By Daivd Schiele
The sky above East Rutherford, New Jersey opened and poured heavy rain on MetLife Stadium. Without a doubt, it affected the Falcons, who are used to playing indoors. Nonetheless, Atlanta persevered for a 25-20 win to snap their three-game losing streak.
“That was some of the hardest conditions I’ve played in for the length of the game,” said quarterback Matt Ryan.
The rain forced Ryan to ditch the glove he usually wears on his non-throwing hand in exchange for a towel that he stuffed in his jersey. Ryan used this towel between every play to keep his right hand dry and wouldn’t expose his hand to the rain until he was ready for the snap. This strategy had its ups and downs. On one hand, Ryan completed 18 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns. On the other hand, he fumbled four snaps, losing two of them to the Jets.
The Falcon receivers had their struggles in the rain too. Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu dropped protentional first down catches, while Austin Hooper dropped an easy touchdown catch. Despite the struggles, Sanu and Hooper combined for 121 yards and two touchdowns.
“It was real tough; you just had to focus,” Sanu said of playing in the rain. “That’s not an excuse at all. That’s rule two for us – no excuses.”
Usually, rainy days cause football teams to run the ball more frequently because the ball is too wet and slippery to throw. The Atlanta defense took notice and stepped up. They only allowed the Jets to rush for 43 yards. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett was at the forefront of the run defense with seven total tackles—three of them for loss.
As a whole, the defense allowed only 20 points, despite the Jets starting four drives in Atlanta territory. Head Coach Dan Quinn still believes they can play better though.
“The area we’ve still got work to do is creating some more takeaways and then providing some more opportunities for the offense. Early on, we didn’t tackle quite as well as I had hoped, but I do feel we are significantly improved in that area,” said Quinn.
The Falcons now focus their attention on the Carolina Panthers, who serve as their first divisional opponent this season.