Falcons 23 Jaguars 17
The streak is finally over for Dan Quinn’s Atlanta Falcons. The Dirty Birds won for the first time in seven games. The victory came in another tight contest, this time against Jacksonville.
Four of the six losses during Atlanta’s meltdown were decided by four points or less.
Atlanta opened up a big lead early in the first half then extended it to 17-3 after the defense picked off a Blake Bortles pass in the red zone, setting up a field goal with a 84 yard INT return by Kemal Ishmael.
The first half lead was built with an emphasis on the running game, something the team had gotten away from during their six game losing streak. Devonta Freeman led the way with 53 yards and a touchdown, not a banner day but it did show the team’s dedication to running the ball. Freeman added 45 yards on receptions as well.
The second half was a different story as Jacksonville continued to fight as they are in the hunt still for their division lead. The Jags managed to tie the game at 17 behind the play of Julius Thomas, who had six catches and 79 yards. Allen Robinson chipped in for 57 yards with three catches and one score.
The Birds managed a FG in the fourth to go up by three. Matt Ryan made a bad throw to Justin Hardy beforehand on third down that could have led to a touchdown.
Justin Hardy got into the wide out mix late as he caught several key passes on the critical drive that ate clock and led to another Falcons FG. His first catch was not until the fourth quarter however. He ended the game with three catches for 36 yards.
Shayne Graham, 3/3 for the game, capped the late drive with a 46 yard field goal to make it 23-17 Atlanta.
Jacksonville had a shot with just under two minutes to go ahead with a TD and PAT. Marqise Lee made an incredible catch to move the ball downfield as Falcons fans cringed like a kid opening a pair of socks on Christmas. Bortles later missed an open Allen Hurns over the middle on a third down that would have been for a huge gain. Fourth down resulted in an incompletion thus giving the Falcons the victory and some naive playoff hope.
Game over, 23-17 Falcons.
Falcons vs Jaguars Game Highlights:
Atlanta got a much needed win. I was afraid construction on the new unnecessary Falcons’ stadium would come to a halt had the Birds dropped their seventh straight.
Matt Ryan had just one pick in this one and it was due to a batted ball. He did force the ball to Julio against double coverage all game long though. It’s clear he needs more weapons or just needs to trust the guys there. It’s not like Russell Wilson has All Pros at WR, but these guys make plays when they are targeted.
I am still hearing too much rah rah from coach Quinn. I know he’s not gonna break down film with the media, but I don’t want Tony Robbins coaching the Falcons. They could watch some DVDs for that. Quinn has to do more than motivate. He has to help the offense overcome their ineffectiveness.
Jones broke the franchise record for receptions in a season, breaking the mark set by Roddy White back in 2010. Jones is sitting on 118 catches with two games left. I would take less catches for more targets in the red zone.
His lone score was his first one since November 1. How that’s possible with a guy that talented and considering he has now caught 118 passes, I have no idea.
Jones needs someone to step up in order to get fewer double teams. Justin Hardy has potential, but Roddy White is very unlikely to be in Atlanta next year. He was rarely used in 2015 and when he was targeted he has been largely ineffective up until today in Jacksonville. Wide receivers on the free agency market for 2016 don’t seem to be the answer with only one big name in Alshon Jeffery, who is unlikely to get out of Chicago.
Tweets of the Games:
Nice thought but not based in reality. The Panthers already had their trap game versus NY and came out on top.
Let’s not get carried away with Roddy having one good game.
I hate these flow charts of how your NFL team is gonna sneak into the playoffs. Some team don’t belong. The Falcons do not.
The Falcons need sack masters but not ones that are near the end.
To quote Han Solo in The Force Awakens, “That’s not how the force works.”