If it weren’t for bad luck, the Atlanta Falcons would have no luck at all. After three gifted fumbles that blessed them with a (20-0) lead in the first quarter, somehow, they snatched a loss out of the jaws of certain victory. First, they gave us the most massive meltdown in NFL Superbowl History, blowing a 25 points lead (28-3). Today they gave us perhaps the weirdest play ever. The Dallas Cowboys had scored on 9 plays 76 yards drive to draw within two points (39-37) with 1:49 remaining short of a miracle. The game was over.
After a Falcons time out to ensure success, the debacle occurred. The entire front line of the receiving team watched a perfectly placed onside kick inch across the ten-yard restraining line spinning like a hypnotizing top. They were spellbound into being statues. Meanwhile, the Cowboys moved with precision, urgently collapsing on the ball, gaining possession. The miracle was gifted; the impossible was reality. All the Falcons had to do was gather the ball and run out the clock to preserve the victory.
Instead, they watched G Zuerlein kick a game-winning 46-yard field goal. It was the most incredible play I had ever seen. The players did not know they could fall on the ball before it went ten yards; it’s the kicking team’s limitation. It does not apply to the receiving team. They were paralyzed with confusion. “OMG, I couldn’t believe it.” Lack of knowledge took fans from the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat.
Of course, the Head Coach Dan Quinn was asked about the players no knowing they could touch the ball before it traveled ten yards on the onside kick?
“Well, I think they definitely know. The front three are usually blocking as they’re going, and the high bouncers go to the second side. So, the front line, generally on an onside kick, they’re looking to get a block first, and the high hop goes to the next player. When that instance happens, and it’s not one that’s a high hopper, then you just transfer in, and you go to your ball, but you’re looking at your assignment first of who you have to go block – certainly the ball and then your assignment. They definitely know the rule.”
The Cowboys gift-wrapped the game and placed it underneath the tree, and the Falcons figured out a way to lose. They came back from twenty points down and ripped the hearts out the Falcons with a 40-39 victory.
Social media went into a frenzy “fire Dan Quinn, the entire coaching staff and the front office.” One person included the City Administrator and the Mayor.
Dan Quinn On how the loss and 0-2 start impact his future as coach:
“Well, I think number one, you just want to attack it a week at a time. I’m obviously disappointed in the way the game ended because, as I said, there’s a lesson to be learned in a loss to say you have to go finish it out. I think this is going to be a very good team. We’re not there today, but the improvement we want to make, and what we can become, that’s all out there for us. Once we get past it, we’re going to go through it all tomorrow, and then we’ll put all our attention and focus onto Chicago.”
Most will focus on the polarizing play of Julio Jones, dropping an easy touchdown pass. The ball squirted between his palms. He is usually 99.999% sure-handed. Indeed it was an anomaly. That was a prelude to the sequel of bad news. Coaches preach one play does not cause you to lose a game; truth be known. The game was lost in the first half when they were forced to settle for field goals by a stellar Dallas Cowboys defense instead of touchdowns. The Falcons were limited to nine points instead of twenty one give credit to where it was earned.
The usual undisciplined plays showed up in the form of false starts, jumping offsides, illegal participation with too many players on the field. The killers were defensive holding and a pass interference that extended drives by granting a new series of downs.
Dan Quinn remained aggressive, going for it on fourth down-converting twice. The third attempt never had a chance. You guessed it. They shot themselves in the foot with another undisciplined act. It was fourth and two. They were hit with a penalty for too many men on the field, which forced a punt.
Dak Prescott took full advantage by connecting with Amari Cooper on a 58-yard bomb to set up a quarterback sneak for a touchdown after being knocked out of the game on a roughing the passer penalty by Deion Jones. It was amazing to see the scoreboard reflect 29-24. As bad as the Cowboys played, they fought back to make it a game.
The 21,000 fans in attendance at AT&T could smell what the Cowboys were cooking.
Matt Ryan On the frustration of scoring 39 points and losing the game:
“Well, every game shakes out differently. I think, as a player, you have to have the mindset that you have to do whatever it takes to get the job done. There are a lot of things that we could have done better on the offensive side of the ball. We need to focus on cleaning those things up.”
With the game on the line, they went after Oliver with four passes before he committed pass interference in the endzone to set up the last touchdown. It is confirmed the state of Texas has some jinx or voodoo on the Falcons. The Super Bowl Melt Down was in Houston and the Debacle in Arlington. Though this game was not to the liking of the Atlanta Falcons Fans, it’s the reason we love sports anything can happen on any given Sunday.