Our hometown Atlanta Falcons after such a euphoric win a week ago against the hated New Orleans Saints, got a dose of reality as they traveled to Cincinnati and got beat handily by the Bengals by the score of 24-10. For the Falcons there is not much that the team can take away in the positive column and the coaching staff will have to regroup in a hurry to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night.
One tried and true formula of giving yourself a chance to win in the National Football League is having a good running game on offense and playing outstanding, physical defense. The Bengals proved why that formula is a great one to rely on as they held the prolific Atlanta Falcons’ Offense in check. From the very beginning the Falcons were not able to press the Cincinnati Defense and their vaulted pass rush led by Defensive Tackle Geno Atkins kept Quarterback Matt Ryan at bay going 24 of 44 with 231 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions after a record setting performance just last week.
The running game for the Falcons was decent, led by Steven Jackson who rushed for 46 yards on 11 carries but it was often abandoned on what I consider “forcing” of the ball to Wide Receiver Julio Jones for the “big play”. Head Coach of the Cincinnati Bengals Marvin Lewis is was no stranger to most of the staff of our Falcons and the make up of this team so the game plan was to not let them beat them vertically and the plan was flawless, essentially taking them out of their element of creating “explosive plays”.
Early in the ball game Wide Receiver A.J. Green for the Bengals left the game with a toe injury which could have been a gift defensively, however the lack of a pass rush again for the Falcons and not being able to keep Cincinnati Running backs Giovani Bernard and Rookie Jeremy Hill in check created the ability for the Bengals to be two dimensional and offensively they were still able to make big plays in the passing game, especially with Mohamed Sanu throwing for yardage and catching a long touchdown pass. The inability to create any pressure on a quarterback is continuing to plague the Atlanta Defensive unit, because no matter how strong a secondary is they cannot cover forever. I give benefit of the doubt because the defensive unit is so young and can get better but the sense of urgency is indeed now.
On Thursday, the Falcons will hopefully regroup against another NFC South Rival in Tampa Bay who comes in with a similar game plan as the Bengals in that they want to run the football and play good defense. The Falcons must sure up the offensive line who did not play too badly despite the score and take the reins off the young pass rushers to get back on track.
Jamie Walker is a Producer and Blogger for Sports Radio 92.9 The Game Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter @coachjdub21 or by email at Jamie.Walker@cbsradio.com.