Cardinals vs. Falcons review: The Football Gods must have the Falcons in their favor

 

My one word to describe Matt Ryan’s performance Sunday.

Eww…

Wait, is that even a word? Well, some wouldn’t consider 5 interceptions in a game to be a performance, but, an optimist would say a win is a win. A pessimist would tell the Falcons not to take away any positives from this game, because there were none. I’m siding with the pessimist on this one…

The Falcons got lucky and they know it.

This game was hard to watch, not only because of the interceptions, but because of how out-of-sync the Falcons were the entire game. The Cardinals defense made play-after-play, capitalizing off the many mistakes Atlanta made this game. Like the title states, the Football Gods above must really love Arthur Blank. The stats and information crew at ESPN said the last QB to win a game with 5 interceptions was Bart Starr in 1967. Even with a performance this bad, Matt Ryan still finds a way to make history.

Cardinal RB LaRod Stephens-Howling exploded on Atlanta’s defense, juking the mess out of tacklers for 127 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons physical-less defense continues to be exposed. If they want to make a playoff run, that run defense has to be fixed. Most of the playoff bound teams (Bears, 49ers, Giants, Seattle, Minnesota) have very effective running backs. If we end up seeing either of those teams in the post-season and their backs happen to get going, Mike Smith could end up with another one-and-done season. John Skelton was benched after starting the game 2 out of 7 for 6 yards. The QB-carousel couldn’t have got going at a better time, as rookie Ryan Lindley was thrown into the fire barely passed for over 60 yards. Larry Fitzgerald was also held to one catch for 7 yards, basically invisible for the entire game. Also, John Abraham had a nice game, forcing a fumble and telling Jonathan Babineaux to run for the touchdown that got the Falcons and the crowd back in the game.

But Atlanta needs to acknowledge that they are slipping into one-dimension territory; the main ingredient for playoff failure. They passed the ball the majority of the game, even with a limping Julio and Matt Ryan throwing int-after-int. Ryan made a few mistakes this game, but I still put the majority of the blame on the coaching. The Cardinals have the 2nd ranked pass defense, and I’m sure they were expecting us to pass. For Atlanta to come out and still try to gun-sling was a terrible idea. Atlanta only ran the ball 21 times, with Turner getting 15 of the carries once again. Mike Smith and Dirk Koetter are obviously confused about how to handle the run game, thinking that giving Turner more carries is the key to solving the problem. Still…

I guess a win’s a win.

But, if I’m on the Falcons, I wouldn’t hold my head up high after a performance like this. It’s going to be interesting to see how the run game and defense improves as we get closer to the playoffs. Mike Smith needs to run the ball more to where they can distribute more carries to the other backs on the roster. I understand it’s hard to do that when you play from behind (They were down 13-0 due to turnovers), but establishing balance in the offense will be important down the stretch. We’re one game closer to locking up home field advantage, but sloppy play in front of a home crowd won’t wim playoff games. The schedule gets tougher as we head to Tampa Bay. Stay tuned for the preview…

 

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