Rapid Reaction: Atlanta Falcons
October, 7, 2013
By Vaughn McClure | ESPN.com
ATLANTA -- A few thoughts following the Atlanta Falcons' 30-28 loss to the New York Jets on Monday night:
What it means: With the loss, the Falcons fell to 1-4 and possibly out of the playoff picture. Not to say that they can't rattle off a long winning streak, but games remaining against the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers and rival New Orleans Saints will make that a very difficult task. This was far from expected from a team that finished 13-3 a year ago and fell one step shy of the Super Bowl.
Red zone remedy: Speedy running back Jacquizz Rodgers vowed to make more of an impact this week. He followed through on his promise with a 4-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and a 19-yard touchdown run in the fourth. Those scores were Rodgers’ first rushing touchdowns of the season. With Steven Jackson (hamstring) still ailing, the Falcons needed both Rodgers and Jason Snelling to step up. Snelling also had a 4-yard touchdown reception off a shovel pass from Ryan.
Stock watch: Tony Gonzalez continues to rise as he inches closer to retirement. He reached a milestone four plays into the game with his 200th consecutive game with a catch. Gonzalez ran perfect routes all night and blazed linebackers in one-on-one coverage. And he also drew a couple of penalties against the Jets. Gonzalez was Matt Ryan’s safety net on a key fourth-down conversion late in regulation.
M.A.S.H. unit: No matter the outcome Monday night, the Falcons suffered a few losses. Receiver Roddy White, who entered the game still recovering from a high-ankle sprain, exited with a hamstring injury and never returned. White caught four passes for 45 before leaving. Also, Snelling left with a concussion.
Decimated defense: The Falcons had a few moments on defense, but they still surrendered too many big plays. They gave up a 47-yard pass play from Geno Smith to tight end Jeff Cumberland in the first half. It was the eighth play of 40-plus yards given up by the defense this season. Then the defense absolutely fell apart on the Jets’ final drive, allowing the rookie Smith to drive his team down with ease to set up Nick Folk’s game-winning 43-yard field goal.
What’s next: The Falcons have a much-needed bye in Week 6, which should allow them to get somewhat healthy. Maybe Jackson returns for Week 7 as the Falcons face NFC South foe Tampa Bay (Oct. 20). But will it really matter now?