Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

If Matty Ice isn't on fire, the Falcons are doomed


Antone Smith makes another play. (Bill Kostroun/AP photo)

East Rutherford, N.J.

These short takes off the Falcons-Giants game are presented as a companion to the game column, which can be found here. The Falcons lost 30-20, in case you haven't heard.

1. The Atlanta Falcons cannot win if Matt Ryan is only pretty good. For a while, this seemed another those vintage Matty Ice games in a season that has already yielded two (the overtime victory over New Orleans and the blowout of Tampa Bay). He completed 17 of his first 21 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown. He would complete 12 of his final 24 for 150 yards, 74 of those coming on a dump pass that Antone Smith turned into a touchdown. Ryan said the Falcons never got into a rhythm in the second half, and he conceded he was as culpable as anybody. Trailing by 10 points with 20 minutes left, the Giants began to overwhelm the Falcons' jerry-built offensive line, which hadn't fared badly in the first half. The game's biggest play -- the Falcons went for it on fourth-and-1 at their 29 with 4:40 remaining -- featured the Giants' only sack.

2. Julio Jones: Where'd he go? The great receiver caught eight passes for 88 yards in the first half and had the MetLife Stadium patrons groaning over the Giants' inability to cover him. He caught three passes for 17 yards in the second half. "I don't think it was by design," Ryan said, but the Falcons' offense -- which entered the game ranked first in the NFL -- mustered only two first downs on its first six series of the second half. (One by penalty, the other on Smith's catch-and-run.) The Giants' manpower advantage wore on an O-line that was already threadbare, and by game's end there was nothing left.

3. About Antone Smith, even Arthur Blank may be wondering. When coach Mike Smith was asked if the Falcons plan to give the productive bit player more touches, Smith's boss laughed out loud. (Not-so-wild guess: Blank might have brought up the matter in one of his weekly meetings with the team's upper crust.) Said Smith: "We need to have more plays designed for Antone. When he touches the ball, he makes plays ... I know everybody likes Antone. We like Antone a whole lot as well. We have to make sure that we get our playmakers the ball."


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About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.