It wasn’t pretty at times, but the Atlanta Falcons came out of Week 11 victorious, spoiling Justin Field’s return home. The Bears battled and gave the Falcons a fight but didn’t have enough to pull through despite their quarterback’s heroic performance. It wasn’t the best start if you are box score watching, but Fields is as tough and competitive as they come, qualities some teams desperately need at the position — *cough cough* Zach Wilson *cough cough*.
On several occasions, it seemed Atlanta had lost the game. The special teams stumbled early. Cordarrelle Patterson fumbled in the red zone, and the offense couldn’t convert a third down for much of the afternoon. However, the feisty Falcons never quit, which is quickly becoming a staple of this team. Patterson responded with a record-breaking kick return touchdown, and the defense picked up the slack, notching four sacks. There’s plenty to digest about this contest, but my biggest takeaway from Sunday has nothing to do with what happened on the field.
The Atlanta Falcons lack of a home field advantage has reached a boiling point; it’s honestly just embarrassing as a fan to go to Mercedes Benz Stadium and regularly be outnumbered. I’ve been to a few games this year, and for the most part, I love going to Falcons games, even though it’s not always a happy ending. Tailgating in the Home Depot lot is unique, but I probably prefer to tailgate with friends in the parking lots surrounding the stadium. It was frigid, but a warm grill helped with hot wings, sausages, and burgers. Drinks were flowing, birds were chirping; it was a fun afternoon. Then, we got into the stadium.
When I say Falcons fans were outnumbered, I’m not embellishing. I understand the Bears franchise has one of the more national fan bases, but it was a visibly disproportionate ratio just walking around the stadium. It felt like there were two Bears fans for every Falcons fan. Then, when we got to our seats, it was only worse. I was surrounded by Bears fans with only a handful of good guys to celebrate with. It was so bad that visiting fans laughed about it being a Bears home game.
Obviously, the Dirty Birds got the last laugh with the win, but it wasn’t because of the fans in the stadium. It was louder when Justin Fields willed his team down the field than when Cordarrelle Patterson broke the league record for touchdown returns.
Winning cures all, so I still believe the Falcons could pack out the stadium if the team were Super Bowl contenders. To even go against my point in this entire piece, the environment in the season opener against the Saints was electric. It was actually encouraging. But right now, it’s humiliating to show up to a game and be outmatched in the stands. You can blame Arthur Blank, the team’s recent success (or lack thereof), PSLs affecting prices, or anything else. I’m not attributing it to any one thing; in reality, it’s the culmination of everything. All I’m doing is pointing out that the team has a real issue with fan support