LONDON – Since going to the NFC Championship game after the 2012 campaign, the Falcons are 6-18 and spiraling downward.
Owner Arthur Blank is clearly stewing.
The complete second-half collapse was full of blunders in all NINE phases of the game.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Mark Bradley, a real old-head, has been there for most of the Falcons’ games for nearly three decades. He called this “one of the worst-ever Falcons losses.”
“You’re up 21-0,” owner Arthur Blank told Bradley after the game. “There’s no way you lose that game — just no way. There’s nothing else I can say.”
The nine phases of football: Offense, defense, specials teams, coaching, cheerleading, pre-game stretching, face painting, halftime snacks and post-game celebrations/snacks.
GAME BALLS: Running back Steven Jackson rushed 18 times for 60 yards and became the 19th player in league history to rush for more than 11,000 yards. He only averaged 3.3 yards per carry, but he gave the Falcons a semblance of a rushing attack. On his first carry, Jackson surpassed former Falcons/Bucs running back Warrick Dunn (10,967) for 19th on the NFL’s all-time rushing list. He has 11,026 rushing yards in his career and is one of eight players in NFL history to post 11,000-plus rushing yards and 450 receptions.
C – Quarterback: Matt Ryan was 14 of 17 for 160 yards in the first half. He was 6 of 10 in the second half for 68 yards. He tied his season-low of 228 yards. He had two touchdown passes and one Brett-Favre-esque interception. He finished with a 108.3 pass rating.
D – Running backs: The Falcons rushed 26 times for 78 yards for a porous 3.0 yards per carry. The rushing attack didn’t do enough with 3:56 left to help the team run out the clock. Antone, the team’s most dangerous weapon out of the backfield, only received three rushes and no targets in the passing game.
D — Wide receivers/Tight ends: Julio Jones’ dropped screen pass played a role in the Lions’ comeback. Roddy White caught 5 of 6 targets. Harry Douglas caught 3 of his 5 targets and had a big third down catch that appeared to wrap the game up. Levine Toilolo caught his two targets for 26 yards. The Falcons were 3 of 4 on third downs in the first half and 1 of 4 in the second half.
C — Offensive Line: Undrafted rookie James Stone made his first career start. Also, Ryan Schraeder started at right tackle for Gabe Carimi. The long grass and soggy field helped the Falcons in the first half as Ryan was able to dissect the defense. Talent eventually won out over guts as the Lions sacked Ryan twice and got five quarterback hits. Carimi played as the Jumbo tight end.
C — Defensive line: Surprisingly, Malliciah Goodman started in place of Jonathan Babineaux instead of Jonathan Massaquoi, who was coming off the best game of the year for any of the defensive end/outside linebackers. There were no sacks and four quarterback hits.
B — Linebackers: Joplo Bartu and Paul Worrilow had five and four tackles respectively. Outside linebacker Kroy Biermann flushed Matt Stafford on one play and had a pass defensed. The unit did a good job of bottling up Detroit running back Joique Bell, who rushed for 39 yards on 14 carries. He had a long run of 9 yards.
D — Defensive backs: Second-year cornerback Robert Alford had another pass interference call, but picked up his third interception of the year. Dwight Lowery was a menacing force. He had a big hit on Detroit wide receiver Golden Tate that sent him out of bounds. Kemal Ishmael didn’t learn his lesson from the Chicago game when he was involved in a 74-yard Jay Cutler-to-Alshon Jeffery touchdown play. He let Tate get behind him and probably couldn’t gauge that rocket arms like Cutler and Matthew Stafford can get the ball deep. It may be time for Dezmen Southward to take over at free safety. You can’t let guys get behind you on third down-and-25. Ishmael was not seen in the locker room after the game.
C — Special teams: The Falcons talked about springing Devin Hester loose. He did have one punt return for 20 yards. He also had two kickoff returns for 44 yards. After the Falcons went three-and-out on their first possession of the second half, punter Matt Bosher got off a 29 yard punt that had Falcons personnel executives howling and banging on desks in the shared press area.
C — Coaches: The coaching staff clearly had the team ready to play. They jumped on the Lions, but didn’t put them away. Coach Mike Smith has to regret not at least trying to get into position for a field goal or at least for a Hail Mary heave at the end of the first half. His conservative call likely led to the laissez-faire approach to the start of the second half. He forget about one of the old boxing/coaching axioms. When you have the champ on the ropes you have to knock him out. That’s what he’ preached about at halftime in the locker room, but he didn’t do it himself with 1:14 left to play.
NEXT UP: The Falcons (2-6) play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-6) at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 9 in Tampa. The Falcons have a bye for this Sunday while Tampa Bay plays at Cleveland.
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