Mark Bradley

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

No offense: The Falcons sputtered when it counted

These short takes are presented as an adjunct to the Falcons-Colts game column, which can be found here . The Falcons lost 24-21 after leading 21-7. They're 6-4 after starting 5-0.

1. After taking a 14-point lead midway through the third quarter, the Falcons managed three first downs and 66 yards on seven possessions. This is how those drives ended: Punt, fumble (on the first play), punt, interception (on the first play, returned 6 yards for the tying touchdown), punt, punt, interception. Yes, they were missing Devonta Freeman, lost in the first quarter after sustaining a concussion. Still, this is a team with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. This team, playing at home against the NFL's 28th-ranked defense, didn't advance past the Indianapolis 40 on its final seven possessions. That's terrible. The Falcons tried to tweak their offense over the bye week -- they ran the occasional hurry-up set, to no effect -- but you wouldn't have known it from this.

2. We can't say that the Falcons have been unlucky. On the contrary, this marked their fourth (of 10) games against a backup quarterback. They're 2-2 in those, having suffered consecutive losses against San Francisco and the just-promoted Blaine Gabbert and Indy and the 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck. They've had the NFL's softest schedule, and through five games they made hay of it. They've since lost four of five, and matters are about to toughen. Their next three games are against Minnesota, which leads the NFC Central; Tampa Bay, which has risen to 5-5, and Carolina, which hasn't lost.

3. Roddy White lives! And makes catches! The forgotten former Pro Bowler was targeted three times on the Falcons' first series, catching one pass. On the day, he was targeted nine times -- second-most among Falcons to Julio Jones' 15 -- and caught four passes. (Ryan's first interception touched White's hands before it was snagged by former Falcon Dwight Lowery.) But here's the downside: Those four receptions netted 24 yards. Of the Falcons' 25 completions, only Jones had a catch of more than 18 yards. There's really only one downfield threat on this roster, and he can't catch everything. Though fullback Pat DiMarco did slip scandalously uncovered into the end zone for the Falcons' first touchdown. That was a nice wrinkle. DiMarco also caught a second touchdown pass. Maybe he's the new Tony Gonzalez.

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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.