The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter & CineSport’s Justin Shackil break down the Falcons 10-7 victory over the Tennessee Titans, concerns about Matt Ryan and Devonta Freeman’s continued dominance.
The Falcons squeaked by the Tennessee Titans 10-7 to improve to 6-1 on Sunday at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.
Running back Devonta Freeman led the way with 130 all-purpose yards and backup free safety sealed the deal with a late interception while Matt Ryan continued to struggle and kicker Matt Bryant missed this third field goal in three games.
Here are the grades from the win.
Game balls: Robenson Therezie, who was demoted after the Saints games, came up with the game-saving interception.
Quarterbacks, C-minus. Ryan tossed two interceptions while completing 22 of 38 passes for 251 yards and one touchdowns. The Falcons were 5 of 14 (36 percent) on third down and were 1 of 3 (33 percent) in the redzone. It was their second lowest game on third down and tied for the worst game in the red zone. He finished with a passing rating 64.7, his second lowest mark of the season.
Running backs, B. Freeman rushed for 116 yards on 25 carries and average 4.6 yards per carry. Why Freeman didn’t get the ball on from the 1-yard lane on two plays must be explained by offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan when he addresses the media on Thursday. Tevin Coleman had three carries for 14 yards.
Wide receivers/tight ends, C. Julio Jones caught nine of his 17 targets for 92 yards and one touchdown. Roddy White and Nick Williams had three catches each. Tight end Jacob Tamme also had three catches. Backup tight end Tony Moeaki caught his first pass with the team.
Offensive line, C. Tackles Ryan Schraeder and Jake Matthews continued their strong play. But Matthews and left guard Andy Levitre both had drive-killing holding penalties. Center Mike Person returned to the lineup and had a solid game. The line didn’t give up a sack and only allowed one quarterback hit.
Defensive line, C. The Falcons held the Titans to 77 yards rushing after getting gashed early in the game by Antonio Andrews and Dexter McCluster. The pass rush was sub-standard, but they didn’t get Zach Mettenberger on the move and forced two interceptions. The Falcons blitzed 11 times to add the pass rush. They had been averaging nine blitzes a game.
Linebackers, C-plus: Justin Durant, playing with a brace on his left arm, led the Falcons with eight tackles and one tackle for loss. Paul Worrilow had four tackles and had an 84-yard interception return that was nullified by blindside blocking penalty on O’Brien Schofield. Brooks Reed is playing strong, but not posting up tackle stats.
Defensive backs, C. The Titans receivers were open with too much cushion. An established and accurate NFL quarterback would have hit the open receivers. Second-round pick Jalen Collins played 37 snaps (67 percent) in the nickel and Robert Alford slide down inside for Phillips Adams, who just played two snaps on special teams. Strong safety William Moore left the game with a groin injury. Free safety Ricard Allen finished with six tackles.
Special teams, C-plus. Punter Matt Bosher averaged 43.5 yards net and gross on four punts. He played two inside the 20 yard line. Kicker Matt Bryant missed a 47-yard field goal attempt wide right. He has missed three field goals over the last three games. Coach Dan Quinn said he’s not concerned about Bryant, who’s 37.
Coaching, C. The offensive numbers are steadily declining on third down and in the Redzone. The play-calling in the red zone must be address. After starting the season 10 of 13 in the redzone over the first four games, the Falcons are 5 of 10 (50 percent over the last three games. The coaches did elect to blitz slightly more against the inexperienced Mettenberger, who was making his seventh NFL start.
NEXT UP: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) fact the Falcons (6-1) at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome.
How did the Falcons get to 6-1?
Here’s a look back at the game stories, news and notes from their win over the Titans (10-7), the loss to the Saints (31-21) and their victories over the Redskins (25-19 in OT), Texans (48-21), Cowboys (39-28), Giants (24-20) and Eagles (26-24).
TENNESSEE GAME COVERAGE — Falcons 10, Titans 7
NEW ORLEANS GAME COVERAGE — Saints 31, Falcons 21
WASHINGTON GAME COVERAGE — Falcons 25, Redskins 19 in OT
TEXANS GAME COVERAGE — Falcons 48, Texans 21
COWBOYS GAME COVERAGE — Falcons 39, Cowboys 28
GIANTS GAME COVERAGE — Falcons 24, Giants 20
EAGLES GAME COVERAGE — FALCONS 26, EAGLES 24