With the game on the line, Atlanta Falcons‘ Matt Ryan had an opportunity to throw a touchdown to tie the game and cap off an impressive come back against the New England Patriots after being down 30-13 at one point. Instead, Ryan misfires to Roddy White, who was playing on one good ankle, and fails to execute in the red zone that has become all too familiar to the Dirty Birds. The Patriots defeated the Falcons 30-23 on Sunday Night Football.
While the Falcons started off their season with lofty goals such as winning the Super Bowl, the only trophy they have won so far is titled the “Red Zone Choke Artists”.
The more excruciating thing than failing to convert in the red zone once again is the simple fact that this has become a reoccurring theme for the Falcons, as doubts start to creep in if Ryan is truly an elite player at his position respectively. Although the sole blame should not be on Ryan’s shoulders, unfortunately, this game pointed out a huge flaw in not only Ryan’s ability to be a clutch player, but questions the Falcons’ team as a whole in terms of maybe it was premature to deem the Falcons as an “Elite” team.
This play was almost reminiscent to last year’s NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers, as Ryan was presented with the chance to clinch that game and send his team to the Super Bowl.
Against the New Orleans Saints in their season opener, once again Ryan and the Falcons had the opportunity to punch in a touchdown and come away with a convincing win, but ended up throwing that opportunity away with an interception.
In a game against the rising Miami Dolphins, Ryan and Falcons were in the red zone and could have had their first winning streak in their new season, but failed to execute and suffered their second loss of the year.
Although the Falcons were able to move up and down the field in an impressive fashion with an array of explosive outbursts against the Patriots, the Falcons scored only one touchdown in their six red-zone attempts. Of those six, the Falcons failed to convert two fourth downs into either a first down or a touchdown, which was the game-changer in a relatively competitive game.
The Falcons continue to struggle being efficient in the red zone, and with the NFL turning into an offensive machine, kicking field goals from within the 20-yard line instead of getting touchdowns just won’t cut it anymore. If the Falcons have any chance of catching the unbeaten Saints to win their division and capture at least a Wild Card for the playoffs, they must find a way to score and overcome their Achilles heel before it is too late.
Even though the Falcons’ record is a disappointing 1-3, there isn’t much that separates them from a 4-0 team. The Falcons were three plays away from being an undefeated team at the end of Week 4, but than again, these three losses that the Dirty Birds have suffered so far are telling us a lot of things about just how good this team really is.
As along as the Falcons theme continues to be headlined with “Red Zone Mishaps”, the only thing the Falcons will secure is a couch at home and being spectators when the Playoffs roll around.
Forget Super Bowl, heck, forget clinching home-field advantage at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons main focus should be figuring out how to score a touchdown within the 20-yard line, and if they can’t, they might as well take over the infamous title of “Underachievers” that has been long held by the San Diego Chargers and the Dallas Cowboys.
Not quite the title the Falcons were hoping for by far, but than again, the Falcons didn’t expect to own one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL that can’t score gimmick touchdowns in the red zone. Such is the irony of life.