Atlanta needs to get its act together. Now is the time to turn this ship around. Ryan and the offense know what they need to do; limit turnovers and score more points.