In a game where the 17-year veteran and future Hall of Famer tight end had an outstanding individual performance with 149 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns, the last thing on Tony Gonzalez‘s mind were his stats line. After a valiant comeback effort by the Atlanta Falcons, Gonzalez’s big game was ruined by the team allowing the New England Patriots to escape the Georgia Dome with a 30-23 win, dropping them to 1-3.
If Gonzalez could trade in his individual performance in exchange for a W, he would do it in a heartbeat. The Falcons had a total of six trips to the red zone inside the 20-yard line, and came away with only one touchdown to show for it.
After the Falcons’ loss to the Miami Dolphins just a week earlier, coach Mike Smith preached to his team about the importance of coming away with touchdowns in the red zone, particularly inside 20 yards. Instead of heeding to Smith’s preaching, his team failed to do a better job as they were 1-for-6. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Falcons’ six trips inside the 20 was the most by an NFL team this season.
Even though Gonzalez continues to age, his passion is the same as when he first entered the NFL, and he let out his frustrations on the Falcons’ inability to come away with more touchdowns. Coming out of retirement, Gonzalez couldn’t have foresaw that his Falcons would be third in the NFC South division, let alone have a 1-3 record in the first four weeks of the NFL season.
To make matters worse, the Falcons lead the NFL with 18 red zone trips, which speaks volumes of how good their offense is. Unfortunately, the Falcons are the fifth-worst in terms of touchdown conversion with a 38.9 percent. In other words, if the Falcons want to keep their goal of making it to the Super Bowl, or even making the playoffs a reality, they need to start learning how to score touchdowns immediately.
The Falcons’ offensive struggles in the red zone are just unacceptable, and it was evident from beginning to end that the Falcons’ red zone woes weren’t going to get any better against the Patriots. Matt Ryan understands that he is at fault as a leader, and accepted plenty of blame for the embarrassing stat line after the game.
That at least shows that the attitude seems to be in the right place, and hopefully the Falcons will learn from their mistakes and make adjustments before it’s too late.