In a script fit for Hollywood featuring hope, drama, suspense, and action, the Atlanta Falcons stood on the verge of victory before flatlining. After last week’s debacle, they were on life support, the Bears may have pulled the plug by erasing a sixteen point fourth-quarter deficit defeating the Falcons 30-26.
The offense sputtered on the last six drives contributing to twenty unanswered points. In consecutive weeks they have collapsed going down the stretch blowing double-digit leads.
With the game on the line, the offense had three drives of three plays and out. They threw the ball more than they ran it, thus taking minimal time off the clock reminiscent of the Super Bowl.
Matt Ryan On throwing five passes in six plays prior to the Bears taking the lead and whether there were discussions about trying to get the ground game going and burning clock:
“Yeah, that’s part of it. You know, we’ve got to find a way to improve in those situations. We haven’t been good enough as an offense the last two weeks, but as players, you go out there, and you try and make the call come to life. That’s where we’ve got to put our focus. We’ve got to find a way in those situations to make a play, and it just takes one. This is a tough league, but a spark here or there can go a long way, and we’ve got to make one of those in these end-of-game situations.”
The signature undisciplined careless penalties reared their head. False start, unnecessary roughness twice, Illegal shift, and the dreaded neutral zone Infraction were awful displays of what not to do when you are desperately fighting for a much-needed victory to keep oxygen in your season.
Dan Quinn on whether the fourth-quarter struggles are a result of coaching:
“Well, number one, it falls on me in all spaces. I want to make sure we’re clear on that. But we’re all in this together. So when there’s a game, there’s things to do differently offensively, defensively, on special teams. We are all connected on it together, but at the end of the game, the results and setting up things for how it will go, that falls right through me.”
Nick Foles replaced a struggling Mitchell Trubisky at the 9:58 mark in the third quarter. He performed heroically, completing 16 of 29 passes for 188 yards with three incredible fourth-quarter touchdowns after two touchdowns were overturned during standard scoring reviews by the eye in the sky.
The change of pace threw the Falcons defense entirely out of kilter. They had absolutely no idea of how to stop Nick Foles. He operated with the precision of a highly skilled heart surgeon scoring the last two touchdowns in eight plays. It was masterful. Beyond any shadow of a doubt, he is the best backup quarterback in football.
The game started Ideal. The Falcons took the roof off by going up top to Calvin Ridley for 63 yards on their first snap. It was the perfect prescription from the football gods for a wounded team. They went on to score, but Young Hoe Koo missed the extra point try, symbolic of the Falcons season great play in spurts but never put together a complete game in all phases.
Quarterbacks get too much credit for winning and feel the brunt of criticism for losing, chalk it up to characteristics that come with the territory. They are the big money guys, and fans expect them to be superheroes. Today the Superheroe came off the bench for the Chicago Bears wearing cape #9 Nick Foles. There was no sighting wearing cape #2.
The Falcons had the stage set for a last-minute dramatic win. The pressure-packed last-minute drive ended with Matt Ryan throwing an interception causing the EKG Monitor to flatline across the stadium.
Let’s face it since the Superbowl collapse. The identity of this team has become start good, build a significant lead, and loose going down the stretch. As Dennis Green famously said, “they are who we thought they were.” Why did we expect anything different? This loss will come with consequences either a hopeless season with no aspirations of a Superbowl or the end of the Dan Quinn era.
Dan Quinn was asked the hot question whether he’s afraid the identity of the team will be building big leads but not holding on:
“Well, let’s wait until we get all the way through. I think that’s the best part of an identity, it’s not something that you do early, it’s not something that you tag on late, it’s got to be the whole season, and there’s going to be a lot of football to play and a lot of wins to have, but make no mistake, the finish has to be better.”