Team Grades: Falcons Blow Another Close Game
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By Matthew Asher
Anytime division rivals clash, there’s a certain amount of unpredictability that is unavoidable. On paper, the New Orleans Saints should have crushed the Atlanta Falcons. Of course, that’s why they play the games. Overall, Atlanta played a decent game but in the fourth quarter a few mistakes cost them a chance at victory as their NFC South rival swept the series for this season.
While the Saints weren’t overpowering, they didn’t play a terrible game, but it was a certain touchdown celebration by one Jimmy Graham that will have everyone talking for quite some time. Early in the second quarter, Brees connected with the 6-foot-7, 265-pound Graham for a 44-yard touchdown. After the score, Graham went to dunk the ball over the goal post. In doing so, Graham actually bent the goal post which required the game to be postponed for the maintenance crew to fix the bent post. Wow.
Matt Ryan gets a B
Matty Ice had a decent game. While he didn’t throw for any touchdowns, he didn’t throw any interceptions either and was able to complete 30 of 39 passes for 292 yards. Harry Douglas was his primary receiver, although Ryan completed passes to nine different Falcons.
Atlanta’s offensive line gets a D
Ryan was sacked a total of five times during the game for a total loss of 28 yards. In the third quarter he was sacked on consecutive plays. While nothing is set in stone yet, the Falcons appear to be in line for a top five pick in next year’s NFL Draft, and they should strongly consider using that pick on a talented guard or tackle to protect their franchise quarterback .
Atlanta in the fourth quarter gets a D-
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, trailing 17-13, Atlanta had driven the ball to the Saints 22-yard line. Matt Ryan threw a quick pass to Darius Johnson who unfortunately fumbled the ball which was recovered by the Saints. That wouldn’t be the only time that quarter the team would leave points on the field.
With less than three minutes left in the game, still trailing 17-13, Atlanta opted to kick a 52-yard field goal rather than go for it on fourth and 15. Unfortunately, placekicker Matt Bryant missed the field goal attempt. It was his only miss of the night after making his first three kicks.
Now with their Thursday game complete, Atlanta gets 10 days off before their next game. Although their opponent is the Buffalo Bills, the game will not take place in the state of New York, but in Ontario, Canada.
Kickoff is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. EST.
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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.