For the first time since the tumultuous 2007 season, the Atlanta Falcons have lost three straight games.
Monday night’s 30-28 loss to the New York Jets was the Falcons’ second consecutive loss at home. It was the first time in Matt Ryan’s career he’s lost back-to-back home games.
The Falcons had Super Bowl aspirations after ending last season 10 yards shy of that goal. However, after falling to 1-4, those aspirations are all but shot. Just five games into the season, Atlanta has already lost more games than they lost last season, when it posted a 13-3 record.
Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith was a turnover machine heading into last night’s game, throwing eight interceptions and losing three fumbles on the season. Against the Falcons, he turned the ball over zero times and instead threw for three touchdowns while completing 80 percent of his passes.
After losing to the Jets (3-2), the Falcons are now 0-3 against the AFC East.
Smith looked comfortable and poised in the pocket, and that was largely because of a pass rush that was largely nonexistent.
Osi Umenyiora did manage to sack Smith twice and Corey Peters pitched in with a sack of his own. Undrafted free agent Joplo Bartu scored a technical sack by forcing Smith out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage. Other than those plays, the Falcons were able to generate little pressure.
The Falcons looked to recapture their comeback magic as Ryan lead a 10-play, 63-yard drive that was capped off with a three-yard touchdown catch by rookie tight end Levine Toilolo. The score gave the Falcons a 28-27 lead with less than two minutes remaining.
Smith responded by driving the Jets to the Falcons’ 25-yard line, and Nick Folk drilled the 43-yard field goal as time expired.
Roddy White looked to be returning to full strength, but a hamstring injury suffered in the fourth quarter prevented the wide receiver from returning to the game. He caught four balls for 45 yards.
Julio Jones was the Falcons’ top receiver, catching eight passes for 99 yards including a 46-yard, one-handed grab while he was interfered with by Antonio Cromartie.
Tony Gonzalez wasn’t far behind Jones as he had a game-high 10 receptions for 93 yards.
Ryan had another impressive game, completing 36 of 45 passes for 315 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The Falcons looked to have temporarily fixed their red zone woes as they converted on four of five red zone trips.
The failed red zone attempt looms large, though. Atlanta opted to go for it on fourth down at the Jets’ one-yard line with one second left before the half, but failed after Jacquizz Rodgers was stuffed on an attempted run up the middle.
It wasn’t the first time Rodgers was denied any yardage on a run up the middle, but the running back did rip off a 19-yard touchdown run to bring the Falcons within six in the fourth quarter.
Atlanta’s offensive line was terrorized by Muhammad Wilkerson. The defensive end was disruptive and strip-sacked Ryan to force a turnover deep in Falcons territory.
The Falcons’ seemingly invincibility at home has wavered a bit. With the bye week coming up, the Falcons have extra time to do a bit of soul searching, get a little healthier, and prepare for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.