Short takes: Falcons have season’s best win by longshot (UPDATED)

Devin Hester’s punt return for a touchdown was wiped out by a disputed facemask penalty. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Devin Hester's punt return for a touchdown was wiped out by a disputed facemask penalty. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Devin Hester’s punt return for a touchdown was wiped out by a disputed facemask penalty. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

(Updated with comments from Devin Hester.)

Here’s a link

Well, where did that come from?

Here’s a link to my game column on the Falcons’ 29-18 win over Arizona. Below are my three “short takes” on the game:

1. A fan would ask, “Was it them or was it us?” OK, so Arizona did not play like a 9-2 football team. The Falcons had 17 points on Arizona’s defense just over nine minutes into the game and the Cardinals’ offense, now under the direction of backup quarterback Drew Stanton with Carson Palmer out for the season, mostly looked dreadful. But give the Falcons’ credit. They had more than 500 yards in offense. They played by far their best game of the season, particularly defensively. For the first time this season, they beat an opponent with a winning record — and an opponent outside the division. The defense appeared to get a life from the return of safety William Moore, who had been sidelined for seven games with a shoulder injury. Dwight Lowery and Josh Wilson had interceptions and Desmond Trufant had a fumble recovery. If this is an aberration, we’ll find out soon. Next opponent: Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

2. If you were looking for Julio Jones, there he is: There has been some debate about what level of commitment the Falcons should make with wide receiver Julio Jones. The team has picked up a $10.176 million option for the 2015 season but it’s believed/assumed the they would prefer to lock him up with a long-term deal. However, the fact Jones had not been having a great season — eight dropped passes (via Pro Football Focus), lost two fumbles and four touchdowns in the first 11 games including seven straight without one — led some to wonder if the team would be better served spending their money elsewhere. But Jones had his best game of the season against Arizona. Actually, he had the best game of his career: 10 catches for 189 yards and a touchdown. He had eight catches for 132 yards and a 32-yard touchdown in then first half alone as he frequently torched Arizona’s Patrick Peterson. The two had words through the media during the week and were rivals in college days.

3. Devin Hester says refs admitted they blew call on punt return: Falcons punt returner Devin Hester had a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown nullified by something you rarely (if ever) see — a facemask penalty on the player with the ball. Replays showed that Hester indeed stiff-armed punter Drew Butler in the face near the Arizona two-yard line. But it was just as clear that Butler pulled Hester’s facemask. After the game, Hester said officials admitted they blew the call: “I didn’t agree with it. I felt like he grabbed my facemask and there was a misread by the ref. Several plays later they admitted that. It was an opposite call. Too late then.” Asked if the official who made the call admitted the mistake, Hester said: “The one that called it said when they sat down and talked about it a couple of plays later, it was supposed to (go) the opposite way.” At the very least, officials should have called offsetting penalties, nullified the return and had the Cardinals punt again. Instead, Hester and special teams coach Keith Armstrong (unsportsmanlike conduct for arguing) both drew 15-yard penalties, leaving the Falcons with a first-and-25 from the Arizona 32. They ultimately kicked a field goal.


A recent writer’s dozen from the digital jukebox
— MyAJC: This Georgia season was just another big tease
— AJC: Georgia ‘short takes’ on loss to Georgia Tech
— MyAJC: As Georgia loses SEC title shot, Tech suddenly has higher ceiling
— AJC: Missouri wins SEC East — will it affect Georgia?
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Dogs win, Falcons lose, toys devolve
— AJC: Tech’s Johnson long overdue for contract extension
— MyAJC: Tech’s season a loud response for Johnson’s critics
— AJC: First-ballot thoughts: Smoltz should join Maddux, Glavine
— AJC: Georgia vs. Georgia Tech: Which team has had better season?
— MyAJC: Gurley’s injury should prompt change in NFL draft rule
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: The straight poop–Georgia wins SEC East, Falcons lose
— AJC: Is Braves’ pursuit of Lester realistic?
— AJC: Braves trade Jason Heyward and John Hart just took huge risk
— MyAJC: It makes no sense but Falcons are in first
— AJC: Short takes on Falcons’ win over Panthers
— MyAJC: Dogs have a statement win, now hope for best with Gurley
— AJC: Short takes on Georgia’s win and Gurley
— MyAJC: As hoops open, Tech looks far more ready than Georgia
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Dogs, Jackets cross bridge, Falcons back to normal
— MyAJC: Ladies and gentlemen Georgia vs. Georgia Tech (in basketball, yes now)
— AJC: If Georgia wins out, would it sway playoff committee?
— MyAJC: All eyes are on Gurley (even if you can’t find him)
— AJC: Hart should deal both Uptons and Gattis
— MyAJC: Falcons’ division hopes hinge on beating teams other than Bucs
— AJC: Short takes on Falcons’ win over Tampa Bay
— MyAJC: If Georgia Tech has come together, we’ll find out against Clemson, UGA

 

Reader Comments 0

38 comments
buztech
buztech

The Falcons are the best field goal kicking team in the NFC.  Not so much for scoring TDs.

Dman
Dman

The Refs made 3 blunders yesterday that cost us some more points.This game was not as close as the final score indicated. We dominated a team with key injuries. This proves that the next man up theory doesn't work when key people get injured because the next man up is a backup who will play like a backup. Why do you think we have had two tough seasons in a row. Answer, key injuries...

GWJ0525
GWJ0525

Good win yesterday. Yes the Cards had some injuries but all team do this time of year. That excuse doesn't work for them just like it didn't work for the Falcons. If the Falcons are getting to where they need to be, they will play Green Bay tough, but likely still lose, but then take care of business against Pittsburg the only NFC north team the south teams can beat, and Carolina. Then it may all come down to the game in New Orleans which would be fun.

vpdii
vpdii

I think the fans need to chill out on this one because this is hardly a statement win.........beating a first place team that has been decimated by injuries should be expected........the Card's are only a first place team based on what they did with healthy starters....... not with 2nd string starters that played yesterday.....lets see if the birds can win against a healthy Green bay team before we start screaming statement win and best win of the season. Beating the Cards yesterday was no different from the Tampa Bay win earlier this season.

NorthFlaFalcon
NorthFlaFalcon

Great win for the Falcons. But Ryan's lazy throw was intercepted for a pick 6. Also Smitty abandoned the run game and "sat on a lead" ... which could have cost us. The defense is really coming on. Historically we have had good luck at Lambeau ... should be a good one on the 8th ... the Packers will win however. We still have a very good shot at winning the 3 after that and hosting a playoff game.

RickinWarnerRobins
RickinWarnerRobins

@NorthFlaFalcon  Sorry...I disagree...Falcons won't win the division as New Orleans has an easier remaining schedule.  They will coast and Falcons will struggle.  Don't misunderstand...I love my Falcons, but reality is that they will lose big to the Packers and I don't have any warm fuzzies that they can beat New Orleans again.  Look for the Falcons to end up second or third in the division.

SaintsInLosAngelesBy2020
SaintsInLosAngelesBy2020

@RickinWarnerRobins @NorthFlaFalcon Going to be tough at Green Bay. Winning would feel good for the moment, but the Falcons don't have the talent for a deep postseason run. None of the teams in the South have a prayer of sniffing the Super Bowl. 

One of the four teams is going to end up with a division winner's low draft position and tough schedule next season. It doesn't need to be Atlanta. Let New Orleans bring their own rope to their own hanging. The Saints fans that derive their self-esteem by posting chidish gibberish on Falcons blogs will think they have actually accomplished something. 

 The best case scenario is for the Falcons to beat the Saints, but for New Orleans or Carolina to win the division. It would probably be best for the 2015 Falcons if the Saints win it. 

ctfalconsfan
ctfalconsfan

@SaintsInLosAngelesBy2020 @RickinWarnerRobins @NorthFlaFalcon ???? If you are a Falcons' fan then you want us to win the division. A real Falcon fan would never state the " best for ATL to have NOLA win the div"??? NOLA is trash!

The 2015 schedule you speak of only affects 2 games the other 14 games are all set for next year so we would play 2 first place teams instead of two 2nd place teams. Who cares? I want to win the division then win in the first round of the playoffs then fire TD and Smitty!!

SaintsInLosAngelesBy2020
SaintsInLosAngelesBy2020

@ctfalconsfan @SaintsInLosAngelesBy2020 @RickinWarnerRobins @NorthFlaFalcon I want the Falcons to win the Super Bowl, but realistically, it is not going to happen. The Falcons are a team that needs to improve at several positions to be a serious contender in the next year or two, and they need all the advantages they can get.

I understand your point about the schedule, but two games is 1/8 of the season, 12.5% of the season. Two slightly lesser opponents next season could be the difference in an extra post season home game. The Birds are obviously much better at home, and if they are a playoff team, they need to be in the dome.

 I have never liked the Saints. If they went 0-16 every year I would be pleased. 

 What actually plays out will not be impacted at all by what is on a blog. Of course I want the Falcons to win the division this year, but if they don't, there will be advantages in 2015. It's the NFL's way of rewarding failure. In my opinion, the team that wins the Super Bowl should have the #1 draft pick and let the loser pick at #32.

 We can agree on hoping for the Falcons to always be successful. When they are not, you look for the positives.

Acworthdon
Acworthdon

Well I agree with Range Rover but top that off with the most stupid wrong call on the Falcon's all year... giving us a penalty on THAT play and then admitting "later" they made the wrong call????? Boy, if that was a big game with anyone and they missed by as much as they did someone would pay dearly!  Will they?  Well it doesn't matter now but WOW!

So, now, let's see the Rise Up Falcons win against Green Bay...can they? Oh yeah! Will they?  Ah, that is the question but now they have the goal in sight! RISE UP!

RangeRover
RangeRover

Sadly, were it not for Smith's horrific time management against Detroit and Cleveland, this team is riding a 5 game winning streak, sitting at 7-5, and a two game lead with just four games left.

Smith is such a dunce!

mdet
mdet

@RangeRover  Smith miss managed the clock again. At the end of the 1st half they let 25+ seconds run off before the 2 minute warning, then ran out of time and had to kick a field goal on 3rd down.


plus that time and timeouts would have allowed for a run or pass threat.


Smith is less than smart!

50Concept
50Concept

with that huge upset, ATl is back!  mark this down---ATl will win the division---new orleans will lose 2-3 more games!  Rise up!!

RickinWarnerRobins
RickinWarnerRobins

@FourCorners  Let me first state that I'm a big Falcons fan, but they were lucky to beat the Cardinals.  Had Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald have been playing, the game wouldn't have been close...they'd have beaten the pants off the Falcons.  The Falcons did nothing yesterday to impress.  The secondary still sucks, Ryan still throws stupid interceptions, and Hester can't catch a pass to save his life.  All of that, along with stupid play calling, bad coaching and the many stupid penalties will cost the Falcons dearly in the coming games.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

"If this is an aberration, we’ll find out soon. Next opponent: Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers."


Packers blow out the Falcons. Falcons lucked out and caught the Cardinals at the right time.

devounknown1000
devounknown1000

Julio best player on the Falcons hands down, with out Julio Falcons are just what they have always been and that is nothing.


When you have a Super star player like Julio you have to respect that, Julio top 5 WR in the NFL.


GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

devounknown1000
devounknown1000

Where is the Julio haters at ? LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Falcons fans must be on something always thinking your supposed be at top of your game, when you have a QB who can't throw accurate down field then what a player supposed to do. SMH


If I Julio I will not sign with falcons if not pay him at least 14mill a year, hey they just over paid for AVG QB so Julio need his money to.


GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



devounknown1000
devounknown1000

@Wilbo @devounknown1000  Did you go school at all ever ? LOL!!!!!!!!!!!


Bro you can't understand pronunciations of words ? hey Wilbo what school did you attend ?

buellerbuellerbueller
buellerbuellerbueller

The NFC South (Falcons season hopes) will go down to Falcons @ Saints on Sunday, December 21- mark it as the "day of reckoning" on your calendar. Falcons are playing better, but so are the Saints.


Keep the same pre-game ritual for Jackson & Jones (those guys played great).  Defense held their own today too.

BirdBeak
BirdBeak

I didn't believe they had a chance in this game or any others for rest of season. They suprised a few of us but see them returning back to their ole selves very quickly. Smith didn't seem to excited even after the win. Body language was "I know I'm a goner season's end"

GT71
GT71

Too bad a professional player can't play like his job depended on it every game.  And yes, I'm talking about #11 Julio Jones.

And there are so many others on this team who seem to play for the pay and only good enough to keep playing.

Funny how that works.  But if that's not true, then why do long-term contracts produce sub-expected play from most pros in most sports?

Nice win over a severely damaged team, but the fire should be there weekly - at the rate they are being paid.

RodRod
RodRod

Here's a question: If they had called offsetting penalties (for facemask on the return), Shultz states the return would have been nullified. Would the Falcons be allowed to decline the facemask penalty against the Cardinals so the return would stand - minus 15 yards against Hester?

Boxtradamus
Boxtradamus

Hey Jeff, what happened to Dawgs win and Falcons loose?


uh...huh

Mora-less-Petrino
Mora-less-Petrino

Green Bay game will likely be out of hand real quick, but after that, the Steelers are not what they used to be and the Saints and Panthers are both crap, so 8-8 is possible. Not saying probable, but possible. 


8-8 is also within reach for Dallas, again.

 The Giants blogs will probably be entertaining this week. 

 The Raiders logo should have an eyepatch over both eyes.

 Houston beat the Oilers today.

 The Panthers still have a fair chance to win the NFC Lousy, as it looked like they would do early on. If Carolina gets warm, (teams in the NFC Lousy don't get hot), they could finish 7-8-1. They have games aganst each of  their Lousy brethern and the Browns. All teams that have shown they are capable of looking bad on any given Sunday, Monday, or Thursday.

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

Early on it appeared that the Falcons would blow this team out. But their  inability to score in the red zone, allowed the Cardinals to stay in the game. I felt they should of stayed with the run game on that second drive in the red zone. But they decided to pass and end up having to kick a field goal. That was a bad call on Hester and those calls against Robert McClain were questionable. Harry Douglas and Julio Jones had their way with that Cardinal defense. Matt Ryan was solid and that defense played their best game this season. Now they have something to build on moving forward against the Packers. I think if the offensive line can repeat their performance, they'll be competitive against the mighty Green Bay Packers. One of their starting cornerbacks got injured in that Patriot game--- maybe that will help.

notPlanB
notPlanB

@DarlaLewis  The season is over for me. If something happens where we make the playoffs, OK but I'm not expecting it. I just want us to play good and do the best we can for next year.

This OL is not good by far but not that bad either and we have 5 other OL on IR. Maybe we will be OK there next year and can draft on the defensive side.

tyger
tyger

8-8 might shake out...


Arizona win is HUGE...

Home games vs reeling PIT, CAR...

Loss to GB...just keeping it real...


Showdown in New Orleans...


No help for weary...

Saints have CAR, TB, CHI...

Put 35 on Steelers ...

Steelers put up 32...

Falcons average 20 ppg.

BillFalcon
BillFalcon

Good game.  Isn't it a shame that we blew the Detroit, Cleveland and Minnesota games. 

Mora-less-Petrino
Mora-less-Petrino

@BillFalcon Looking back, the Bears and Giants were games that the Birds should have won. The NFC is pretty bad except for Green Bay, as we will see on Monday night.