The fact the Atlanta Falcons were playing at home couldn’t even save them on Sunday. The team that usually plays so well in the Georgia Dome failed to do so as they were defeated by the Chicago Bears 27-13.
Atlanta’s offense continued to struggle, as the Falcons were outgained by almost 200 yards total offense by Chicago – 478 to 287. The Falcons had little rushing game, with only 42 yards on only 13 carries and had numerous dropped passes by normally reliable receivers.
“We are not playing very efficiently in terms of completing third downs,” said head coach Mike Smith. “We were 4 of 13 on third down today. You can’t have that type of percentage. We have to protect our quarterback better. We got him hit way too many times. I believe he was sacked four times and he was hit multiple times.”
The offensive line shuffle that started in training camp seems to be catching up with the Falcons. Matt Ryan had trouble in the pocket Sunday with pressure coming from a Chicago defense that had several players out with injuries.
Atlanta was down 13-3 at halftime but rallied to tie the score at 13 in the third quarter. Once again, Antone Smith was involved in a big play, scoring on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Ryan. It was Smith’s seventh long touchdown since last season’s game against Tampa Bay in November.
But the Bears drove down the field in less than a minute to regain the lead. The big play was on a 74-yard reception by Alshon Jeffery that was made possible when defensive backs Desmond Trufant and Kemal Ishmael got tangled up.
“Obviously there was some confusion on some deep routes,” Smith said. “We’ve got to be much better at it. We have to make sure we are seeing it the same way.”
The Bears then got the ball back at the end of the third quarter and had a 15-play, 87-yard drive that was finished off with a 9-yard touchdown run by Matt Forte. That made the score 27-13. The Falcons were then unable to generate any offense in their final three drives. They had only two first downs in those three series, as Ryan was 4-10 with an interception and he was sacked three times.
“We weren’t able to score any points in the fourth quarter of the football game,” Smith said. “When you don’t score in the fourth quarter, it’s tough to win.”
“From week to week, it seems like it’s something else,” said running back Steven Jackson, who had only 25 yards on six carries. “We try to shore up one thing and the next week something else comes up in a situational football that we don’t execute on. It does become a little frustrating.”
Jackson now has 263 rushing yards in the first six games of the season, putting him on pace for 700 yards for the season. To put that in perspective, Browns rookie and former UGA running back Isaiah Crowell is on pace for 750 rushing yards with his strong start to the season.
Jackson is one of many talented skill players on the Atlanta roster. He admitted that the talent is there for this team to be better than 2-4.
“We have a lot of playmakers on this side of the ball, so anytime we don’t play to our potential it is disappointing,” Jackson said. “It’s very frustrating when you know you have the talent and you don’t come away with the W.”
“We just ain’t making the plays,” said Antone Smith. “We have all the talent on this team to make all the plays to win games. We’re just not getting it done right now. We’ve just got to dig deep and come together and just find a way. That’s the biggest thing right now. We know we have the talent on the team. We’ve just got to find a way to make the plays.”
The Atlanta defense continues to be a problem. Take away the win over Tampa Bay and the Falcons have allowed 31.2 points per game in the other five games. Atlanta is now 29th (fourth-worst) in the NFL in pass defense and 27th (sixth-worst) in run defense.
Coach Smith was very adamant after the game that changes could be coming on defense.
“We have to look at everything,” he said. “We’ve got to do a better job of rushing the quarterback. I thought that we moved him some. When they moved, we weren’t good with our rush lanes so the quarterback was able to extend some plays. We had busted coverage and you don’t give up the explosive plays that we have given up without having the mental errors.”
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was 26-for-38 Sunday with one touchdown pass and 381 yards. He was sacked three times but usually had time to make throws to an impressive group of receivers.
“Our young players, our old players have all contributed to this,” said Smith. “We have to get it fixed. Nothing is off the table in regards to what we have to do better.”
The Falcons will not return to the Georgia Dome until Sunday, November 23 when the Cleveland Browns come to Atlanta. They play in Baltimore this week against the Ravens.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Falcons look bad in loss to the Bears
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