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Atlanta’s Deja Vu: Falcons Blow Lead Late In 4th Quarter

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By Matthew Asher

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 22: Brian Hartline #82 of the Miami Dolphins catches a touchdown pass during a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Sun Life Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Brian Hartline #82 of the Miami Dolphins catches a touchdown pass (Credit, Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

If there was a way for the Atlanta Falcons to simply play the first half of a football game twice, they’d be one of the most feared teams in the NFL. Since that’s never going to happen, the Falcons need to learn how to close out the game early in the second half because a close loss like Sunday’s can kill a season.

This is one of those frustrating games because looking at the statistics, Atlanta didn’t do a bad job but couldn’t hold on to the lead. Falcons fans may want to take solace knowing that the team that denied them a trip to last year’s Super Bowl, the San Francisco 49ers, are also just 1-2.

The Good

Atlanta’s running game gets an A

Steven who? With Atlanta’s newest running back on the shelf for a few weeks, backups Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling did everything they could to give the Falcons the win. Rodgers and Snelling combined for 29 rushes totaling 139 yards. ‘Quizz picked up 86 rushing yards, a new career high and Snelling added four catches for 58 yards and a touchdown to give him 111 total yards.

Osi Umenyiora gets an A

Last week Osi recorded his first NFL interception, this week he was back to what he does best: sack the quarterback and force fumbles. Osi was responsible for two of Atlanta’s five sacks on Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill and one of the two fumbles he forced was recovered by Atlanta leading to a quick touchdown in the third quarter.

The Bad

The Falcons in the fourth quarter get an F

It’s become par for the course lately with Atlanta jumping out to a two-plus score lead in the first half and then giving it away in the second half. Atlanta’s one scoring drive in the final quarter was a decent 65-yard drive, but it only netted them a field goal.

Atlanta had the chance to put the game out of reach with a good 64-yard drive late in the fourth quarter, but after Matt Bryant missed a 35-yard field goal (after making a 52-yard kick earlier in the game). After the missed field goal, Miami was able to drive the ball 75 yards in 13 plays to score the eventual winning touchdown with less than a minute to go.

The Ugly

Atlanta’s special teams get a D

Kicker Matt Bryant made his first three field goals but shanked his fourth attempt late in the fourth quarter. Until that kick, Bryant had made his last 16 field goal attempts. Matt Bosher had just two punts and the first one was a disaster. With Miami going all-out for a block, Bosher’s kick went just 30 yards. Add a 10-yard holding penalty and it was a net punt of just 20 yards.

The return game for Atlanta wasn’t any better. Harry Douglas had three punt returns netting just three yards. The costly one came late in the third quarter when Douglas was hit during the return and fumbled it, setting up Miami inside Atlanta’s 20-yard line which was converted into a touchdown just three plays later.

Atlanta returns to the Georgia Dome September 29 where they will host the 3-0 New England Patriots for Sunday Night Football. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30 pm ET.

For more Falcons news and updates, visit Falcons Central.

Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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