The Falcons defense was asked to defend a one-point lead with 1:55 to play on Monday night and they couldn’t do it.
Jets quarterback Geno Smith completed four passes and scrambled for a first down to move the Jets into position for Nick Folk’s game-winning 43-yard field goal. Smith was composed and controlled during the drive, showing none of the skittishness that helped lead to 11 turnovers in the first four games. The offensive game plan and strong work from the supporting cast had much to do with that, but so did the play of the Falcons defense.
The Falcons defense did that thanks to aneffort that was short on consistent pass rush and long on soft coverage in the secondary. That combination gave Smith time to throw and people to throw to all night, something that hasn’t been the case often in the first four weeks. The Jets didn’t have gaudy rushing numbers, but they were generating enough on the ground to remain out of long third down situations most of the night. That led to a 6-of-11 conversion rate for the Jets and only added to Smith’s overall comfort level.
It was a passive approach by the Falcons defense against a quarterback who spent the first four weeks showing he could be rattled fairly easily. That’s a big reason why the Falcons are 1-4, a record that has been part of the path to a playoff berth in just six of 118 cases since 1990.