Well, that was interesting. The Atlanta Falcons’ season basically ended Sunday with an embarrassing 38-0 loss to undefeated and first place Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers got off to a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, and the way the Falcons have played recently there was little chance for a miracle comeback. But no one could have predicted Atlanta would get shut out by a division rival and the best team so far this season in the NFL.
Matt Ryan struggled again, with a 24.9 quarterback rating and one interception. He was under pressure all day, going down on three sacks that lost 42 yards. The Falcons had only 230 offensive yards, and the running game was totally non-existent. Atlanta had just 54 rushing yards on the day.
Atlanta’s offense has totally collapsed. It scored 32.4 points per game in the first five games of the season, all wins. But since, in the last eight games (1-7), the Falcons have scored just 14.6 points per game.
The defense has kept most of the scores close during the losing streak, but Carolina’s offense was too much to handle Sunday. Quarterback Cam Newton threw three touchdown passes and was 15-21 on the day. The Panthers also rushed for 142 yards, led by Jonathan Stewart who had 75 yards on 10 carries.
The Falcons are now one of four teams with a 6-7 record in the NFC, with three of those teams not division leaders. But the three 6-7 teams not leading their divisions are two games back of Seattle and Minnesota, two 8-5 teams who are in the lead for the two NFC wildcard spots.
So the Falcons need a miracle to get to the playoffs. After a 5-0 start, to have this collapse, the Falcons are going to have a lot of questions from an upset fan base that will want answers.
Head coach Dan Quinn is going to face a lot of pressure, but it will likely be nothing compared to the potential wrath of team owner Arthur Blank, who is trying to sell personal seat licenses for his new stadium.
Coach Schottenheimer, can you bring your playbook and report in, please?
The dysfunction played out on the sidelines Sunday, as defensive lineman Ra’Shede Hageman got into a shoving match with his position coach, Bryan Cox.
The Falcons play in Jacksonville next week against the Jaguars, who blew out Indianapolis Sunday.
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