By David Schiele
The Falcons struggle defending dual-threat quarterbacks, pro-bowl caliber tight ends, and elite running backs. The Buffalo Bills have all three.
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor used his legs to evade sacks and convert multiple third downs while running back LeSean McCoy forced missed tackle after missed tackle. And tight end Charles Clay served as a reliable target in the intermediate and deep passing game. Add in a stiff Buffalo defense, and you will get a 23-17 win for the Bills. It’s Atlanta’s first loss of the year, as well as the first loss at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
It’s a loss that Atlanta needed.
After a 10-second run-off gifted Atlanta their win over Detroit, the Falcons dropped their usually classy attitude in favor of a cocky one. Some players sprinted onto the field to celebrate, while others chest-bumped and hugged on the sidelines. Specifically, Robert Alford could be seen celebrating in the end zone the same way he did after his pick-six in last year’s Super Bowl.
This uncharacteristic behavior continued throughout the week. The Falcons made little mention of the need to correct their mistakes from their week three win in Detroit which is why they made the same mistakes in week four against Buffalo.
Just like they did against the Lions, Atlanta turned the ball over three times—two interceptions and one fumble. Matt Ryan threw way too many uncatchable passes, and the seemingly catchable passes were not caught. The injuries to top receivers Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu only made a bad day seem much, much worse.
“We’re better than that,” said Matt Ryan after the game.
Anybody who watched the Falcons last season knows that Ryan’s statement is obvious. However, this loss to the Bills should motivate Atlanta actually to start working on performing better on Sundays. Nonetheless, the humble pie Buffalo served didn’t taste good. After the game, there was hardly a Falcon player in the locker room once media was allowed inside.
Atlanta will have a chance to digest, now that they are on a bye week. They will also use the free week to get a plethora of players healthy. Along with Jones and Sanu, FS Ricardo Allen, RT Ryan Schraeder, DE Courtney Upshaw, DT Jack Crawford, and LB Vic Beasley are all suffering from injuries.
We won’t see the Falcons again until Oct. 15 when they host the Miami Dolphins. Maybe then we will see the return of the classy Atlanta Falcons.
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