breaking news

Delta warns storm could impact flights

Falcons’ offense takes a major step back


The Falcons’ lethal Matt Ryan to Julio Jones passing combination was stymied by the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

The Vikings kept Ryan out of the end zone for the first time in 30 games and Jones hauled in just two passes for 24 yards in the 14-9 loss at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Ryan completed 17 of 30 passes for 173 yards. It was his lowest output since he passed for 172 yards in a 33-10 loss to Seattle on Nov. 10, 2013. 

The loss snapped the Falcons’ three-game winning streak and dropped them to 7-5 on the season with a big NFC South game coming up against the New Orleans Saints at 8:25 p.m. on Thursday.

Ryan and Jones connected 12 times for 253 yards and two touchdowns in their previous game, a 34-20 win over Tampa Bay. 

The Falcons were also inefficient on third downs against the Vikings, just 1 of 10 on against an ornery defense.

“I thought we had too many third-and-7s,” Ryan said. “I think one of the points of emphasis for us during the week was to try and be efficient on first and second down. We didn’t do a good job of that.”

The Vikings defense was led by defensive end Everson Griffen and linebackers Eric Kendricks (10 tackles) and Anthony Barr (five tackles). 

“They are a very good defense,” Ryan said. “We knew it was going to be tough sledding at times, but we’ve got to be more productive and put ourselves in better positions. When we get our chances on third downs, we’ve got to make some plays.”

Jones wasn’t surprised that the Vikings were able to slow him down.

“You always have to keep working,” Jones said. “It’s just not going to be given to you. People make adjustments and things like that. We just have to adjust and keep working better. We just have to remember who we are and what we do.”

Jones didn’t have any answers for their third-down woes.

“We were just missing,” Jones said. “We were just off today. Any given Sunday, we were just off today.”

Jones didn’t catch his first pass until the 9:56 mark in the second quarter. It netted 13 yards. 

He didn’t get his second catch, an 11-yarder, until 6:49 remained in the fourth quarter.

Cornerback Xavier Rhodes had help from a safety on most of Jones’ routes. During that late drive, Ryan tried to hit Jones in triple coverage and was nearly successful.

“It’s just one of those things,” Ryan said. “They did a good job of kind of shutting all of us down. We didn’t play very well. We didn’t play very well on offense as a unit, but I give credit to them. They made plays today.”

The Falcons opened the game with a 16-play drive that was marred by three penalties. Left tackle Jake Matthews had an illegal block and center Alex Mack and left guard Ben Garland had holding penalties.

Running back Devonta Freeman, who was making his return after missing two games with a concussion, had five carries for 25 yards on the opening drive. He had a 25-yard run called back on Mack’s holding penalty.  

“I had a block in the back,” Matthews said. “That’s not going to help you. It’s only going to hinder you.”

The Falcons tried to mount a fourth-quarter drive to retake the lead. The drive stalled at Minnesota’s 27-yard line with the Falcons trailing by the final five-point margin.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn elected to try a 45-yard field goal on fourth-and-4 with 4:58 to play instead. Matt Bryant missed the field goal and the Vikings ran out the clock.

Ryan supported Quinn’s decision.

“No, we trust Dan,” Ryan said. “He’s going to make those decisions. We have one of the best kickers in the league and our defense had been playing well the entire day. We’re one hundred percent behind it.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Atlanta Falcons

Falcons sign nine players to reserve/future contracts 
Falcons sign nine players to reserve/future contracts 

The Falcons signed signed nine players to reserve/future contracts on Monday.  Quarterback Garrett Grayson, safety Marcelis Branch, cornerback Deante Burton (a former wide receiver), offensive lineman Daniel Brunskill, defensive lineman Taniela Tupou, defensive lineman Joey Ivie, defensive end J’Terious (JT) Jones, wide receiver Reggie...
Falcons slated to pick  26th overall in NFL draft
Falcons slated to pick 26th overall in NFL draft

After the divisional round of the playoffs, the order for the 2018 NFL draft is mostly set through the first 28 positions. The Falcons are slotted at the 26th position, the same place they traded up to last season to select defensive end Takkarist McKinley. The 2018 NFL Draft will be held April 26-28 in Dallas.  Last season, the Falcons were slated...
Report: Freeman may need knee surgery 
Report: Freeman may need knee surgery 

Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, who rushed for seven yards on 10 carries and missed a blitz pick up in the playoff loss to the Eagles, believes that he might need knee surgery, according to an ESPN.com report. Freeman was listed on the team’s injury report with a knee injury. He said, in the report, that he suffered sprained posterior...
Falcons to play six games against playoff teams in 2018
Falcons to play six games against playoff teams in 2018

The Falcons opponents for the 2018 seasons were set back in December when they were locked into the third place in the NFC South. In addition to Carolina and New Orleans (twice), the Falcons will play only two other playoff teams in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The Falcons will face the third-place teams from the NFC West (Arizona) and NFC North (Green...
Falcons have free agency decisions to make on Poe, Clayborn, Bryant 
Falcons have free agency decisions to make on Poe, Clayborn, Bryant 

The Falcons, after being eliminated from the playoffs, have some important personnel decisions to make before free agency begins in March. The NFL salary cap has been projected to be between $174 million and $178 million, according to NFL Media. The official number will not be known until the start of the new business year in March. Last season&rsquo...
More Stories