Team Grades: Falcons Lose Another Close One
By Matthew Asher
For whatever reason the 2014 Atlanta Falcons have been unable to win a game when it doesn't come against a fellow NFC South opponent. This time it was the Cleveland Browns placekicker Billy Cundiff who made a 37-yard field goal in the final seconds of the game to deprive the Falcons of another close game.
It was an odd game to lose because Cleveland seemed to do everything possible to lose the game. The Browns out-gained the Falcons by 160 yards but Brian Hoyer continued to turn the ball over and didn't throw a single touchdown. The Falcons seemed dead in the third quarter but fought back to take a 1-point lead with less than 2 minutes to go, but left too much time on the clock allowing Cleveland to score on their final drive.
Roddy White and Julio Jones both get A's
Roddy caught nine passes for 98 yards and Julio was responsible for 68 yards on five catches including a 24-yard first quarter touchdown. It was Jones' first touchdown reception since the Week 3 blowout of Tampa Bay. These two men were responsible for 14 of Ryan's 27 completions and 164 of his 273 passing yards.
Kemal Ishmael, Desmond Trufant and Dezmen Southward all get A's
These three men all picked off one pass by Hoyer each. They kept Atlanta in the game and even though the Falcons couldn't win in the end, these guys did a great job of stepping up with Robert Alford now on the IR for the remainder of the season.
Atlanta's defense as a whole gets a C-
As mentioned earlier, Atlanta was out-gained by Cleveland by 160 yards as the Browns put up 475 total yards of offense. Hoyer threw for 322 yards with 120 of them coming from Josh Gordon who played his first game this season after serving a 10-game suspension. There were many missed tackles that led to the gaudy numbers Cleveland put up. In addition to the passing, the Falcons also gave up 162 yards on the ground. Rookie running back Isaiah Crowell, who grew up in Colimbus, GA, had a great homecoming game of sorts as he ran 12 times for 88 yards and scored Cleveland's only two touchdowns of the game.
Matt Ryan's turnovers get a D-
Ryan threw an interception and fumbled the ball in the first half. Atlanta's defense was able to limit the Browns to just field goals on both ensuing drives, but when a team loses by 2 points, avoiding just one of those turnovers could have meant a win for Atlanta. Ryan seemed out of sync at the beginning of the game as several passes he threw were risky. Those were also the only two turnover Atlanta committed this game.
Atlanta now drops to 4-7. The NOLA Saints play on Monday Night so depending on the outcome of that game, Atlanta may still be in the lead in the NFC South. Atlanta does get to stay at home, but they will host the Arizona Cardinals, one of the best teams the NFC has to offer this season. Kickoff for that game will be an atypical 4:05 pm ET start time.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.
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