By Matthew Asher
Before tonight’s game against the New York Jets, Matt Ryan had never lost consecutive home games. Before tonight’s game against the New York Jets, Mike Smith had never lost three consecutive games. But thanks to the tandem of the of the other Smith and Ryan, as the saying goes, there’s a first time for everything.
Tonight was a must-win game for Atlanta. Already at 1-3 for the first time since 2007, it looked like the Falcons finally caught a break playing against the turnover-prone New York Jets and their rookie quarterback Geno Smith. After a heartbreaking 30-28 loss, this is without question this is the worst start for the Atlanta Falcons since the Matt Ryan/Mike Smith era began back in 2008.
This is one of those games where the statistics don’t tell the story of the game. Geno Smith was held to less than 200 passing yards and the Jets rushing game didn’t eclipse the 100-yard mark. For the first time this season, the Red Zone was not the Achilles Heel of the Falcons as they scored all four of their touchdowns inside the 20-yard line this week.
Tony Gonzalez and Julio Jones both get an A
Just like last week, Gonzalez was double covered for the majority of the game. He still finished with a game-high 10 receptions and 97 yards. A side note about Tony’s day: he has now caught at least one pass in 200 consecutive games. Only one other player has accomplished this in the history of the NFL – Jerry Rice, arguably the best wide receiver ever.
Julio Jones may have “only” caught eight passes for 99 yards, but since he was matched up with Antonio Cromartie nearly the entire game, he did everything he could including making a ridiculous 46-yard one-handed catch on Atlanta’s final drive of the night. In addition to his receptions, late in the first quarter Roddy White fumbled a catch but Jones was able to pick it off the ground and turn a possible Jets recovery into a 40-plus yard gain for Atlanta.
Atlanta’s defense gets a C-
On one hand, the Falcons did limit Geno Smith to just 199 passing yards and was able to prevent a New York opening drive touchdown despite blocking a Matt Bosher punt attempt. They also limited New York to less than 300 total yards of offense.
On the other hand, Smith finished the first half with just one incomplete and finished the game completing 80 percent of his pass attempts including all four passes for 37 yards on the final drive to set up the game-winning field goal.
Atlanta’s rushing game gets a D+
This one’s really tough to properly judge. Jacquizz Rodgers did score two rushing touchdowns, but he needed 14 rushing attempts to gain just 43 yards for an average of 3.1 yards per attempt. As a team, the Falcons didn’t fare any better gaining only 64 yards on the ground in 22 rushing attempts, averaging 2.9 yards a carry.
With Atlanta now at an abysmal 1-4, they will finally get their bye week before they host the 0-4 Tampa Bay Bucs in Week 7. Hopefully players with nagging injuries like Roddy White can make use of the off-week and players who have been out for a few weeks like Steven Jackson will finally be able to come back at full strength.
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.