Miami 20 at Atlanta 17
October 15, 2017
Photos & Article by: Allison Smith
The game started off a little sluggish. The Falcons received the opening kickoff, but once again were not able to score a touchdown, held to a 50-yard field goal. By the time it was 17/0, I felt better and confident and assumed the second half would be a repeat of the first half instead of a repeat of previous games. The Falcons did not score a point in the second half, and actually had limited offensive snaps. Offensive Coordinator, Steve Sarkisian, was in the box for the first time this week, supposedly able to see the field and plays better and therefore make quicker adjustments.
The opening drive did have a few good plays, one of which was by Julio Jones. He was not credited with the catch as he was blanketed with a defender. Note though, that Julio, while completely hugged, did catch the ball on the sideline and likely would have been credited with that 12 yard catch. Unfortunately, a few plays later, at 3 and 1, Matt Ryan tossed several yards back to Tevin Coleman, who ran up, but still lost a yard. This forced the first Matt Bryant field goal of the day. Of course it was successful, even at 50 yards. Bryant was listed earlier in the week as sitting out some practices with back issues, we did not see those Sunday.
Deion Jones was on fire Sunday, nearly collecting 3 interceptions. One was almost, one was an interception, and a third was an interception that was negated due to a penalty. Whatever “get the ball” speech was given last week took for Debo at least. And other defenders were definitely reaching for strips allot on the day. Keanu Neal was back to the power hitting he is known for.
After Debo’s near interception and a big stop by Neal, the Falcons moved the ball quickly between Taylor Gabriel and Jones, who refuses to be tackled. Then, Marvin Hall, who was on the practice roster Saturday morning. Active roster Saturday afternoon. End zone Sunday. Just before the end of the first quarter, Ryan hit Hall with a 40 yard pass for the first touchdown of the game.
We start to see the game turn around now. Jay Cutler has 3 errant passes, caused by pressure from the Falcons D line and a good Brian Poole break up. The Dolphins punt, thinking they are trapping the Falcons deep, but expert returner Andre Roberts puts a linebacker block on the gunner ensuring the ball drops into the end zone and the Falcons O starts on the 20. Then instantly, an Andy Levitre has a false start and they start on the 15. And, here we go. The beginning of the end. Julio now tips the ball, but not for an interception. Coleman and Devonta Freeman both had unsuccessful runs. Well, stopped deep in their own territory, the ever dependable Matt Bosher comes on to punt. And kicks it out of bounds near midfield.
On the Dolphins next drive, the defense stepped up. Poole knocked the air out of Cutler, Robert Alford his the runner so hard, his own helmet came off. Miami then, disrespectfully goes for it on 4th and 3 at the 39. And Dontari Poe, the big man in the middle knocks the pass back to Cutler.
Energized by the big stop, the offense comes out hitting on all cylinders now. Freeman goes for a big 44 yard gain, as he gets in the open field, the jets turn up and as he feels the defenders, he double wraps the ball. Free is so smart and aware and loves to eat. A couple of plays later Coleman stretches for the end zone, crosses, fumbles, recovers and the Falcons are now up 17 to 0. I think everyone (in black and red) in the Benz Nest now feels better about the game and safe and ready for a quick half time break.
With just over 2 minutes until halftime, much drama ensues. The Dolphins have already been a little chippy all game. Which continues, including Takk McKinley and Poole. I personally would pick another Falcon to fight before Takk, but to each his own. Some shoving and talking. De’Vondre Campbell gets a personal foul for a “late hit” on Cutler, Desmond Trufant almost gets a pick himself. After the 2 minute warning, Grady Jarrett gets a big tackle. Debo knocks one down, along with the crowd, the impending defensive look causes a false start. Then suddenly, the Deion Jones interception on the day!
With limited time remaining, the offense drives quickly, with the benefits of the stars, Freeman and J Jones making big plays, then with 2 seconds remaining, they try a 59 yard Bryant field goal. The ball falls short, a Dolphin under the goal posts runs the ball out and takes a pretty vicious hit from Bosher. With that miss, the half ends and the scoring for the Falcons ends.
The second half started well enough. The Dolphins received the ball, Cutler isn’t getting his feet set on pass attempts due to the Falcons rush. Jarrett almost gets a sack on Cutler, then he and fellow Clemson teammate Vic Beasley, Jr. combine for a tackle. Had to be in the middle of that. The D keeps standing up, causing 4th downs, then on a 4thand 1, allow a 3 yard gain. Neal continues his hitting streak, the defense starts tipping balls of their own, Beasley almost making a pick of his own. While almost doesn’t count, but at least the effort is there, just not the full execution. Then, possibly my favorite play of the game. The D has a false start, Cutler recognizes the free play, as he drops back to lob up a big pass, until he notices TAKK coming strong. Cutler immediately downs the ball.
Unfortunately, that bit of fun was not enough and the Dolphins continued their drive and scored. The Falcons O, goes 3 and out. Another unusual short, Bosher punt up to the 49. And it is all downhill from here for sure. Jones has another interception, runs all over the field for limited yards, but was trying at least. Two flags are seen. One is the expected block in the back, with so much change of direction. The other, a roughing the passer call, which was before the interception, therefore nullified the interception, giving Miami the ball back deep in the Falcons territory leading to another touchdown.
Now, I know this is a crap call because I check my twitter feed and they say this call is on Grady Jarrett. Just because he is so big and fast, does not make him dirty. Jarrett clarified the call on Dukes and Bell on 92.9 The Game this week. He chatted with the referee making the call, it was not a late hit, the ref felt like Jarrett hit Cutler too high. Sadly, besides this call being hogwash, it was a game changer. The Falcons having the ball vs. the Dolphins keeping the ball with a short field.
As the 4th quarter begins, the Falcons drive up to midfield, then implode. Jake Matthews gets a holding call. Freeman gets no yards. Ryan is sacked. THEN the capping blow. Bosher doesn’t even have a chance for a bad punt because Josh Harris has a low snap, Bosher runs for a yard or two and Miami has the ball at the 50.
The defense has had a minute off the field, but come back on, Jarrett causes a 2nd bad throw. It’s 4th and 2 at the 44, and the Dolphins gain 9 yards. Campbell, who has been impressive and active all day, knocks a Cutler pass back at him forcing a field goal to tie the game.
The offense goes 3 and out again, but thankfully Bosher hits his usual (55 yard) huge punt finally. Poole starts to step up to the Poole we know and snaps up a fumble and heads down the field, with whistles blowing to signal a downed play. The defense is really going after the ball late in the game. Campbell knocks down another pass, forcing another field goal, giving Miami the 3 point lead, with over 2 minutes to go in the game. MORE than enough time for Matty Ice to bring out another miracle.
The Falcons quickly march down the field as Miami was giving up the run and under passes, but nothing over the top. Miami was playing for the tie. With 47 seconds to go, I turned to a neighbor and said, “Just put Money (Matt Bryant) out there and tie this up and let us have a few minutes break. Coach did not listen to me, the drive continued, until, you guessed it, an interception. This was not a tipped ball, if that makes it any easier to swallow. Austin Hooper should have caught the ball, however, this game is not on him. First, he was being tackled and the ball knocked out by another Tiger, rookie Cordrea Tankersly. Reshad Jones caught the ball for the final real play of the game. Miami, who had been fighting and cheap shotting all day, now storm the field, run around like they won the super bowl, received an unsportsmanlike penalty, which backed them up for the final snap and kneel down of the game.
Ryan finished the game 24 of 35 for 248 yards a single touchdown and a single interception, his 6th of the season. The Falcons have moved too far away from the running game, with Freeman and Coleman combining for 82 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown (by Coleman) in the first half. In the second half, they had six rushes for 18 yards combined. The offense had 54 plays on the day. The Dolphins controlled the tempo of game most of the day. Coleman, the leading receiver before Sunday was targeted once on 37 passes.
Ricardo Allen led the defense with 7 solo tackles. Debo had 11 combined and an interception, followed by Neal with 8, and Campbell’s 4. Campbell is excited to go against Rob Gronkowski next week. He definitely has the size to handle Gronk.
The Falcons had 6 penalties for 73 yards, again, at the worst possible times.
Overall, I do not think this is a Super Bowl hangover, or another choke job. If you’ve been around long enough, you know this is how the Falcons play sometimes. Doesn’t make it any better, just an observation. The defense still looked gassed early in the 3rd quarter, offense is still not clicking or using all of their weapons.
While, this is very frustrating, I will always support my team and pick myself back up for Sunday night’s “Super Bowl Rematch.” Let’s go ahead and figure out our over/under on the number of times the Super Bowl is mentioned. Remember, we may have given up the biggest lead ever, but we also took the great New England Patriots with Tom Brady to OVERTIME.
Dan Quinn may have very well been playing possum these last two weeks, just to get the biggest revenge of them all. We all know that is unlikely, but wouldn’t that be a worth it couple of losses?
I am expecting a big win this week and the season to go up from there.
Iron Falcon Award: Two 2nd year defenders this week. Deion Jones should have been credited with 3 interceptions and was active all day. De’Vondre Campbell for knocking down numerous passes and being very disruptive in the backfield.