A jump ball to Julio Jones is normally a win.
This one wasn’t.
The Falcons’ All-Pro wide receiver thought he should have come down with a jump-ball pass with 1:05 remaining against the Eagles in the NFC Divisional playoff game Saturday.
Trailing 15-10, the Falcons drove down to the Eagle’s 2-yard line. On fourth-and-goal, the Falcons called a sprint out play. Jones was supposed to make a sharp cut outside against man-to-man coverage and be open. When Jones came out of his break, there was contact with Eagles defensive back Jalen Mills and he went to the ground.
Quarterback Matt Ryan looked to the other side of the field for tight end Levine Toilolo. He wasn’t open. Ryan whipped his head back around to Jones and tossed the ball up where only the acrobatic receiver could go up and get it. He made a similar play earlier in the season against the Patriots.
This time the pass was incomplete.
The Eagles ran out the clock to advance to the NFC Championship game.
“I don’t know,” Jones said about him going to the ground. “But at the end of the day, I can make those plays. I ended up on the ground when I came out of my route. That’s a tough call to make in that situation at the end of the game. That was it.”
Jones wouldn’t say if he felt he was interfered with on the play by Mills.
“I ended up on the ground,” Jones said. “In that situation, it’s very difficult for an official to call that play.”
Jones finished with nine catches for 101 yards.
The final drive was alive in part from a big catch by Jones on fourth-and-six from Atlanta’s 42-yard line with 3:30 to play. He broke open over the middle for a 20-yard gain. The Falcons kept marching and appeared prime to pull out the victory.
The Falcons called four pass plays after getting to the 9-yard line. They never tried to power the ball with the run at the Eagles.
Jones didn’t have a problem with the play-calling with the game on the line.
“I felt like everything went well,” Jones said. “We just have to make them come to life. We are in this together. Whatever call is (sent) down, we have to execute it and make it come to life.”
The Falcons’ once-potent offense was held scoreless in the second half.
“I haven’t watched film,” Jones said on the reason for the loss. “I don’t know yet. We weren’t sustaining drives in the second half. I know that. It’s hard to know because I didn’t see the whole field when I was out there.”
The Falcons reign as the defending NFC champions is over. They went to Super Bowl LI, but had trouble recapturing the offensive magic this season under new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.
“It’s been a long season,” Jones said. “I’m very proud of everyone on the team. They really fought and things like that. It’s just really hard to tell you things we could have done better. I need to watch the film ... but the effort was definitely there.
“We were going out there and competing. Coming out here to Philly, no matter where we play at, we come out here and play for one another.”
Jones defended Sarkisian, but said the offense underachieved.
“We are way better than we played this year,” Jones said. “But that’s just on us. We were just (not) executing, taking advantage of opportunities. We just have to keep working together.
“Everybody is always talking about last year. This year. This and that. You always have certain pieces that are introduced. This year we (had) new pieces. Everybody has to be on the same page and it takes time. You can’t do it in one year. I’m very pleased with the way we played, the effort that we gave.”
Sarkisian hadn’t been in the NFL since 2005 and was expected to have some growing pains.
“It was Sark’s first year here with us,” Jones said. “It was a great. It was a great experience. We just have to keep building off of it.
“At the end of the day, it was him learning us and us learning him. What we need to look for and things like that, taking advantage of opportunities. I mean it was just all on us. It was never on just Sark. Everybody was like, ‘You have a new offensive coordinator. He needs to do this. He needs to do that.’”
Jones seemed like he wants to continue playing for Sarkisian.
“He’s very aggressive,” Jones said. “Sark is an aggressive guy. He’s going to call plays for your and get the ball in your hands. He’s a great coach. We have to keep working together.”