For all of the the pyrotechnics and blazing fire that trumpeted the entry of the Atlanta Falcons into the Georgia Dome, whipping the thunderous throngs into a deafening frenzy, the Falcons offense turned deafeningly silent once the game against the Chicago Bears commenced.
The Dome, bursting at the seams with unbridled eagerness to help resuscitate the Falcons’ season, eventually grew silent as well. Unless you were among the Chicago faithful.
For the third week in a row, the Falcons’ potentially potent and explosive offense sputtered in key situations and killed game-changing drives — most particularly on third downs with multiple dropped passes and brain-belching penalties, not to mention untimely sacks on Matt Ryan — resulting in a woefully insufficient offense that couldn’t compensate for a toothless defense that left cavernous holes in coverage for Chicago’s big play receivers and Jay Cutler’s famous gunslinger’s style.
It resulted in a disturbingly painful Sunday afternoon display of football that failed to match the heightened pageantry of the Pledge of Alliegance and player intros before depositing a lopsided 27-13 home loss that wasn’t as close as the final score.
In a nutshell: the receivers couldn’t make clutch catches, the offense couldn’t covert to continue drives and the defensive backfield acted more like traffic cops as they waved receivers past them for open bombs and escorted tailback Matt Forte into the end zone for easy scampers up the middle.
Coach Mike Smith was visibly exasperated during a somber press conference that had the feeling of deja vu.
“We were 1-5 on third downs and were not able to get anything going offensively,” Smith said. “I thought we fought back in the second half and tied the score up, but I believe we continued to have woes on third down on both sides of the football. We were outgained in this football game by almost 200 yards, not nearly good enough.”
Cutler, equally maligned and exalted during his NFL career because of his Brett Favre-like mentality — sans the pedigree and playoff credentials — resembled the former Green Bay great as he performed invasive surgery on the Falcons, completing 26-38 passes for 381 yards and a touchdown. His two mammoth receivers, Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, feasted on the the Falcon’s porous defense and disemboweled the Falcons just when they thought they had the Bears on the ropes. Jeffery finished with 136 yards on 5 catches, and Marshall had 113 yards on 6 grabs.
The Falcons have only scored a total of three touchdowns over the last nine quarters of play, which belies the big-play weapons they have on the roster. This points out to the multiplicity of dropped balls that Ryan puts on the money but the receivers just have not reeled in.
“It doesn’t concern me that it’s a veteran player, or a young player, we’ve got to complete balls. We got to make the play when the plays are presented to us. We had some opportunities today, and we did not get that done.”
Ryan, for his part, refused to throw his big-play receivers on the sword — even though he could have. “We’ve had opportunities really in the past two weeks to make more plays than we have,” said Ryan, who threw better than the numbers showed. He finished with a very pedestrian 19-35 for 245 yards and no TDs. “I don’t think we have to reinvent the wheel; we just have to play better, said Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, in an ode to the obvious. “Starting with myself, when there’s opportunities to convert and make plays, we’ve got to do it.”
One of the things the Falcons have to do, besides cashing in on the plethora of opportunities, is to protect Ryan and the football. Keeping Ryan upright has been an issue as of late. Moreover, the Falsons have 20 straight games the they have turned the ball over at least once. In that span, which began in week three of the 2013 NFL season, Atlanta is 5-15 with a combined  turnovers.