Smell smoke? The Falcons’ once promising season has burst into flames.
After Atlanta took a late lead, New York kicker Nick Folk made a 43-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Jets to a 30-28 victory at the Georgia Dome on Monday.
“We’re dissappointed, but we’re not discouraged,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “Now, we have to use this bye week to evaluate everything we do, keep on fighting.”
A bold decision to go for it from the 1-yard line at the end of the first half and coming away with no points will come back to haunt Smith, who now has his first three-game losing streak since taking over in 2008.
“We felt like we need to score a touchdown in that situation,” Smith said about the gutsy decision. “We felt like we had an opportunity to do it and we didn’t get it down. In hindsight, it is probably not the way we wanted it towork out, but that is the decision that we made.”
The offense wrestled a 28-27 lead from the Jets on a 3-yard Levine Toilolo touchdown reception with two minutes to play. But the defense couldn’t hold Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith, who calmly moved his team 55 yards to the Falcons’ 25-yard line for the winning points.
“We didn’t tackle as crisply as we needed to and gave up that field goal at the end of the ball game,” Smith said.
The Falcons, a seven-point favorite, dropped to 1-4 heading into their bye week. The Jets improved to 3-2.
The Saints have rushed out to a 5-0 record and have early control of the NFC South.
Geno Smith, a rookie, became the second young NFL quarterback to drive his team to victory against the Falcons. Miami’s Ryan Tannehill drove the Dolphins 75-yards over 13 plays to post a 27-23 victory on Sept. 22.
Geno Smith, who entered the game with 11 turnovers, completed 16 of 20 passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns He finsiehd with a passer rating of 147.7.
“The hurry-up offense in the NFL is complicated to stop,” Falcons safety William Moore said. “You have to find personnel and identify down and distance. It’s tough to stop. Geno is a mobile quarterback and he turned mobile on us at the end and that hurt us.”
The Falcons will try to pick up the rubble from this porous start.
Ryan was elated that Mike Smith elected to gamble on his offense, which has struggled in the red zone all season. The team entered the game 7 of 18.
They went four of five against the Jets, but the one they didn’t convert was most costly.
New York defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson got some penetration was at the bottom of the pile to stop Jacquizz Rodgers short of the goal line.
The Falcons, once considered Super Bowl contenders, team trotted off the field to a chorus of boos.
Ryan nor Rodgers wouldn’t singled out his offensive line, which struggled again and was collapsed by Richardson on the key play.
“I tell them they I thought they did a good job,” Ryan said. “I thought they fought the entire night.”
The Jets, behind some strong passing by Smith, held a 17-7 halftime lead.
After Rodgers scored on a 4-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, Geno Smith tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to Kellen Winslow to make it 27-14 with 12 minutes remaining.
The Falcons answered with a touchdown drive that was powered by tight end Tony Gonzalez, who finished with 10 catches for 97 yards. Rodgers completed an 80-yard drive by scoring on a 19-yard dash to the right and Matt Bryant’s kick made it 27-21 with 8:03 to play.
Atlanta’s defense forced another punt, the Falcons started their march at their 37-yard line. After a pass interference penalty against receiver Julio Jones, Ryan and Jones hooked up for a 46-yard pass play.
They Falcons needed a fourth-and-1 conversion pass to Gonzalez and a pass interference penalty to keep the drive moving. Ryan capped the 10-play, 63-yard touchdown drive by tossing 3-yard touchdown pass to Toilolo. Bryant’s kick put them up 28-27 with 1:54 to play, setting up the Jets’ final drive.
Ryan finished with 319 passing yards, completing 36 of 45 attempts for two touchdowns with no interceptions. The ground game generated just 64 yards, Rodgers accounting for 43 yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns.
On the fourth play of the game, Gonzalez caught a pass for a 6-yard gain. With the grab he became just the second player in NFL history to catch a pass in 200 consecutive games, joining the great Jerry Rice (274).
Gonzalez (14,607 career receiving yards) also passed Marvin Harrison (14,580) and moved into sixth place all-time in receiving yards. Tim Brown is next with 14,934 yards.
Gonzalez who came out of retiremtn his 17th season to chase Super Bowl is stunned by the 1-4 start.
“Hopefully, we can go out there and turn it around,” a somber Gonzalez said.