The Falcons’ inability to convert on several third- and fourth-down opportunities may have been the biggest reason for the Patriots shut out of the Falcons. The most glaring failed attempt came in the second quarter on a 3rd and 1, resulting in a 12-yard loss when Matt Ryan was sacked.
The worst part of it, aside from the drive stalling, was the fact that Kyle Pitts likely had the first down on the Falcons’ second down play. Arthur Smith missed the chance to challenge, and the field goal unit trotted on the field. The ending result was a converted field goal negated by a penalty, then Younghoe Koo uncharacteristically missed his next attempt.
The Falcons then failed on back-to-back short-yardage situations that would result in a turnover on downs. Atlanta chose not to reward the A.J. Terrell interception by calling two runs up the middle. First, there was a fullback dive that failed from the get-go. Then, the Falcons elected to run a similar play with a halfback dive, which didn’t go well for Matt Hennessy and Qadree Ollison.
Hennessy (center) got blown up on that 4th down pic.twitter.com/IryBQl2ZM1
— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) November 19, 2021
The Falcons defense had a valiant effort, but the offense could not hold their end of the bargain up. There were so many vital stops Dean Pees’ unit had, and the offense continually came up short. The receivers couldn’t generate separation, but Ryan had no time to throw even if they did. He couldn’t rely on the run game, and the offensive line was porous the entire game.
The truth is that those failed conversions didn’t lose the Falcons the game — a lack of personnel did. For all of the sentiments from the regime earlier in the offseason of competing right now, this roster is far from that, and the Patriots reminded us all of that Thursday night. After recent performances, the only defensive players who are playing with some attitude are Grady Jarrett, A.J. Terrell, and Foye Oluokun; the rest haven’t impressed nearly enough if this roster were to be stripped down.
On offense, the lack of personnel may have been understated to begin the season. Misguided by hope, I believed the Falcons offense would generate more points than just three the past two weeks. The offensive line has more weak links than reliable players; the receiving core is abysmal, and the running back room is in desperate need of an upgrade.
The Patriots’ domination has truly reaffirmed just how far this Falcons team is away from competing in the playoffs.