Short takes: Falcons find somebody they can beat — and they’ll take it

Running back Devonta Freeman reaches out to hit the pylon for the Falcons' first touchdown, the first time this season the offense scored a TD on the opening possession. (AP photo)

Running back Devonta Freeman reaches out to hit the pylon for the Falcons’ first touchdown, the first time this season the offense scored a TD on the opening possession. (AP photo)

JACKSONVILLE — The Falcons won a game. The Falcons won a game. (I felt the need to type that twice.) With a six-game losing streak having already submarined their season, the Falcons were well past the point of expecting and mandating perfection Sunday. They just wanted to finally win one, and they did: 23-17 over Jacksonville. To read my column on this rare turn of events, click here.

Below are my three “short takes” on the game.

1. Flaws, flaws, flaws — so what? Quarterback Matt Ryan had a pass tipped and intercepted, leading to a tying Jacksonville touchdown in the third quarter, when the Falcons lost a 17-3 lead. The team blew at least 10 more points by failing to cover two Jacksonville fumbles in the red zone on separate possessions, and failing to block the quarterback on an interception return (see below). But the Falcons finally won a game, and a big reason was Ryan and the offense converted three third-down situations and used up 6:44 on the clock down the stretch, even if having to ultimately settle for a field goal. So that’s a step forward for the offense and the team, even if the win did come over the 5-9 Jacksonville Jaguars.

2. A touchdown, to start the game — honest: The Falcons scored a touchdown on their opening possession. That used to not be considered such a big deal, but it was a first for this season. The Falcons consistently had one of the NFL’s best success rates on opening drives since drafting Matt Ryan in 2008, but the first 13 games this year netted only zero touchdowns, four field goals, seven punts and two turnovers to start the game. Against Jacksonville, the offense had a nice mix of runs and passing plays off Ryan bootlegs, driving 80 yards on eight plays for a touchdown. The scoring play, a five-yard run by Devonta Freeman, also was the Falcons’ first rushing touchdown since Oct. 15 at New Orleans. So relative to everything else in 2015, this was like their “Believe It Or Not” possession.

3. Justin Durant, report to film session:  Justin Durant of the Falcons is a linebacker. Blake Bortles of the Jaguars is a quarterback — a 6-5, 245-pound quarterback, but a quarterback nonetheless. But Durant’s failure to throw a block on an interception return cost the Falcons’ four points. The Falcons led 14-3 but Jacksonville had a first and goal at the Atlanta one-yard line when Kemal Ishmael intercepted a Bortles pass intended for tight end Marcedes Lewis. Ishmael appeared to have a clear path down the right sideline for a pick-six. But Bortles hustled back and fought off a block by Durant — actually stiff-arming the linebacker away — and then tripped up Ishmael at the Jacksonville 16-yard-line. With only two seconds left in the half, the Falcons settled for a Shayne Graham field goal to take a 17-3 lead. One decent block by Durant and Ishmael would have been in the end zone for a 21-3 lead.

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23 comments
TideDawg
TideDawg

Yes! The Panthers are good...real good, but we'll see how they handle the big time.

khd713
khd713

Little things:


- The failure of Ishmael to score on the interception return.

- The failed fumble scoop by Beasley (I think).

- The failed sack of Bortles by Bierman.

- The failure of Matt Ryan to recognize the massive arms of defensive linemen extended above their heads.


Among others, these types of plays are often the difference between winning and losing in the NFL. Yesterday we were able to overcome these failures and still won the game, but that's because we were playing a really bad team. That game did little to convince me that we've cleaned up the sloppiness that has defined this team the second two-thirds of the season, and to me that speaks directly to the coaching. It has been bad.

slydawg
slydawg

Nkemdiche or Tunsil. Nuff said. And if you are inclined to not want to draft Nkemdiche and/or his brother for that matter or any player of their ilk, then the Falcons will not win anything anytime soon. It was only weed and unscrupulous agents

TOJacket
TOJacket

@slydawg Yea.....college kids smoking weed? Who would have thunk it?

TideDawg
TideDawg

The game between the Falcons and Jags had meaning......they were playing for "Worst" Place. The loser won the title.

GeorgiaBugman
GeorgiaBugman

It's very evident that this team plays with a "me" attitude. The failed fumble recoveries are glaring examples as well as the showing off after making tackles. 

Too bad coach Q can't make some of these "individuals" run some stairs.



slydawg
slydawg

Nothing wrong with showing off after making tackles as long as the tackle was made. Let's not nitpick this thing to death. This team needs as much motivation and excitement as necessary.

DogTheMan
DogTheMan

Falcons played a team that was not that good and beat them. Both of these teams are not that good. 


TOJacket
TOJacket

@DogTheMan Maybe you should jump on that Panther bandwagon....it's probably gonna be fun!

OH:IO
OH:IO

@TOJacket


I'm on the Cam Train. Ginn, Corey Brown and Coleman all Buckeyes! 

TOJacket
TOJacket

@OH:IO @TOJacket Oh I have enjoyed watching them this year......awesome team, but when they play Atlanta I have no use for them.......nothing personal, just business!

Happy_Smith
Happy_Smith

Big Flipping Deal!!  Inexplicable losses to other opponents we should have beaten have already put an end to the season (SF, Indy, & Tampa stick out like sore thumbs!!)


The OC has got to go!!!  Draft an NFL Size Back who doesn't fumble with NFL-Size Lineman and let's start-over again next year... ...an oh yeah... Ryan and Julio to Detroit for Stafford!!

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

@Lassy39  Ryan and Julio for Stafford.  Just stop... You make fun of him calling him "Who-lio", and he's the franchise record holder for receptions in a season.  He's a top 3 player at his position in the league and our most dominant player.  Why don't you just go ahead and say "trade for Murray, Stafford, and bring Shockley and Greene out of retirement."

TOJacket
TOJacket

@Lassy39 Stafford has won the same thing in rthe NFL that he did at UGA.......nothing!

anothercomment
anothercomment

At least twice Kroy Bierman flushed Bortles out of the pocket, nearly sacking him. Once was back in the end zone. None of the Falcons other players tackled Bortles after the pressure and allowed at least a ten yard gain. Football is a team sport! Where has been their great replacement for Kroy, Brooks Reed. His $25k 9 M guaranteed is an even bigger bust than Durant. At least Durant has over 30 tackles for season. Then once again we had our no sack big draft pick Beasley without any sacks and hardly any tackles this season.

DawgNole
DawgNole

Failure to block or not, having a cement-legged QB the size of Bortles catch one of our DBs--from behind, no less--is pretty embarrassing.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@PalmBeachFalcon @DawgNole I was just about to straighten out Mrs. Landers.......if Durant would have put Bortles on his a$$ it would have been a TD.......everybody scared to hit a QB nowadays?.......he was a defender then, should have clocked him!