NFL

A Game of Inches

The game is scheduled for 60 minutes. The field is a hundred yards long. There are hundreds of plays, but sometimes it all boils down to inches, as the Falcons realized the hard way on a field goal attempt that went doink off the left up right at the end of regulation. Then in overtime on 3rd and 1 a failed quarterback sneak that netted inches followed by 4th and one that was totally blown up by linebacker Denzel Perryman on a state of Florida head on collision with friend Devante Freeman.  Both players grew up in Florida with roots going back to their high school days as standouts and college stars at Miami and Florida State.

 

Dan Quinn On going for it on fourth and one:

“I definitely did yeah. It was one of those times where I wanted to stay aggressive, and I wanted to get that message sent to the team. So when it comes down today where we didn’t get that one, that’s part of living the life that we live here. The guy made a play to get a stop. It was just really a message of how much I believe in our team.”

 

It was either a bad call or a fantastic defensive play. Give credit where credit is due, it was a heck of a play by the former Miami Hurricane who sacrificed body and limb in an all-out effort to get to them feet. The scenario took me back to Super Bowl when the Seahawks decided to throw the quick slant from the one yard line instead of running Beast Mode Marshawn Lynch that was intercepted by Malcom Mitchell in perhaps the greatest defensive play of all time.

 

Should he or shouldn’t he, had gone for it is the question of the day? He should have punted it away to play the field position strategy instead of giving San Diego the ball near the fifty yard line. Easy to say or see while looking in the rearview mirror, unfortunately head coach Dan Quinn didn’t have our luxury we know the result.

When asked about the controversial decision each player answered the question emphatically “yes we knew Quinn was going to go for it, that’s who he is, he is an aggressive coach and that’s our identity.”

That’s what championship teams are made of today it didn’t work for the Falcons perhaps it’s a difficult character building block for the future.

 

Matt Ryan On whether he was surprised by the play call:
“Absolutely not. That’s the way Dan [Quinn] is and that’s the way our entire team is – we want to attack and we want to be aggressive. As players, it’s our responsibility to make him right and to go out there and make the plays, and we had two chances on third-and-short and then fourth-and-short and we didn’t get it done. From a player’s perspective, that’s the point that’s very disappointing.” The falcons had their opportunities to put the game away but couldn’t they would put together a great drive or make an outstanding play something would go wrong. It was either a false start or a holding penalty at key times undisciplined play reared its ugly head to kill momentum.

The Chargers scored on their first series of the game driving 75 yards on 7 plays before scoring on a 2 yard touchdown pass out of shotgun formation by Phillip Rivers to 2nd year running back Melvin Gordon who is coming into his own in the NFL.

 

The Falcons started hot and heavy with a concentrated effort to get all world wide receiver Julio Jones involved early targeting him three times out of the 10 plays it took them to score. His first catch was for 8 yards, the second was for 16 yards and the third was for 19 yards. Anytime he is involved early it truly puts the defense on notice. The drive stalled resulting in a successful 42 yard field goal by M. Bryant. Deion Jones played the tip drill game grabbing a well-timed interception out of the air and ran it back 42 yards using a few of his undercover running back skills to give the offense a short field in the red zone down to the San Diego 10 yard line. Unfortunately they could only move the ball one yard in three plays to the nine yard line. M Bryant trotted out to kick another successful field goal making the score 7-6 in favor of San Diego. It’s nice to get on the scoreboard but when your opponent can get 6 points in one shot and you get 6 in two shots it requires twice the effort. The Falcons took the lead on a Matt Ryan 17 yard touchdown pass to J.Tamme that completed a 7 play, 75 yard drive. The score was well deserved but that added drama of two penalties they had to overcome, a False Start by R. Schrader and an Offensive Holding by C. Chester made it more challenging however they overcame to take the lead at 13-10.

 

The falcons went on to score two more touchdowns, one defensive when V. Beasley who is starting to play like the defensive sack machine they thought they were getting when he was drafted number one out of Clemson eighth overall last year. Beasley on a bull rush move sacked Phillip Rivers jarring the ball loose for the big boy A Clayborn to pick it up for a 5 yard touchdown to cap the lineman’s dream of scoring a touchdown. Beasley has produced to the tune of 5 1/2 sacks over the last 4 games with 2 today. Having the old savvy veteran (93) Dwight Freeney on and off the field sharing tricks of the trade complimented with one year of experience under his belt appears to be a major benefit.

The Falcons were up 27-10 after scoring 3 touchdowns in a row. The half ended with M. Gordon of the Chargers scoring on a 3 yard plunge to go in the dressing room respectfully at 27-17.

 

Despite some big plays the second half was a totally different story the San Diego defense took control of the game while the Falcons self-destructed after a signature 15 play, 75 yard drive lead by Phillip Rivers making the score 27-30. The Falcons drove to the Chargers 40 yard line before the self-inflicted wounds two false starts on back to back plays the first by R. Schraeder followed immediately by A Levine. On the next play Matt Ryan threw an interception to D Perryman which set the stage for J Lambo to kick a game tying 33 yard field goal. With 18 seconds remaining most of us expected the falcons to just take the snap go down and kill the clock to play for overtime instead the Dynamic Duo of Ryan to Julio went to work setting the state for a dramatic conclusion. It went 25 yards to the 50, an incompletion, then another for 10 yards to the San Diego 40. Suddenly they were in field goal position. M Bryant was prime time the 58 yard attempt was high enough and long enough but it kissed off the left upright to the dismay of the crowd.

 

Atlanta took first possession in overtime drove down to their own 45 yard line before they were faced with a 3rd and 1. That’s where the controversial play calling occurred, the quarterback sneak failed to pick up the much needed yard. They decided to go for it on 4th and 1 instead of punting which was to their demise as Perryman dove in and pulled Freeman down by the foot short of the line to gain. “Honestly, we had real belief we were going to make it and keep the drive going and keep extending it. Just a gut feeling that I went with. It didn’t work. We can second guess it; that’s easy to do, but it was more of a mindset. I have such belief in the guys to go get aggressive and get that half-a-yard that we needed so when we didn’t, that was a costly mistake said Head Coach Dan Quinn.

The cagey Chargers veteran QB Phillip Rivers was licking his chops moving the ball down to the Atlanta 32 before they were gifted 5 yards on a defensive holding down to the 22 yard line. J Lambo sealed it with a dramatic high pressure 42 yard field goal right down the middle to win the game 33-30. The Falcons squandered a 17 point half time lead and put up only 3 points in the second half.

QB Matt Ryan said “It’s a tough loss, obviously. We had some opportunities to maybe put that game away earlier. We didn’t make the plays when we needed to, so it’s disappointing any time you lose and don’t get the outcome you want. But we’ll bounce back, get back to work tomorrow and make the corrections. It’s a long haul, so we’ve got to put this one behind us and try to improve when we get back to work tomorrow.”

After starting hot at 4-1 the falcons have fallen to 4-3 losing a heartbreaker last week on a controversial non call for pass interference against Julio Jones in the middle of the field for the sports world to see.

 

Julio Jones On the no-call
“They said it was uncatchable even though he pulled me down and I still touched it with one hand. They still said it was uncatchable.”

 

 

Interesting facts of the game

  • Matt Ryan broke the NFL Record with his 46th consecutive game throwing for more than 200 yards surpassing Dan Fouts. His game stats were 22-34 for 273 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 critical interception.
  • Phillip Rivers went 27-44 for 371 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception.
  • Julio Jones was targeted 15 times catching 9 passes for 174 yards.
  • Ty Williams was targeted 10 times catching 7 passes for 140 yards.

 

 

 

 

Next up for the Falcons, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

 

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