Posted in Gameday Goods

When You Use All Your O in Week 12

December 3, 2017

Minnesota 14 at Atlanta 9

By:  Allison Smith

Apparently we used up all of our good offense and points in last week’s win against Tampa Bay.  At least that was a fun game.  Now, with today’s loss to Minnesota, the Falcons are in quite the pickle.  They must win out, and likely hope for some help to make the playoffs.

With Desmond Trufant and Brian Poole (late scratch) both out at Cornerback, Blidi Wreh-Wilson stepped in.  Ricardo Allen moved to the nickel spot and Damontae Kazee took Allen’s spot at Free Safety.

The Minnesota Vikings take the opening possession of the game.  With a quick first down pass to Stefan Diggs and Deion Jones on the stop.  Then Brooks Reed and Grady Jarrett combine to stop a 1-yard run by Latavius MurrayJerick McKinnon has a 6-yard run, then Case Keenum throws a pass to Diggs that is perfectly defended and knocked out by Robert Alford forcing an early punt.  Andre Roberts fair catches at the 22 and the offense begins there.

Matt Ryan begins the Falcons offense with a pass to Julio Jones, unfortunately an overthrow of Jones.  Then a hand off to Devonta Freeman goes into the line for no gain, as Jones lines up for the crack back block.  The 3rd down pass to Mohamed Sanu falls incomplete, but the defender was all over Sanu and called for the PI.  In the shot gun, Ryan immediately hands off to Tevin Coleman who is immediately stopped for a loss of 2.  A pass to Austin Hooper gains 6 yards, then a quick snap leads to a 16-yard pass and first down to Levine Toilolo.  With Taylor Gabriel in motion, Ryan fakes to Freeman, the passes up to the line of scrimmage where Gabriel makes the catch, but it is nullified by a Jake Matthews’ block in the back.  Freeman knocks off 5 of the 20 needed yards.  Near midfield, Hooper makes a catch on a low ball, stumbling, but holds his balance and holds on to the ball and behind a Jones block, gains 7 yards. Freeman has a big run behind great blocking by Sanu and Gabriel, but, it is nullified by a very uncharacteristic holding penalty on Alex Mack.  Back to 3rd and 12 a pass to Coleman nearly gets the first down, but is stopped 2 yards short.  Ben Garland comes in, along with an extra tight end.  The Falcons 4th and 2 plan causes a Minnesota time out (note this as it will come in to play later in the half.)  Out of the time out, Ryan has a 15-yard pass to Coleman, easily converting the first down.  Again, Freeman, again holding penalty, this time on Garland who is it for Andy Levitre who just went out with a tricep injury.  Garland’s “hold” was more of a perfect take down, but that is not how the referees marked it.  Now, a 1st and 17 at the 31, Ryan fakes the run and overthrows Coleman in the end zone.  The pocket collapses for a throw away ball.  Suddenly it is 3rd and 17 and Ryan hands off to Freeman who gains 11 easy yards.  Matt Bryant comes in for the 38-yard field goal.  With just over 5 minutes to go in the first quarter, the Falcons lead by 3.

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Keenum brings the Vikings out for their second drive of the game at the 25.  They begin with a rush for 4 yards.  The coverage downfield was tremendous, giving Vic Beasley time to apply great pressure and Keenum to have an out of bounds throw.  Jones is called for a hold, moving the ball downfield and giving a free first down.  A couple of successful quick passes have the Vikings across midfield.  Reed is constantly in the backfield while Beasley is in and out of pass coverage.  A long pass to Rudolph is defended perfectly by Wreh-Wilson.  On 2nd and 10 with a 4-man rush, Keenum connects with Diggs for a great over the shoulder catch, but both feet are out of bounds.  Now, on a big 3rd and 10 at the 39, GRADY JARRETT gets in there for the SACK, on a quarterback that does not get sacked.  A loss of 9 forces the punt.

Roberts lets the ball bounce over his head and it bounces out of bounds at the 2.  Coleman runs up the middle but again, called back for a Justin Hardy block in the back, which is declined forcing a 2nd and 8 at the 4.  Another Coleman run on the far right side gains another couple of yards.  At the 8, it is 3rd and 4, Coleman is lined up as a wide receiver, and Ryan throws a quick slant to Sanu, a little high and Sanu only gets his finger tips on it, but luckily it fell to the ground.  Matt Bosher, under great pressure, gets the kick off to the 47 of the Vikings.

As the 2nd quarter begins, the Vikings start their short field drive with some quick passes and spinning runs.  Murray makes a big break through the line for a 30-yard gain until Keanu Neal makes the stop at the 2-yard line.  Jones makes a stop at the 1 forcing a 2nd down.  Then a floating pass to the end zone to McKinnon, who celebrates disrespectfully doing the Dirty Bird.  With 10 minutes to go in the half, the Vikings lead 7 to 3.

Roberts takes the kickoff out of the back of the end zone up to the 17, leading him to a sideline chat with Keith Armstrong.  Then, Ryan starts this possession the same as the first, a low, shoe lace pass to Jones, who catches it for the first down.  A fake handoff turns into a low pass to Marvin Hall and the Falcons are up to mid-field.  With 3 tight ends in the game, a handoff to Freeman who is tripped up, keeps his feet and gains another first down.  Ryan throws to Sanu and the Falcons are inside the 25.  When every play is to a different player, you cannot defend that offense.  Sanu and Ju are both on the left side, Ryan fakes, then scrambles up to the line of scrimmage, and instead of continuing his run, throws to Freeman at the first down marker, but it is too high for Freeman.  Jones had been knocked down by Xavier Rhodes.  2nd down and Hooper moves causing a 2nd and 15.  With a quick rush, Ryan throws to the line of scrimmage for a quick stop.  Now another long 3rd down, a pass to Hooper that is 5 yards short and forces another Bryant field goal.

Another Bosher touchback gives the Vikings the ball at the 25.  They pick on Wreh-Wilson again for a long pass, but Adam Thielen is out of bounds.  McKinnon runs along the sideline for 2 yards, until stopped by Alford.  Then Takk McKinley has an encroachment penalty.  To make up for that TAKK makes the SACK on the next play.  His 3rd sack in 3 games.  The Vikings punt to Roberts who returns from the 29 up to the 32.

A quick Coleman run gets 6 yards, a jet sweep that FINALLY works to Gabriel, gets the first down.  A quick pitch on the right side to Coleman for a 6-yard game.  Freeman replaces Coleman, as the 2-minute warning break is called.  Ryan next two passes are incomplete and Bosher punts to the 9.

Deion Jones quickly stops the 1st down draw.  A wide open pass over the middle for a first down and the Vikings use their first time out.  From the 23, Keenum is running from Beasley and gets a quick 5-yard pass off.  After another first down completion, the defense is swarming causing a very quick out of bounds throw.  Hit as he throws by Derrick Shelby, Keenum connects with Michael Floyd for a first down.  The Vikings have no time outs (remember they wasted one early), are at midfield with 20 seconds to go.   Keenum to Thielen at the 30 in the middle of the field, but is stopped as time runs out of the first half.

img_5603.pngThe Atlanta Falcons receive the ball in the 2nd half on the 25.  A fake to Freeman leads to a 9-yard pass to Toilolo.  Freeman easily gets the yard and turns on his jets and spin moves to gain 13 yards.  Garland gets held by a defender for a free 5 yards.  Sanu has a huge leaping reception, cutting back to Ryan for another first down.  A pitch back to Freeman gains 4 yards along the left side.  A pitch then to Coleman gains limited yards.  With 3rd and 3, Ryan stands in the pressure and throws over the middle, the ball on the ground with Sanu trying to get under it in time.  The Vikings challenged the catch, it was overturned and Bryant came on for another successful field goal.  The Falcons lead 9-7.

The Vikings have a big runback to the 30.  After a run, the Vikings are called for holding Neal who still made the tackle.  With a 1st and 20, they try to run the ball and Ricardo Allen comes in from the right side backfield and helps Beasley stuff the run for a 2-yard loss.  Adrian Clayborn again applying pressure, Beasley chasing Keenum causing him to pass beyond the line of scrimmage.  Now, the Benz Nest is getting LOUD.  3rd and 25, crowd noise, and the Vikings dump off a short pass with Debo and Rico combining for the stop and forcing a 4th and 13 punt.  A Viking tries to start a fight with Neal (really?) and Rico coming in to break everyone up as the D unites to defend each other.

Roberts fair catches at the 29 and begins again there.  First play, Sanu with a big 14-yard catch moving the Falcons to the 43.   Followed with a big pass to Jones, who was LITERALLY covered on the play, for a no call.  Freeman runs for a few yards, Hardy is called for another block in the back, and again, the Vikings decline forcing a 3rd and 8.  Being blitzed, Ryan heaves the ball down to Gabriel who cannot catch up with the ball with the defender slowing him up.

Kemal Ishmael holds on the punt and Bosher is forced to punt a second time, a booming, high kick and the Vikings start at their own 11.  Good call on the Vikings to make the Falcons re-kick.

Thielen makes his second catch of the day, 6-yards before meeting up with Rico.  Then Murray runs 12 yards for a first down, the Vikings up to the 29.  Murray is then stuffed by Takk.  Keenum has some time, avoids an ankle tackle by Courtney Upshaw and finds Diggs near midfield.  Several missed tackles by Falcons leaving their feet, McKinnon gains 7 yards.  THEN Murray is met by that unmovable force, Keanu Neal!  The crowd is loud again for 3rd down, but the Vikings still gain another first down.  After a 2-yard run, they try a jet sweep that is stopped by De’Vondre Campbell forcing a 3rd and 2.  The Falcons seem to have some personnel confusion and call a time out.  Rico makes the stop right at the first down marker.  The Vikings have the ball at the Falcons 24.  Murray makes a couple of good runs, before breaking out to get inside the 10.  Then he runs into Ahtyba Rubin as the 3rd quarter ends.

As the 4th quarter begins, Keenum throws an easy pass to Kyle Rudolph in the back of the end zone.  The Vikings now lead 14 to 9 over the Falcons.

Roberts takes the kick at the 2 and forces his way to the 23.  The pitch to Coleman is bobbled several times off his right shoulder pad, but Coleman captures the ball and still gains 3 yards.  Under pressure, Ryan throws in complete as he is hit.  Facing another long 3rd down and very unsuccessful today, Ryan is nearly sacked, but escapes and runs to the line of scrimmage.  Bosher punts a 56-yarder which is returned for a few yards and the Vikings begin a their own 27.

Keenum comes out throwing to Rudolph for 8 yards.  McKinnon fighting for a first down.  McKinnon runs for a couple, but is called back for illegal chop block on Jarrett’s legs.  Meanwhile, Debo is being helped up and walks off the field on his own.  The next 3 plays are all stops by Rico who has taken this defense and possession onto his shoulders.

Roberts returns the punt to the 29-yard line.  Freeman starts the drive with a 3-yard gain, then a 7-yard gain, running and leaning forward to get the first down.  The Falcons fake the run, the in trouble, Ryan tosses to Freeman who spins off tackles and gains another 7 yards.  Freeman takes a pitch back, goes to the left side, gains the first down and more behind the blocking of FB Derrick Coleman and Sanu.   The pass to T Coleman is dropped, then toss to Jones at the line of scrimmage, who forces his way for the first down, head first into defender.  Rhodes makes a stop on Coleman.  Ryan is a little high to Jones over the middle.  Another 3rd and long to Gabriel who is 4 short of the first down.  And, Bryant on for a field goal attempt that pulls just left of the goal post.

With just over 4 minutes to go in the game, the Vikings come out moving the ball easily to midfield.  The Falcons take their 2nd time out and allow a 3-yard gain, then take their final time out.  3rd and 4 and an easy 22-yard gain by Thielen.  Murray breaks through the line for a 9-yard gain, then the first down.

After the 2-minute warning, the Vikings take a knee to run out the clock for the win.  And all of the Falcon fans and Dan Quinn look as grumpy as I feel.

Injury Update:  No significant injuries occurred in the game.

Iron Falcon Award:  Ricardo Allen for single handedly stopping the Vikings in one series, from a different position, and continuing to be a team leader on defense.  Rico ended with 8 total tackles from his new nickel position.

 #RiseUp

 FalconAlley OWT

All Photos Courtesy of Atlanta Falcons

Posted in Gameday Goods

Ju Being Ju, With a Side of Sanu

November 26, 2017

Tampa Bay 20 at Atlanta 34

Finally we see the Falcons we know and love.  They came out aggressive, spreading the ball around, and getting Julio Jones involved.  Also, breaking records.  You know, being Falcons.

The game started off well enough.  Ricardo Allen, who had no tackles the week before, leads the defense with the first tackle of the day, and continued to lead the team throughout the day. Ryan Fitzpatrick started with a pass to DeSean Jackson, for a first down, with the stop by Rico.  Then they tried to run against Grady Jarrett.  Gaining 6 and 4 yards, but running into Grady twice is likely not really winning.  Then Fitzgerald ran for a first down and was clobbered by the defense.  Near the Atlanta 41, the Bucs run up the middle again, into Grady again.  Then the first of many familiar names, Jacquizz Rodgers has a quick 4-yard run.  Another quick pass covered by Brian Poole.  Then a 3rd down pass in the end zone to Mike Evans that Desmond Trufant knocks out.  The Buccaneers kick the field goal with Robert Alford rushing around the corner for the block.  With just under 10 minutes to go in the first quarter, Tampa Bay leads 3/0.  And that was the last time they would lead for the day.

Andre Roberts caught the kickoff at the goal line and ran out to the 26.  Tevin Coleman gets the start again with Devonta Freeman out and started with a nice 5-yard run.  Then, shockingly, an early pass to Taylor Gabriel for 4 yards, who meets former Falcon, Brent Grimes.  With 1 yard to go, Matt Ryan keeps the ball and pushes through for the first down.  A successful 8-yard pass to Austin Hooper, then a signal from Andy Levitre for Coleman to get behind him, for the push for the first down.  After a low pass to Julio Jones, Coleman gains a quick 3 yards, then a pass down the left side to Julio along the sideline for another first down.  A short pass drops just behind a crossing the field Julio, but Coleman makes up for that breaking tackles for a 10 yard gain, which is brought back by a Gabriel hold.  A quick screen to Gabriel gains nothing (not sure when we will learn that is not a good play) but right back to Gabriel, Ryan buys time, stands in the middle of defenders and hits Gabriel for 13 yards, 2 short of the first down because of the holding call.  Not to worry, Money Matt Bryant enters the field and easily kicks a 49-yard field goal with a few minutes to go in the quarter.

Quizz (Jacquizz Rodgers as us long time Falcons call him) returns the kickoff 26 yards and is stopped by the returning Duke Riley.  Fitzgerald overthrows Evans, the defense collectively stuffs a Doug Martin run, then the FANS are so loud on 3rd down, we cause a false start and get even louder.  It’s 3rd and 14 and with Dontari Poe in Fitzgerald’s face, he overthrows the receiver and a quick 3 and out forces a punt to the Falcons 23.

This quick drive starts off well with a Coleman 20-yard run, really turning up the speed.  Then a pass is tipped to fall incomplete, overthrow of Hooper who doesn’t make the catch and suddenly Bosher is back on the field.  Bosher has nice placement near the goal line, however CJ Goodwin cannot get to the ball in time to down it at the one.

The Buccaneers start on the 20 – my 20, so it is about to get loud.  Adrian Clayborn and De’Vondre Campbell are swarming Fitzgerald and tip his pass.  On their 3rd down attempt, another errant pass that Brian Poole had his hands on, but hits the ground.  Another forced 3 and out and a punt from the 10.

Roberts has an 18-yard return to give the Falcons the ball on the 40.  A short Ryan past to Sanu gains 4 yards.  Terron Ward goes off the right side and gains 5 yards, stopped by Grimes.  THEN the play that will it will go down in the annals of football history.  Sanu takes the direct snap, fakes the handoff, the ball pops up in the air, Sanu catches it and throws 51 yards to Julio Jones for the touchdown.  Julio’s second touchdown of the season.  Another successful 12 Gauge call (still think it should be called BeanCat).  Julio catches the perfect pass between two defenders, rolls, pops up, then as the O comes to celebrate, he leads Red Light, Green Light…in the best celebration ever, even if no one told Ryan.

The defense, along with the entire Benz Nest, are fired up and force another 3 and out.  A quick pass and quick stop by Rico, Tru, and Grady make the next quick stop.  Suddenly it is 3 and 14 and Vic Beasley’s elbow tips the pass and another punt is forced.  Brian Poole is shaken up on the series and is being evaluated on the sideline.

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Jet Jones – LITERALLY Flying Over for the Touchdown.  Photo Courtesy of Atlanta Falcons

Roberts gets a few yards on the return.  Then Julio has a 20-yard reception.  Then a 15-yard reverse to Julio.  Coleman has a 6-yard, then 1-yard one off the left side.  On 3rd and 3, Ryan finds Sanu across the middle for yet another first down.  Then Ryan decides he wants to pass for a Julio touchdown.  Julio LITERALLY flies over the end zone cone for the touchdown.  Only Ju.  Jones sells the post, the defender commits to the inside, Ju turns out, Ryan has already released the ball and Julio catches it as he starts to fall out of bounds, but stretches the ball over the end zone cone first.  Excellent offensive line blocking to give Ryan time.

The next Tampa Bay drive starts at the 17 after a Quizz return.  Then we see a heavy dose of Quizz with limited success. The Bucs are able to move the ball most successfully because of a CJ Goodwin PI as he was closing guarding DeSean Jackson.  Brian Poole has been ruled out for the rest of the game at this point and Trufant is playing inside at nickel.  On a 3rd and 3 with 2 minutes remaining in the half, Trufant makes a tackle along with Keanu Neal, who hits Trufant more than the downed receiver and Tru stumbles off the field.  A few plays later Fitzgerald drops back and sees Clayborn easily throw the lineman aside (similar to a ragdoll being tossed) and closing and make an errant throw.  His next pass is also incomplete as Clemson (Grady and Vic) are coming for him.  Then he is hit as he releases his next pass to the end zone, which Rico knocks away and it fall incomplete and the Bucs settle for another field goal

Roberts brings the kick off out to the 23.  The offense starts with a dose of Coleman for a nice 7 yards.  Then, again, Julio for 22 yards, then it’s Ju, Sanu, Ju, until a ball is incomplete to Julio in the end zone, so with 10 seconds left, another successful field goal. So, at half time, the Falcons lead 20 to 6 and everyone is feeling good.

Meanwhile, at half time, Arrow star, Stephen Amell comments that Mohamed Sanu is a better quarterback than any Cleveland quarterback in the last 10 years.  I love that Stephen Amell is even aware of our game.

The Falcons offense comes out on fire.  Opening up with a 23-yard pass to Julio.  A 5-yard run by Coleman.  Then a loss by Coleman, but immediately followed up by another 25 yards to Sanu, who knocks the defender back off of him.  Then Hooper gets a 20-yard reception.  Then Coleman has two back to back runs, the first a break out for 9 yards behind a big Andy Levitre block, then a 3-yard, hard fought touchdown run behind a Wes Schweitzer block.  Coleman comes up celebrating with carrying a baby in honor of his twins born on Saturday.

In 9 plays for 78 yards, the Falcons take a 27-6 lead.  Meanwhile we find out that Poole is out for the game and Trufant is headed back to the locker room to be further evaluated after the Neal hit.  Doug Martin for the Buccaneers is also ruled out for the rest of the game.

Fitzgerald finds a wide open Evans for 20 yards and is immediately stopped by Rocky.  At their own 45, the Bucs try a run and are met by Derrick Shelby, Poe, and Grady for no yards.  Fitzgerald throws a bad pass, and Rocky is called for holding, only a 5-yard penalty.  Fitzgerald throws a bullet down thru the middle of the field moving the Bucs to the 33-yard line.  A few plays later, Rico sees something, calls for different personnel that cannot get on and off the field in time causing a time out.  Due to injuries, Rico is playing corner and rookie Damontae Kazee at inside free safety.  This is the flexibility that Coach Quinn is always talking about.  However, it starts a little rocky and the Bucs are able to rush for a touchdown to reduce the Falcons lead to 27/13 late in the 3rd quarter.

Roberts has another good return, up to the 35, where an ankle tackle saves him from a likely touchdown return.  After Terron Ward loses a yard on the right side, Ryan has a behind the line pass to Julio, for a first down.  Then a pass down the right side to Julio, for a first down.  Coleman has back to back successful runs, up the middle, then spinning up the middle on the left side.  After a 6-yard pass to Sanu, the Falcons are forced to punt.

Quizz has a return up to the 44 with Neal chasing him down.  Then, likely feeling bad about knocking Tru out of the game, Neal nearly gets an interception.  Fitzgerald runs up the middle for 21 yards and slides, likely saving his life as the defense was swarming to him.

As the 4th quarter begins, the Bucs continue another touchdown drive.  Moving within 7 points of the Falcons.

Roberts gives the offense the ball at the 22.  Ryan starts out with a look at Gabriel, then as Julio crosses the field, catches the pass on the run for a 44 yard reception and electrifying the crowd again.  A failed pass to Hooper, then a 2-yard Coleman run, then back to Julio for another first down at the 23.  Then Ward bullets up the middle for 9 yards, heading for an easy touchdown, as a defender from behind rips the ball loose.  And of course, Grimes is there to recover the fumble and return it to the 42 where he is chased down by Ryan Schraeder.

Then in true Brotherhood form, the defense stands up to help out the offense.  Fitzgerald takes the Bucs quickly down the field, with quick passes to avoid Takk McKinley coming at him.  A quick run up the middle, then on the next pass, TAKK meets Fitz for the sack and lays him out.  Then does 10 push-ups.  Near the 20, Fitzgerald throws incomplete to the end zone, then on 3rd and 2, the crowd (me included) causes a time out.  Next play, if you are an Atlantan, you will get this, Rico MARTA busses the receiver.   Poe lays Fitzgerald out as he throws to the end zone where Keanu defends the pass perfectly, forcing a 4th down.  Rico knocks the ball out of the receiver’s hands before it is declared a catch.

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Defense Swarming – Photo by Allison Smith

The Falcons take over and go back to their routine.  Julio, Sanu, Sanu, Coleman run.  Once again, while being knocked around Julio makes another Julio type catch, shakes the tackles and gets another 23 yards.  Tampa Bay begins taking their time outs as Coleman grinds out yards, carrying numerous defenders with him for 8 yards.  Ward gets the ball again, gets 1 yard, the pushes and earns 13 more yards on his own and jumps up excited.  Just after the 2-minute warning, Coleman runs in a 14-yard touchdown and cradles the second baby to ensure both of his twins got touchdowns in their honor today.

In prevent defense, the Falcons allow the Buccaneers to easily move down the field, nearing the 35 and a 4th and 10, Rocky stops the receiver just short of the first down marker and the clock runs out.

What a great team win.  Offense lit it up.  Defense was pretty consistent, even with the injuries.  Special teams has been straightened out.  With the New Orleans Saints losing, the NFC South is getting a little closer, and if the Falcons do their job, we may very well take it….again…..

Injury Report:  Devonta Freeman continues concussion protocol and will be evaluated as the week progresses.  Desmond Trufant will be out against Minnesota in concussion protocol.  Brian Poole’s back injury is ok and is expected to play.  Note that Jalen Collins came off of suspension last week and was released from the Falcons, so they are not looking to bring him in to step in for Tru like last season.

Iron Falcon:  Obviously goes to Julio Jones who had 253 yards on 12 receptions and 2 touchdowns.  Then, also, Mohamed Sanu, not only for perfecting the 12 Gauge, but receiving 8 passes for 64 yards and converting several 3rd downs.

**Check out our Facebook page for pix and videos from the game.  Link is on the bottom of the homepage!

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FalconAlley Owt

 

Posted in Gameday Goods

Even 12 Men Can’t Beat the Falcons

Atlanta 34 at Seattle 31

When you take the opening kickoff back 50 yards, you know this game is going to be lit.  Well, as lit as an Atlanta Falcons game will get when it goes to the wire….again.    But a good start no doubt.  Andre Roberts gave the offense excellent starting field position and they used it.  The first pass is a drop by Julio Jones.  Then Tevin Coleman has a good 5-yard run.  Justin Hardy ensured a 9-yard catch on a low pass by Matt Ryan but going to the ground and getting under the ball for a great catch, then follows that up with a 7-yard sideline catch.  Then, early in the game, trickery begins.  Mohamed Sanu and the 12 Gauge up the middle for 3 yards.  Ryan goes right back to Sanu for the touchdown, which results in an incomplete pass with a Pass Interference call, so moves the ball to the 1-foot line.  Then behind Dontari Poe and Ben Garland, Coleman easily goes in for the 1-yard touchdown.  With 3 minutes off the clock, the Falcons are already on the board.

The ensuing kickoff tells you how the kicking game is going to go all day.  Matt Bosher, nursing an ankle injury, kicks off and the Seattle Seahawks’ Tyler Lockett takes the kick back 57 yards.  Bosher did lay a hit out on Lockett to slow him down before Desmond Trufant knocked him out of bounds. Vic Beasley and company are in the backfield as Russell Wilson quickly gets a pass off to Lockett for a 9-yard game before Deion Jones (who else) makes the first tackle for the Falcons defense.  On a reverse pivot, Wilson releases the ball, a little behind Lockett and it hits Trufant in the chest, surprises him a little, but he gathers the ball in for the interception and returns it 44 yards, behind the excellent blocking of Beasley.  Credit to Wilson for the tackle.

Ryan and company come back to the field and he lobs up a high pass for Jones, who, naturally, in double coverage, leaps up and comes down with both feet in on the sideline for a 16-yard gain.  Coleman has a short run, insert the same plan as the first possession with a successful pass to Hardy, for a first down.  At the 5-yard line, a low, errant pass is tipped and at least 5 Seahawk defenders tipped the ball before it finally fell to the ground.  After a time out to recoop their thoughts, Coleman gets a couple of yards rushing, then Bean Talk.  Sanu makes the one handed over a defender catch in the corner of the end zone look easy.  Now, midway through the first quarter, the Falcons are up 14/0.

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Mohamed Sanu Making a Big One Handed Catch – Photo Courtesy of Atlanta Falcons

Back to the kicking game.  Bosher hits the end zone, but Lockett brings it out to the 35-yard line.  Once again, Bosher is in on the tackle with the assist going to Robert Alford.  Some quick passes by Wilson, runs by Mike Davis, and a tripping penalty on the Falcons helps move the Seahawks down the field.  Keanu Neal is taken off the field after one of those Keanu hits and is evaluated for a concussion.  J.D. McKissic runs for 6 yards and is stopped by Damontae Kazee.  Three Falcons are covering Doug Baldwin in the end zone causing a 3rd and 4.  Wilson gets chased back out of the pocket, Grady Jarrett is held and gets the penalty call.  Then the tripping penalty moves the Seahawks back down the field and on a 2nd and 3, Wilson finds Jimmy Graham in the end zone where he leaps and catches over De’Vondre Campbell for their first touchdown of the game.

The next Falcon drive was lack lustered, 7 plays, incomplete passes, penalties on both sides, and another Bosher punt to start the 2nd quarter.  The Seahawks started on their own 23.  Then because of Poe, they were at the 20.  THEN because of a combined defensive line unit, they did not have the ball.  On 2nd and 13, Takk McKinley busted through the line, and falling was able to pull Wilson down from behind.  Meanwhile, Courtney Upshaw slides over Wilson knocking the ball out, and who was right there for the scoop and score?  Adrian Clayborn.  He may not have gotten the sack, but he did get the touchdown.  Now, with 14:04 left to go in the 2nd quarter, it is 21/7 Falcons!

Once again, on the ensuing kickoff, Lockett has a big return and is stopped at the 39 by Kazee.  The pressure continued through this drive.  Wilson completed passes to Baldwin and Davis, with Trufant and Poole in coveraged, and Poe and Clayborn forcing even quicker throws.  Driving deep inside the Falcons’ territory, the Tigers combine with Beasley chasing Wilson and Jarrett reaching him as he lobs a ball out of bounds.  Neal has returned to the field and stopped Davis at the line of scrimmage.  At 2nd and goal McKissick and Graham are both in with no backs.  Brooks Reed is chasing the scrambling Wilson, while Clayborn reaches him and again, Jarrett hits/taps him as he releases the pass.  Then one of the most memorable defensive plays of the day.  It is 3rd and goal from the 2, big Jimmy Graham gets the pass and thinks he has an easy run in to the end zone.  Instead, he meets an unmovable force in Keanu Neal. Neal crosses the end zone, circles around Alford and a receiver and hits Graham so hard at the goal line, Graham is knocked back out to the 1.  There is an offensive holding call that moves the ball back to the 12.  Wilson is now running for his life.  Clayborn and Beasley both nearly sack him and as he lets the errant pass go, Jarrett is shoving him in the chest.  The Seahawks settle for a field goal.

Just when you think the momentum is fully on the Falcons side, the turn over, the big stop and forced field goal.  Now, the special teams strikes again.  The Seahawks have a short kick, which bounces right past Roberts, who then touches it, Seattle recovers and have the ball at the 11.  The defense trots immediately back on the field.  The d steps up again, knocking the first pass out of Baldwin’s hands.  Beasley trips Davis to slow him down for Trufant to make the stop.  Neal and Poole combine to stop Graham at the goal line again.  1st and goal at the 1, takes them 4 tries, and the D stands up, until Seattle takes a time out, comes up with a perfect blocking scheme and Wilson walks in for the touchdown.

The next kickoff, the Falcons special teams was a little more prepared.  Ben Garland received the kickoff and returned it 11 yards.  The first play is a beautiful pass to Sanu, who is shoved out of bounds before the ball arrives.  He gets the PI and the ball is moved up 16 yards.  Then the collapse begins.  Eric Saubert has a false start, moving the ball back.  Coleman has a 4-yard run, then on a pitch back is stopped behind the line of scrimmage.  Coleman then has a nice 15-yard pass, gaining most of those yards after the catch behind a good Hooper block.  Sanu catches a big 21-yard pass at the 21 as the 2 minute warning comes.  Unfortunately, the Falcons could not continue the quick movement and settled for a 44-yard Matt Bryant field goal.

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Grady Jarrett Does Not Bite on Fake Punt 

Now, for the craziest drive of the game.  Again, Bosher kicks off to the 2 and Lockett runs it out to the 41 where he is met by Kemal Ishmael.  With 58 seconds on the clock, Wilson has quick passes to Graham for a 4-yard gain, out jukes Beasley for a big first down.  Throws to McKissic in the end zone where Jones has perfect coverage and as McKissic’s hands went up, so did Jones’ and his finger tips knocked the ball out of alignment.  Wilson overthrows Graham, then scrambling, way back in the backfield gets hit by Takk as he releases the ball, but Richardson did not have the first down.  The field goal team comes on, they try the fake, but Jarrett sniffs it out, picks Luke Willson up, spins him around and lays him down for a 4-yard loss.

The teams go in for half time with the Falcons leading 24 to 17.  Life is good.

The second half began with a Bosher kick and a return only to the 28, so that was a half time improvement.  Wilson starts with a high pass to Thompson which Alford knocks out.  Everyone is applying such great pressure to Wilson that he has a fake handoff to Davis, then throws a screen to Davis who gains 21 yards.  On a 24-yard pass to Richardson that is tightly defended by Alford, he is called for the PI.  Next play, Alford has a good pass knocked out.  Then on 2nd and 4….here comes Grady!!!  He slaps the hands of the right guard as he goes past for an 8-yard sack.  After a short pass to McKissic, Seattle settles for another field goal.

Once again, just when you think the momentum is going one way, it flips to the other team.  In 8 plays and under 4 minutes, the Falcons score another touchdown, on a 25-yard pass to a wide open Levine Toilolo.  Ryan showed his scrambling ability by running and sliding for a 14-yard gain, with former Falcon Dwight Freeney in hot pursuit.  Earl Thomas was called for a hit on a defenseless player, so the Falcons got the touchdown and an extra 15 yards on the upcoming kickoff.

Bosher kicks it out of the end zone.  Immediately, Wilson connects with a wide-open Richardson for an 18-yard gain.  Then fakes it to Lacy and runs 17 yards himself, as Campbell slips on the wet field.  McKissic meets Takk again after a 4-yard gain.  Takk almost gets to Wilson, while Beasley gets his hands on Wilson, meanwhile there is also an offensive holding penalty on the play.  The D is really roughing up the offensive line.  Clayborn, on a mission chases the elusive Wilson, who escapes his grip twice.  Wilson outurns Jarrett and Beasley and slides out of bounds at the first down marker.  The 1st and 10 has Wilson scrambling and over throwing Willson.  Then 2nd and 10 has the pocket collapse with Ishmael and Derrick Shelby combining for a 12-yard loss.  After another perfect Alford defended pass, Seattle settles for a 46-yard field goal.

The 3rd quarter ends with the first pass of the day to Taylor Gabriel, Coleman with a 5-yard stutter run, and a 7-yard reception by single covered Jones.  Terron Ward has a first down catch then 9-yard run to open the 4thquarter.  Then the typical 4th quarter meltdown begins.  A side throw for 2 yards to TE Hooper, a false start by Andy Levitre, a short 5-yard pass to Gabriel leads to a 4th and 13 and a punt.  Good news, the punt was fair caught.

The defense causes a quick 3 and out when Baldwin did not catch the 3rd down pass.  Seattle challenged the play and lost a time out.

The Falcons quickly drive back down the field on the backs of Coleman and Ward, both earning their pay with stiff arms, breaking tackles.  With a 3rd and goal, Coleman spins off the stacked up offensive line to the end zone.  It is reviewed by the officials and determined that he was 6 inches short.  Bryant makes yet another field goal.

Under 4 minutes to go in the game, the Falcons are up 34/23.  Yet, the game is not safe with Russell Wilson on the other side.  In a few plays, Wilson runs for a first down, finds Graham across the middle, McKissic shows off his running skills, and with the help of an accidental hit out of bounds penalty, Wilson finds Baldwin wide open in the end zone.  Then Graham has an easy 2-point conversion in the corner of the end zone.

Now there are 3 minutes remaining, and the Falcons have a 3-point lead.  They prepare for the onsides kick with the hands team up, but Seattle kicks it deep to Roberts.  Coleman comes blasting up the left side behind FB Derrick Coleman.  Then T. Coleman is tripped up behind the line.   Immediately following the 2 minute warning, Wes Schwietzer gives up a big sack forcing another Bosher punt.

The punt is short, but bounces and the coverage team is there and Marvin Hall lays Lockett out.  There was also an offensive holding penalty to back Seattle up a little more for their final stand.  Trying to not give up the big play, the defense has a 3-man rush through the rest of the game.  Graham gets 11 yards, Clayborn hits Wilson as he throws an air ball that is nearly hauled in by Poole.   Then, Clayborn runs up causing Beasley to jump and give the Seahawks a free play.  Trufant blocks a pass intended for Graham, then Wilson scrambles for another first down.  With time dwindling, Wilson has an 8-yard toss to Richardson who is tackled by Alford and Neal, who try to wrestle the ball away.  Since the Seahawks are out of time outs, Wilson has to spike the ball at the 34 with 7 seconds remaining on the clock.  Blair Walsh attempts a 52-yard field goal, which falls a few feet short and the game is over.  The Falcons have won and moved into 6th place in the NFC.

Injury News:  Keanu Neal left the game temporarily, was evaluated and returned at least 98% as he was continuing to lay out Keanu type hits.  Late in the game, Brian Poole was shaken and slow to get up, but was fine by Tuesday.  Devonta Freeman remains in concussion protocol.  Matt Bosher’s ankle caused him to miss practice on Wednesday.

Iron Falcon:  Grady Jarrett ended with 2 tackles and a sack on the day, however, Jarrett was hugely effective once again.  He was close or hitting Russell Wilson all day, causing errant or quick throws.  Jarrett is the fastest 305 pounder you will see, is smart and quick to think and spot what is happening in front of him.  And remember his sniffing out the fake field goal before the half.  It was not merely a stop of Seattle getting the first down, but a complete read of the situation and stuffing the runner for a huge loss.  And, huge boost going into half time.

#RiseUp

 FalconAlley Owt

Posted in Gameday Goods

Falcons Team Rolls Cowboys

November 15, 2017

Dallas at Atlanta

The defense continues to run on all cylinders and getting hotter.  Similar to last year, the later in the season it goes, the better the defense plays.  Clearly, the standout for the game was Adrian Clayborn and his 6 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.  Clayborn surpassed the great Chuck Smith and legendary Claude Humphrey who both had 5 sacks in a single game.  Only Derrick Thomas has more sacks in a game.  Claybo was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

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Claybo on Dak – Photo Credit:  Atlanta Falcons

And the best, not only on the sideline, but in the locker room after the game, Clayborn just looked like he had an average tackling or blocking game.  His team, especially the defense was out of control excited for him.  Literally jumping on him after his 6th sack.  In Coach Quinn’s locker room recap, he rattled off some stats, said, “Guess that is about it for the day” and the entire locker room started yelling “AC AC AC.” What a truly great brotherhood.

But what about the rest of the defense?  Well, second year, fourth rounder, De’Vondre Campbell amassed 11 tackles.  Talk about stepping up.  Campbell has made great strides all season, covering top tight ends, defending the run, making life hard on quarterbacks.

This was truly a defensive win and Claybo would be the first to say so.  This physical unit contributed to Clayborn’s sacks.  Desmond Trufant and Campbell were covering and knocking receivers off their marks.   Keanu Neal was a huge factor on the run this week.  Everyone was sticking to their assignments, forcing Dak Prescott to run and covering so well he was holding the ball too long.

Neal had 5 tackles, while team leader in tackles, Deion Jones only had 4 tackles Sunday.  Takk McKinley, Brian Poole, and Brooks Reed had 3 tackles a piece, Takk also had a fumble recovery and Brooks a sack of his own.  Dontari Poe also had a sack, and as usual, he and Grady Jarrett were disruptive in the backfield, including causing a few actual called holding penalties.  Sean Weatherspoon is back and contributing, while only logging a single tackle on the day, Spoon was running around, looking fast and affective.

Dallas has allowed 10 sacks all season, but they “allowed” 8 in the Benz Nest.  Of the 59 defensive plays, 21 went for 0 or negative yards.  They had 10 quarterback hits (besides all the sacks).  Poe jumped in as the most un-stereotypical fullback.

Then, there is the offensive line.  They do not get the same accolades as the defense.  Alex Mack, is, well, Alex Mack.  No complaints there.  Jake Matthews allows, maybe even helps take down Matt Ryan as the Dallas defender rolls up on Ryan’s leg, forcing a third down.  Then, after a time out, Ryan Schraeder allows a big sack.  This offensive line held up Sunday, actually limited holding calls, but needs to get much better to keep Ryan on the field and healthy and create running lanes for Tevin Coleman, Devonta Freeman, and now Terron Ward.  We need to replace a couple of these guys with Dontari Poe and Ben Garland.  But that is none of my business.

The offensive stars played well and looked to be in a good (2016) rhythm with Ryan passing to 7 different receivers, two having receiving touchdowns.  Taylor Gabriel was actually targeted this week with 3 receptions for 58 yards, and 1 impactful rush of 15 yards.  Julio Jones had 6 catches for 57 yards, followed by Austin Hooper with 6 receptions, including back to back catches leading to a touchdown.

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Justin Hardy Touchdown – Photo Credit Atlanta Falcons

Mohamed Sanu had an awesome day blocking downfield and making other plays possible, but also caught 3 balls for 29 yards, and of course had the tip for an interception.  Note, Sanu was being tackled for the no call PI, and made the tackle to stop the Dallas defender.  Levine Toilolo and Coleman also had a catch a piece, while Justin Hardy had 2 catches, one for a fabulous back of the goal line touchdown.  Prior to Sunday, Hardy had 10 catches the whole season.

Devonta Freeman went out after 2 plays with a concussion, which may have fired up the other running backs to compete in his stead.  Coleman had 20 rushes for 83 yards and a touchdown, behind Poe and Garland.  Ward had 9 rushes for 23 yards and a break out of 17 yards.

The offense was 7 of 11 on third down, most of the non-conversions were late in the game.  The Falcons went 3 of 4 in the red zone and ended overall +1 in the turnover margin.

And then, there is Matt Ryan.   He was 22 of 29 for 215 yards and 2 touchdown passes.  He is also the fastest quarterback to pass for 40,000 yards….only his 151st start.  Ryan not elite???  It took Drew Brees 152 games and Dan Marino 153 games, and Ice was over 40,000 early in the 3rd quarter.  Also, Ryan moves into 19th overall in yards behind Joe Montana and Johnny Unitas…and just ahead of Aaron Rodgers.  Ryan also has at least one touchdown pass in 28 straight games, a first in Falcons history.

Finally, we are convinced that the Falcons have their groove back.  Hopefully, it is not too late with the 3rd best record in the NFC South.  We still get to play the Saints twice and the Panthers once more, but here’s hoping that this week was the official turnaround of the season and not just a great home win.

Shout out to the crowd, as Prescott noted that the crowd noise was making it difficult to hear during parts of the game.

#RiseUp

FalconAlley Owt

Posted in Gameday Goods

Welcome To The Claybo Sack Show

November 12, 2017

Dallas 7 at Atlanta 27

By Allison Smith
So, the game starts as usual.  Off-setting penalties, then an exciting interception by the little heard from this season Desmond Trufant, but that is overturned due to a defensive penalty.  So early, you already know how the game is going to go.  But wait, the headline makes it sound like a better than average Falcon game.  And it lived up to the hype.

Sean Weatherspoon is back and starting again.  Trufant seemed already on his game like the Tru of 2016.  Rookie Takk McKinley has several tackles for a loss in the first series, so Takk is coming in to his own as well now.  We all know the defense has been doing their job this season, missing some tackles, but playing so much in the game, tiring out by the end.

Then, the storyline of the day, that you don’t know is the storyline this early.  Adrian Clayborn, who has definitely returned healthy this season, has a sack, for a big loss and to cause a long 3rd down.  On the 3rd down play, Claybo hits Dak Prescott as he releases the ball, that goes into the ground.  The Cowboys punt and the Falcons begin their opening drive on their own 15.

After 2 hapless Devonta Freeman runs, the referee steps in noticing that Free is wobbly, but not mentioning anything to the team – as is Free’s normal.  We now know that Freeman already has a concussion on the season, and he did not play again on the day.  On the next play, the Cowboys defender, hugging Mohammad Sanu, tips the pass which is intercepted by another Cowboy, giving them the ball on the 21-yard line.  I think this is when I tossed down my 3rd drink of the day.

The Cowboys take over and the first pass was tipped by Deion Jones and could have been intercepted by Ricardo Allen, as he was reading Prescott’s eyes very well.  A couple of plays later, Prescott, running for his life from Takk, while the receivers were covered, runs in for the touchdown.  The good news is, now, we know that is the only score for the Cowboys.

The first play of the 2nd offensive drive for the Falcons is a pass to Julio Jones.  Catching, in typical Ju form, double covered and still hauling in the pass.  Then, Matt Ryan begins the 2016 campaign of spreading the ball around.  Mohamed Sanu, Austin Hooper, Tevin Coleman running.  Maybe Freeman coming off the field inspired the offense to step up.  This drive stalled and required a Matt Bryant 50-yard field goal, so guess his injury from the previous week is as good as healed.  At the end of the first quarter, the Cowboys lead 7-3.

The defense was really making it difficult for the Dallas O all day.   On a long 3rd down, Prescott begins to run again and is met by, Claybo, yet again behind the line of scrimmage, for the 2nd sack of the day.  The Cowboys set up to punt, but instead attempt a pass, which was called back due to offensive pass interference and end up punting anyway.  Back at the 42, Chris Jones punts the ball, that again Andre Roberts lets go over his head, where a Cowboy is already standing to down the ball and the offense gets to start yet another drive from their own 2.

An immediate pass to Julio at the 12 for a first down shows that Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian has finally found the good play book that has been hidden away.  Again, spreading the ball out to Coleman, Sanu, and Levine Toilolo.  After a time out, clearly a confused offense, Demarcus Lawrence easily shoves by Ryan Schraeder to sack Matt Ryan forcing a 4th down punt.

The Cowboys start at midfield due to a good punt return, but the defense stands up, forces loss of yards.  Then, not wanting to be outdone, Dontari Poe comes over from the right side and lays Prescott out.

Taylor Gabriel starts the next drive on a misdirection handoff and a good Toilolo block, Turbo gains 15 yards.  Then Jake Matthews has a penalty that negates the clobbering Ryan took because Schweitzer allowed two defenders easily by him.  Coleman finally has a good run that gets additional yards based on being tackled by his helmet.  Sanu sets up the defender, sets the angle for Ryan, who double clutches to see when Sanu is ready and makes a big catch leading into the 2-minute warning.  Now, at the 15 with Terron Ward in the backfield, Ward runs up the middle for a couple of yards.  Guess we should be happy Ward was even active this week with the injury to Freeman.  Gabriel is hugged and stopped from getting to the end zone pass.  With the pass interference penalty, the ball is moved to the 2.

Now, the fun begins. Dontari Poe is in at full back….now THAT is a FULL back.  Also, Ben Garland is in on the line finally.  Julio and Gabriel are both on the sideline, in case you think this is going to be a big pass play.  This time, Poe makes a big enough hole and Coleman pushes in for the touchdown.  Meanwhile, Garland has also moved his guys into the end zone as well.  If anyone wants my improved line up suggestions.

With a minute and a half to go, the Cowboys come out trying with big play attempts.  Trufant nearly gets an interception.  The next play, the entire defensive line nearly gets a sack, but the elusive Prescott manages to escape and make it to the sideline for a first down.  Flushed out again, Vic Beasley chases Prescott down for a 2-yard gain.  With Zeke Elliot out, apparently Prescott is the only runner and runs again for a first down.  Jason Whitten is finally targeted for a 6-yard reception and is pushed out by De’Vondre Campbell.  While still at midfield, Claybo sacks Prescott again, not even forcing a fumble, but stripping the ball out of Dak’s arms before allowing him to go to the ground.  Grady Jarrett’s arm was on Prescott’s back too, so there was not going to be any escape.

With only a few seconds going into the half and being near midfield, Ryan lobs it up a couple of times to no avail.  Going into half time with the 10/7 lead.

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Tevin Coleman Making Up for the Freeman Injury – Photo Credit: Atlanta Falcons

We start the second half by lighting it up.  A huge run by Coleman and 26-yard reception by Jones on the sideline quickly get the Falcons into Cowboys territory.  Then a big catch by Hooper is negated by a block in the back by Toilolo.  Gabriel, having his most targets of the season, makes an incredible catch down the middle after escaping coverage and sets the O up at the 8 with a first down.  Ryan, while being tackled, gets a pass to Julio who is being covered by 3 defenders.  Then, Justin Hardy makes a great move to escape the coverage, runs along the back of the end zone and gives Ryan the perfect touchdown target.

The Cowboys come out working the run pretty well for a couple of first downs.  Clayborn and Jarrett were closing, but Prescott is getting rid of the ball much quicker now.  Down in the red zone, Prescott drops back and has no clue that Clayborn has now left his feet and is about to land on him, for Claybo’s 4th sack of the day…so far….and a loss of 7 yards.  Campbell causes a loss of 2 on the next play.  On 3rd down, they cannot get back to the line of scrimmage.  The 38-yard field goal attempt dings the upright and falls out to the right.

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Turbo Showing His Speed Photo Credit: Atlanta Falcons

After taking over and a few short plays, Gabriel, with inside leverage, catches a 34-yarder across the middle, turns on his Turbo speed and goes.  Coleman gets a first down along the left sideline.  Down at the 15 with a first down, the 3rd quarter ends.  Hooper gets to the 1-foot line.  Poe is back in at fullback, then on play action, Hooper gets the 1-yard touchdown reception.

After a 2 yard loss caused by Deion Jones, an errant pass, it’s 3rd down….Claybo and Dak get together again.  This forces a punt from deep in Dallas territory, giving the Falcons the ball back near midfield.  Both Coleman and Ward blasting out big runs have the Falcons quickly in the red zone again.  Unfortunately, all the Falcons could manage was another successful field goal and the game is set at 27/7.

Really late in the game, Whitten final gets another big pass to move the Cowboys to the 35-yard line.  The next play is another errant pass based on a quick throw because of Clayborn swarming close.  In the annoying prevent defense, the Cowboys continue to drive down the field.  Clayborn almost has another sack, but falls/gets tripped.  Robert Alford and Trufant had great coverage of Dez Bryant all day.  With 3rd and 6 at the 20, Prescott is scrambling with Beasley and Clayborn on his heels.  With just over 4 minutes to go, the Cowboys have to go for it on 4th down.  Not to be forgotten for his early season game winning sack, Brooks Reed sacks Prescott, deep in the backfield, closely flanked by Beasley and Jarrett.  While, on the same play, there was offensive holding, which must have been the only thing keeping Clayborn for being back there too.

The next Falcon drive goes for nothing with runs up the middle and the Cowboy defense standing up, trying to get the ball back for their offense.  Little did they know what that would entail.

The 2nd play in the Cowboys final drive, Clayborn strip sacks Prescott.  Completely in the backfield, way behind Prescott, Clayborn knocks the ball out, Takk and Jarrett both see the loose ball and head for it, where Takk recovers the fumble, giving the Falcons offense the ball back.  Claybo is then attacked by Reed, Rocky, Debo, all jumping on him in celebration.  He smiles, walks over to the sideline like, “Another day another dollar.”

Dallas had utilized all of their time outs, Atlanta ran out the clock and the Falcons are officially back on track.  We hope.

 

Injury Report: Devonta Freeman, concussion, no updates yet.  Not yet ruled out against Seattle, but I would suggest unlikely.

Iron Falcon:  Obviously, Adrian Clayborn defensively.  Claybo passes the great Chuck Smith and legend Claude Humphrey who both tallied 5 sacks in a single game.  Clayborn’s 6 sacks not only set a Falcon record, but clearly took the Cowboys out of their passing game and without the running of Zeke Elliott, Prescott was left to run or pass really quick himself.

#RiseUp

FalconAlley Owt

Posted in Gameday Goods

Falcons In A Fog

Atlanta 7 at New England 23

October 22, 2017

By:  Allison Smith

And I don’t just mean the weather.  It seems that after the first New England score, the fireworks went up, and the fog came down.  From that point on, it was clear that the fog set in on the Falcons as well, taking over 90 minutes to score points from the previous game to just over 5 minutes left in this one.

The game started well enough.  The Falcons won the coin toss, deferred to the second half, and put their fast and physical defense on the field.  The Patriots had a 5-minute, 9 play drive that resulted in a forced punt short of midfield.  At this point, Deion Jones and Keanu Neal both were already amassing tackles and making their presence known.  Then, the Falcons offense came out….and….went 3 and out.  Again.  Then Matt Bosher comes out to punt.  Short.  Again.  Not to be a Negative Nelly, but this is likely when Falcon fans should have turned off the game and gone to bed.  We all know, they were going to refer to the Super Bowl 200+ times, so at best, we would be tortured to the end of the game, win or lose.

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De’Vondre Campbell’s Sack of Tom Brady – Atlanta Falcons

On the second Patriot possession, the first play, Tom Brady drops back and is immediately sacked by De’Vondre Campbell.  So, you start to think this may go well.  On 2nd and 17, Brady goes deep to Rob Gronkowski, who is called for offensive pass interference.  Suddenly, a couple plays later, the Patriots are punting again.

While everything is still looking positive, the Falcons take the field again.  Ryan fakes to Tevin Coleman, bootlegs to Julio Jones, who has a stretch run, gaining 16 yards.  Devonta Freeman and Coleman are sharing the load already.  On a 4th and 7 near midfield, Ryan drops back and looks, then takes off running to the right and gains the first down.  After a short Freeman run, have a play action pass to Mohammed Sanu for 19 yards over the middle.  A few plays later after a pass to Andre Roberts is knocked incomplete, Matt Bryant comes on to kick a 37-yard field goal….and Cassius Marsh comes between the left guard and tackle and blocks the attempt.  This is for sure your sign.  Good news, Ben Garland is in for special teams and ended the play after the Patriots recovered the blocked kick.

Again, first play of the Patriots drive is met with a sack.  This one, after a nice spin move by Vic Beasley, Jr., giving him his 3rd sack of the season.  Desmond Trufant stuffs the run, and the first quarter ends in a 0/0 tie.

On 3rd and 11, the offense draws Brian Poole and a speeding Grady Jarrett into the backfield, now on 3rd and 16, Brady finds Chris Hogan for 20 yards downfield.  And this is how the rest of the game would go.  Atlanta NOT converting on third downs, while New England had big gains on third downs.  Brady has a pass intercepted by Robert Alford in the end zone, it is nullified by a roughing the passer penalty (similar to last week, not a late hit, but head to head hit) by Adrian Clayborn.  On the sideline, Head Coach Dan Quinn asked what they called, and it seemed Claybo was confused on when you can still hit the quarterback, not realizing out of the pocket, he was still seen as a quarterback and could not be touched.  Now at the Atlanta 16, two plays later, the Patriots score the first touchdown of the game.

The Falcon offense comes back out aggressive.  Ryan fakes it to Freeman and throws a bomb to Julio, but his feet are tangled with the defender and it’s second down.  A pass behind the line to Taylor Gabriel, then hit a defender in the helmet, and Bosher is back on for a 49-yarder, where Justin Hardy hits the punt returner immediately.

The Patriots continue their drive, and again the Clemson tandem of Jarrett and Beasley combine for stop.  On the 2nd down, Beasley applies the pressure and causes a 1-yard pass play that Jarrett ends with a solo tackle.  Then Neal, watching Brady’s eyes, has a perfect pass knockdown in the end zone, causing a New England field goal.

With under 5 minutes until the half, the Falcons start their comeback drive.  Freeman has a nice 11-yard crossing the field gain, gives a little juke and has a great cutback, and then his speed kicks in.  The offense goes no huddle, 13 yards to Sanu, a 6-yard run by Freeman is called back with offsetting penalties, then the single target to Coleman is incomplete, and Ryan is sacked.  With 3rd and 20, Julio Jones catches a 14-yard pass for his 8007th receiving yard (2nd fastest to 8000 yards).  Sadly, the Falcons needed 20 yards, but with 4th and 6 to go, again, at midfield, the offense stays on the field.  A Ryan overthrow of Sanu gives the Patriots great field position with almost 2 minutes to go.  Seven plays later, the Patriots have their second touchdown of the game and take a 17/0 lead into the half.  The Falcons did have 3 offensive plays, but not enough to get far enough down the field for even a Bryant field goal attempt.

The Falcons received the ball in the 3rd quarter, marched pretty well down the field until being stopped at the 17 (just inside the red zone) and then had Bryant hit the goal post on the 37-yard field goal attempt.

Once again, Brady and team march down the field, passing to Hogan, running behind Dion Lewis, and with a 1st and goal, the defense stands up, allowing the Patriots down to the 1, where Beasley and Kemal Ishmael combine to push Mike Gillislee back to the 3, forcing another field goal.

With a heavy dose of Freeman (who in his 3rd game that I have notice running really angry), and some help from Jones, the Falcons move down the field.  On 2nd and goal, Sanu makes an awesome catch with double coverage and lands just outside of the end zone, 10 inches to be exact.  Then, instead of Freeman or Coleman up the middle, or even Dontari Poe passing the ball, or a Sanu 12 Gauge, Ryan throws low to Jones allowing Malcolm Butler to make a good play on the ball.  Then on a jet sweep to Gabriel, he loses 5 yards.  This playing in completely questionable, but also, the execution was poor, with the blockers for Gabriel being easily taken down.

With an entire quarter to play, you can already feel the stake to the heart.  The Pats drive down to the 20, where Poole makes the stop causing 4th down and the final field goal of the day.  With over 9 minutes remaining, the Falcons use over half of that time, and over 90 minutes since their last score, to finally find Julio Jones in the end zone.  Naturally, Ju makes a miraculous catch, snatching the ball out of the air and away from defenders.

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Julio Jones Snatching The Ball Out of the Air – Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta has an onside kick, recovered by the Patriots, who graciously only drove to the 17 where they took a knee from the 2-minute warning to the end.

Once again, there has been no offensive rhythm.  If Freeman has a few good runs, they pull him out and put in Coleman.  While I think they are both awesome running backs, and have crazy numbers, running in tandem, the team needs to pick a starter.  Let Freeman, the highest paid RB in the league, earn his money.  Let him tell you when he is ready for a break.  Use Julio Jones….MORE.  Make 3rd downs shorter.  The first half were 3rd and 11, 8, and 2.  Second half had 3rd and 16, 1, 8, and 9.  Successfully on 2 of 9.  Then, of course the famous 4th and 6 and 7s.

Freeman and Coleman combined for 88 yards.  Julio was a yard short of 100.  Sanu, welcomed back from his hamstring injury, was on fire with 65 yards, while others had 1 or 2 catches only.  Once again, the defense was on the field too long, but does allow them to run up stats.  Poe and Jarrett were both on the field for 77 snaps, Beasley for 47, Brooks Reed 45.  Campbell led the team in tackles with 8 total and the forced fumble on the sack.  Ishmael, who came in when Duke Riley went out injured, quickly amassed 9 total tackles, with Jones and Neal just behind with 11 and 10 combined.  The Clemson boys had 5 a piece, and of course, Beasley’s sack.

Overall, this game was a complete suck.  Even without the Super Bowl revenge, which clearly the team was not buying into, you would have thought they would have put on a better show.  Now, we watch, and wait.  See what the 3 game road trip holds.  They head up to the 3 – 4 Jets, who just got beat by Miami earlier in the day.  Then, to Carolina…which at least will be a home game for me, and many, many Falcon fans will make the 85 North trek.  Hopefully, the fog will be lifted by next Sunday.

Injury Update:  Deion Jones was dinged up, but returned to the game.  Duke Riley is having knee surgery and expected to be out at least 4 weeks.

Due to the Riley injury, Sean Weatherspoon is back, bringing a veteran presence and some spunk back to the locker room.  Let’s home this helps.

Iron Falcon:  If one can continue to be awarded on such a bad loss.  De’Vondre Campbell.  He tried to set the tone early with a big sack and pressuring Brady all day.  Julio Jones, for always being unselfish, getting to over 8000 receiving yards, nearly 100 yards on the day, and his first touchdown of the season, and not even caring because it was in a losing effort.

#RiseUp

FalconAlley Owt

Photos Courtesy of the Atlanta Falcons

Posted in Gameday Goods

Falcons Not Ready for Prime Time

Atlanta 7 at New England 23

October 22, 2017

By:  Allison Smith

Apparently, the Atlanta Falcons were not ready for Prime Time.  The long awaited Super Bowl rematch occurred on Sunday Night Football.  Except, even with all the questions, story lines, and hype, it truly was not a rematch.  The New England Patriots came in with 2 losses and the 32nd ranked defense.  The Falcons came in…off back to back winnable losses and played their worst game of the season.

The Patriots started with the ball, had an 11-play drive, encompassing 5 penalties between the 2 teams.  Very sloppy start on both sides.  The Falcons defense forces the punt and seem to have a good plan on the night.  Then, the offense goes 3 and out.   Once again, before the defense can even sit down, they are back on the field after a Matt Bosher 35-yard punt.

That’s right, not only did Bosher have another bad punt this week, Matt Bryant had one field goal blocked and another hit the goal post.  That should have really been your clue this game was over early.

The Patriots really did not do anything spectacular, except stay on the field.  Which we have found is incredibly affective.  You don’t give Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Devonta Freeman a chance to explode.  You tire out the defense.  So, it doesn’t take allot to outscore the Falcons.  The defense was able to force 3 field goals.

On the good side, Ju finally got his first touchdown of the season.  Which I am sure means more to statisticians than to Julio, it was so late, too late in the game to help.  Julio also reached 8000 yards, the 2nd fastest receiver to do so.  Defensive positives include a big sack by De’Vondre Campbell for a 7-yard loss on NE’s second drive, a Vic Beasley, Jr. sack, and a Robert Alford interception, which, was of course returned on a defensive penalty.

The story of this week is the question of what has happened to our Falcons?!? The entire NFL seems to be in a vortex of confusion this year.  Except for Cleveland and San Francisco (both still winless), everyone else is up and down any given week.  If a team started off undefeated, they’ve had 2 losses, if they started off in the hole, they are on a win streak.

So, the Falcons are not out of anything yet, even sitting in third place of the NFC South.  Luckily, they have not played anyone in their division…yet.  In 2 weeks, they start with the Panthers, who are suffering their own woes.  Apparently, both teams’ set of fans are calling for the heads of their respective Offensive Coordinators.  Mike Shula, who has been with the Panthers as long as Cam Newton, while Steve Sarkisian is in his first season with the Falcons.

The real confusion seems, we heard that Ryan greeted Sark on Day 1 with a hand shake and the current playbook.  Seems that Sark lost that, and Dan Quinn doesn’t have his to share.  With all of the offensive weapons at his disposal, Ryan should be able to have more success than he is having so far.  Ryan admitted he is not playing his best, yet, and there are some throws he would like to have back.  This week, one such includes the incomplete low pass to Jones in the end zone, that allowed the defender to knock it away.  In the simplest followship of the playbook, even I can remember that everyone got at least one pass a week.  Austin Hooper had 1 catch on his single target, and the former leading receiver, Tevin Coleman had 1 target.

Ryan and Quinn both commented on Monday, that they felt confident in the play calling throughout the game, including two 4th down attempts near midfield, and the 4th and inches jet sweep to Taylor Gabriel at the goal line.  Only 1 of those was successful. One has to question why you would go for a 4th and 7 and 4th and 6 at midfield, and why run a jet sweep to Turbo instead of rushing the best running back in the league up the middle in a short yardage situation.  Once again, my personal call for Ben Garland, this time as a full back opening the way for Free.  Freeman gained 47 yards after contact and forced 4 missed tackles on a mere 12 carries.  How do you not give him the ball at the goal line?

Apparently the issues with the offense is due to execution and inconsistency.  Ryan’s errant throws, tipped passes, missed blocks, dropped passes.   Without focusing on the run game, they cannot open up the passing game.  Once again, Coleman and Freeman did not have 100 yards rushing combined.

So far, in six games, Ryan has thrown for 300 yards, in one game.  Jones has had 100 yards, in one game.  Follow me here…..Freeman has rushed for over 100 yards….in one game.  There is clearly no offensive rhythm.  First and second downs are marginal at best, but converting on third down has become nearly impossible, as it is almost always 3rd and long.

Missed tackles, ill-timed penalties, lack of turnovers, i.e., inconsistency is haunting the defense as well.

I may not know what the answer is, but I think that many of us do not think anyone at The Branch does either.  Everyone seems to think they are having great practices, working the process, just need to fix these couple of issues.  Except these issues, are different every week.  The O did not turn the ball over, and the D had less missed tackles, which is execution.  But, are they really coming to the field as prepared as they should be?  Are these play calls the best for the members we have?

If so, how are the Atlanta Falcons, with only additions to the Super Bowl team, this chaotic and bad?

#RiseUp

FalconAlley Owt

 

Posted in Gameday Goods

Falcons, Their Own Worst Enemy

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!

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 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.

#RiseUp

FalconAlley Owt

Posted in Gameday Goods

Falcons Déjà Vu….the Bad Way

Miami 20 at Atlanta 17

October 15, 2017

By Allison Smith

First, sigh, shake your head, then relax, and try not to panic.  If you have been a Falcon fan since before the 2012 season, you know this is typical Atlanta Falcons football. Take the full 60 minutes and win, or break your heart.  Being a fan since the early 1980’s, I got use to this.  But then we got spoiled with the Mike Smith winning years, and last year with the Super Bowl run.  All is not lost.  We have the team to do this year, we just need to wipe out the mistakes.

Clearly we all know, the untimely penalties are killing us.  There were 6 for 73 yards this week.  A couple on offense to back us up, and of course the “roughing the passer” penalty on Grady Jarrett (clearly that is hogwash) that negated a Deion Jones interception late in the game.  In stadium, we never got to see the replay, but I think we all know that Grady would not hit someone late.  If Jay Cutler was just standing there, he’s gonna get hit.  Jarrett is a big guy, he can’t stop on a dime.

One note that likely everyone did not see, there was a defensive encroachment, so Cutler knew he had a free play, however, as he dropped back and scanned the field, preparing to throw, he saw a quickly closing Takk McKinley and downed the ball. Cutler must have seen Takk fighting linemen earlier and decided not to take that on himself.

Also, turnovers, not helping so much.  At least this week, Debo had a couple of picks and if you watched, the defense was definitely aggressively going for the ball.  On many of the gang tackles, because that is often what it took to make a tackle again this week, the defenders were actively reaching for the ball.  The Falcons offense ended with only 1 interception this week, but at the worst possible time.  Near the end of the game, driving for the win, a low pass to Austin Hooper was knocked out and intercepted by Georgia boy, Reshad Jones.  Hooper possibly could have fought harder for the ball, but Clemson boy, rookie Cordrea Tankersly made a good play to knock the ball out.  I am not less annoyed, but it not being yet another tipped pass for an interception is a slight positive.

I said, with 47 seconds left, and the ball on the 29, to let Matt Bryant do his thing and take the tie and see what overtime holds.  With the recent turnovers and red zone woes, I still think that would have been a good, logical idea.  Clearly, the Dolphins were playing for the tie, as they were not letting anything over the top.

Dontari Poe and Grady Jarrett were being double teamed again this week, but, along with others, getting major pressure on Cutler.  Many passes, he was not able to set his feet and you could tell with is passes.  Jarrett had 4 tackles, 1 combined with Clemson teammate Vic Beasley, Jr., while Poe only had 1 tackle, but also a key knockdown as well.  Who knew Poe could jump like that?!?

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On a happy note, highlight reel, Marvin Hall was moved to the active roster on Saturday and had a 40-yard touchdown reception on Sunday.   Sadly, he was only on the field a few more snaps
and did not have another reception.  Maybe, Hall would have been a good target on the day?

When you really knew the game was going downhill……early in the second quarter, the Falcons receive a punt, on 1st and 10 Andy Levitre has a false start, backing the offense up.  They go 3 and out, and I said, “At least we have Bosher, he will….oh crap.” Before I could finish my sentence, he hits a 37-yard punt that goes out of bounds at the Miami 44.  Later, Bosher had another short punt, 26 yards to the Miami 49.  We all know this is very unusual.  To add insult to injury, Josh Harris has the first horrible snap I can even remember, causing Bosher to try to run the ball…all of this happening at midfield.

In the end, the Falcons had 54 plays on the day and the Dolphins really controlled the tempo of the game, especially the run game, both sides.  Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combined for 18 carries and a total of 100 yards, exactly.  Freeman had one of 44 yards and Coleman a long of 20, so take those big runs away, and our rushing game was 36 yards.  THAT is not our kind of running game.

Again, within the fan base at least, there is question as to the use of Julio Jones.  While we realize he is often double teamed, Ju can catch nearly anything anyway.  On the opening drive, Julio was interfered with, i.e. tackled as he was attempting to catch a 12-yard pass on the sideline.  The PI was called and enforced, and if you noticed, Julio still caught the ball and would have come down with the pass anyway.  Julio caught 6 of the 7 times he was targeted, so he is healthy and reliable as ever.

With Mohamed Sanu still out with his injury, we finally got to see some good targets and catches for Justin Hardy and Taylor Gabriel, both of who stepped up and did a good job, combining for 73 yards.  I thought early on, this was going to be the Turbo Show.  Sadly, this still did not open up the much needed running game however.  And the Falcons scored no point in the second half.

I’m no coach and never played, but the defense comes out after half time looking gassed to start. I thought we were so fast and physical and deep.  I don’t know if running in and out is causing more trouble than letting guys play more consecutive plays.  But, I do know, we have too much talent on this team for missed tackles, tipped balls, and 17 points against a wayward Miami team.  Cutler had an all-star game compared to the entire first 4 games of his 2017 season.

I am always Falcon Faithful, but that doesn’t mean I am not frustrated right now.  Mark down my prediction for Sunday Night Football…..34/0.  I haven’t made up my mind if it goes to the Falcons or the evil Patriots….but I feel a blow-out coming one way or the other.  Forget the Super Bowl rematch, too much has happened and changed for both teams since that ill-fated night in February.

#RiseUp

 FalconAlley Owt

 

Posted in Gameday Goods

This One is on The O

Bills 23 Falcons 17

October 1, 2017

Cover Photo & Article by Allison Smith

I love our offense, I really do, but they were not firing on all cylinders Sunday while hosting the Buffalo Bills.  Granted Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu only played the first half, but overall, the offense was just not that explosive.  We put up 17 points, which is obviously only 2 touchdowns, a Devonta Freeman rushing touchdown and a dark horse, Justin Hardy 3-yard catch.

For the second week in a row, receivers were missing balls, tipping balls for interceptions, and this week, Matt Ryan had several wayward passes. Taylor Gabriel was on the field for 60 of the 75 offensive snaps and was targeted 5 times and had no actual catches.  That just isn’t right.

The Falcons received the ball to start the game, and we all assumed they would march down the field and score the opening score of the game.  Instead, 8 plays in to the game, Matt Bosher was on the field to punt.  Damontae Kazee got his first start with Ricardo Allen out under concussion protocol this week and performed well.  He’s no Rico, but combined for the second tackle of the day, then followed up with a single tackle a play later.  Overall, Kazee had a good day finishing with 8 tackles and a forced fumble.  On this same drive, Keanu Neal had one of his patented big hits, Derrick Shelby had a sack on Tyrod Taylor for a 9-yard loss, and Brooks Reed continued to be disruptive.  The defense forced a punt, after allowing the Bills to move to the Atlanta 38….and started their second drive of the game at their own one.  Thank you and welcome back to Atlanta, Patrick DiMarco.  We love you, but downing the punt on the 1 was unnecessary.

The teams traded punts back and forth the entire first quarter and finally, with just over 10 minutes left in the half, the Falcons were on the board with a Matt Bryant 28 yard field goal.  Problems in the red zone anyone?  Once again, we had a big Tevin Coleman gain of 29 yards, which everyone thought was going to the end zone, but alas, it did not and Coleman was stopped at the Buffalo 16.  Ryan did spread the ball around similar to the previous season, including a pass to Hardy, then a short pass to Sanu that he, literally, snatched over the defenders’ head.  Unfortunately, this was only to the 10-yard line with a 4th and 4 and the successful Bryant kick.

The Bills then answered with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Matthews in a quick 8 play drive.

Another punt for each team, catching the boring theme here, led to the Falcons final drive of the first half.  Coleman, quickly becoming a highlight reel, caught a 39-yard pass, got both feet and a knee down before falling out of bounds.  This call was challenged, and the play upheld.  Nick Williams was active and caught a 14-yard pass.  Finally, down to the 5-yard line, we pulled out the 12 Gauge with a direct snap to Mohamed Sanu.  Typically, this is called the Wild Cat, but the Falcons and Sanu clearly had to have their own name.  I submitted “BeanCat,” but Dan Quinn landed on “12 Gauge.”  Ryan went out left, tripping himself on his shoe strings, rolled back up and was ready to block.  Sanu received the snap, ran the ball himself for the 5-yard touchdown.  Which was reversed, so again, we did not get a good touchdown dance.  The next play, Freeman ran the ball in from the 1 and immediately headed to the sideline and gave the ball to Sanu.

The half ended not long after with the Falcons leading 10 to 7, Julio leaving slightly earlier, then he and Sanu not returning in the second half.  Jack Crawford was also injured and did not play the rest of the game.

The second half, Bosher booms another one into the end zone and the Bills start at their own 25.  Suddenly, Brooks Reed met Taylor in the backfield for a 9-yard sack, lighting up the crowd.  Two plays later, the Bills were punting.  The Falcons take over on their own 20 and after a couple of passes and hand offs, at 3rd and 9, Ryan drops back to pass and fumbles the ball, which is returned by Tre’Davious White 52 yards for a touchdown.  The play was reviewed and determined to be a fumble, not a forward pass (which not only fans, but the announcers believed) so the touchdown stood and suddenly, the Falcons are trailing.

So you are clear, this game was going downhill, on the ensuing kickoff, Andre Roberts fumbled, which was recovered by Ben Garland, but 5 plays later a Gabriel tipped pass fell into the hands of Micah Hyde anyway, giving the Bills the ball back at the Buffalo 12.  On the positive, it was a bomb, so they were deep in their own territory.

During this next long drive, Kazee forced a fumble, nearly everyone had a tackle on the 19 play drive and the defense stood up and stopped the Bills at the 1-yard line.  On fourth and one, the fans about busted the roof off the Benz Nest, causing a delay of game and forcing the Bills to settle for a field goal.

During the next drive, we cheered almost that loudly for a review confirming that Justin Hardy did NOT make a catch, as it was originally called a catch and fumble.  After some reliable Freeman running and Coleman catching, Ryan found, that’s right, Hardy in the end zone for a touchdown.  It is all tied up with 7 minutes to go and the Benz was feeling good, or at least hopeful again.  This is our kind of game…..the kind we pull out and win.

Sadly, that did not happen.  The defense, once again, stopped the Bills, causing a 56-yard field goal.  Three plays later, another tipped Ryan pass, this time by Williams, and another Bills interception.  This is when Grady and I took over.  I was screaming, literally,

Grady Jarrett Welcoming LeSean McCoy to The Benz Nest
Grady Jarrett Stopping LeSean McCoy – Photo Courtesy of Grady Jarrett’s Instagram

my lungs out.  Grady Jarrett met LeSean McCoy 4 yards behind the line of scrimmage, then 2 yards past the line, then met Taylor at the line for his third tackle in a row.  NOW, is when you knew we were going to win. Stephen Hauschka now makes a 55-yard field goal, with Ricardo Allen coming quickly on the left side.

The Falcons get the ball back with just over 3 minutes left in the game.  MORE than enough time for a Falcons team to do anything.  All we need is a touchdown.  There are incompletions, short passes, Ryan scrambling, a sack.  Finally, the Falcons are 1st and 5 at the 14, over throw Gabriel twice, a short successful pass to Austin Hooper.  Then, on 4th down, the final chance, another overthrow to Gabriel and the game is over.  The final salt in the wound, during that last play, Buffalo only had 10 defenders on the field.  Apparently none of the Falcons realized this to take advantage, so the Bills kneeled twice and the game, and the suffering was officially over.

And think we can all agree with Dan Quinn this week…..”Missed opportunities….first thing is ‘the ball’.”

Some notable stats, Tevin Coleman led the team in receiving and rushing with 65 and 79 yards respectively.  Freeman had 58 rushing yards, a long of 16.  Ryan completed passes to 9 receivers, Hooper had 5 for 50, Julio 3 for 30.

Takk McKinley had good pressure on Taylor, and while he did not register a tackle, he was disruptive and pursing.  Dontari Poe and Grady Jarrett were both being double teamed much of the day, as big and strong as they are, that is all you can do to stop these guys.  Yet, still, Poe had 5 tackles and Jarrett ended with 7.  Deion Jones led the team with 8 tackles and a sack, Kazee also had 8 tackles and a forced fumble, De’Vondre Campbell followed with a solid 5.

Good news, it is the bye week, which originally seemed early, but possibly came at the perfect time, providing rest for the injured and reflection time for all.  I don’t think we should be in full panic mode, but definitely need to get some stuff cleaned up and even more definitely need people healthy.  We were stacked at offensive weapons and defensive depth.  Now our top 2 receivers are injured, defensive line is down from 12 to 8, with 3 away games, including New England coming quick.  Defense has been keeping us in 3 of the 4 games, but that depth is depleting quickly.

Injury Report:  From Buffalo game:  Julio Jones – hip flexor, not expected to miss the Miami game.  Mohamed Sanu – hamstring, expected to be out 2 to 3 weeks. Jack Crawford – IR with bicep injury.  Lingering injuries:  Vic Beasley, Jr – hamstring, still to be determined based on practice next week.  Ricardo Allen & Ryan Schraeder – still under concussion protocol.  Courtney Upshaw – ankle, tbd.  Terron Ward – neck, tbd.

Iron Falcon Award:  I think we all know, Grady Jarrett is getting this one.  Through the game, Jarrett was double teamed, still disruptive, managed 7 tackles, 3 of which were back to back to back to single handedly force a 55-yard field goal attempt late in the game.

#RiseUp

FalconAlley Owt