Sunday Night wrap-up: Patriots pummel Falcons

Getty Images

The Patriots didn’t have to come back this time.

They just started bashing the Falcons from the start, and never let up.

New England rolled to a 23-7 win over the Falcons, extending their streak of unanswered points against Atlanta to 54 before the Falcons got on the board late.

This one simply was never close, as the Falcons couldn’t do a thing with the league’s worst defense (at least in terms of yards allowed).

The Patriots have proven over the years they can beat teams in multiple ways, but generally by being diverse on offense. Sunday, the defense made a case for the first time this season, though it’s unclear if they were taking advantage of a struggling Falcons team or making progress.

But the larger point stood, as it did in February in Houston. The Patriots are simply better coached, and better than the Falcons, and time only made any potential edge in young talent the Falcons might have had more negligible. And also, mentally tougher.

Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:

1. Never mind exorcising the ghosts of last year’s Super Bowl, the Falcons need to prove they’re still good at football this year.

They’re 3-3 after walking in off a pair of oddball losses to the Bills and Dolphins, and have back-to-back road trips on deck. Granted, those trips are to the also-scuffling Jets and Panthers, but the Falcons lack a bit of an identity at the moment.

They’re still clearly getting used to new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, and his decision-making deserves scrutiny. The early fourth-quarter trip to the red zone was a real mess, and they’re probably fortunate the fog kept people from seeing it.

Running Taylor Gabriel on an end-around on fourth-and-goal from the 1 was a mystery, and when it lost 5 yards it seemed to sum up their night.

They’re only benefitting from the fact their division is still wide open. The Saints are leading at the moment at 4-2, but it’s reasonable to be skeptical of their streak. With the Panthers dropping two in a row and the Bucs losing three straight, it’s hard to see who really wants to win the NFL South right now.

2. Falcons rookie linebacker Duke Riley isn’t a household name, and you wouldn’t think he’d have such a big impact on a game.

But when the third-rounder from LSU left the game with a knee injury, the Patriots pounced.

The Falcons moved safety Kemal Ishmael up into the box in his absence, and the Patriots immediately started leaning on their run game.

Patriots running back Rex Burkhead popped three separate 9-yard runs in the aftermath, as the New England worked them from the inside out.

3. Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is on historic pace, despite the fact the Falcons don’t throw it to him nearly enough.

In the second quarter, he topped 8,000 receiving yards, in just his 85th career game.

Only Hall of Famer Lance Alworth has gotten there more quickly, and he needed 83 games to get there.

If Jones can stay healthy, he should be able to challenge some of the biggest numbers in the game, as long as they use him. He hasn’t gotten the same kind of attention under Sarkisian, as a third-quarter shot was just the second time he was targeted in the red zone this year.

There’s no real excuse for that.

When he finally plucked the ball off Malcolm Butler‘s head in the fourth quarter, it looked like he was frustrated and determined to end the skid all at the same time. It doesn’t have to be that hard, when you have a player like Jones, you feed him.

4. And if Jones is salty for not getting enough looks (and there are no indications he is), Devonta Freeman ought to be as well (though there are no indications he is).

Freeman only got 15 touches Sunday night (12 carries and three receptions), which is hard to explain against such a welcoming defense.

5. When the Jets were being disassembled, it seemed like David Harris going to the Patriots was the perfect fit, and the best opportunity for a guy to find a similar role on a better team.

But Sunday night was the first time he started for the Patriots, and he barely played the first six games.

Harris had just seven defensive snaps for the Patriots in the first month and a half, and might have seen more action Sunday if the Falcons had bothered to run more.

He’s still a solid run defender, and when they were without Dont'a Hightower, it’s clear he has value to the Patriots.

57 responses to “Sunday Night wrap-up: Patriots pummel Falcons

  1. MVP Matt Ryan everyone! Let’s give him a big hand!

    (Sorry the Super Bowl window is shut so quickly, Atlanta…)

  2. I’m glad I was wrong. This was the best performance that I have seen from that Pats all year long by far. Brady had time to throw and he did so effectively thanks to Gronkowski and Hogan opening up the field. Dion Lewis closed the game out with some great running maybe try getting him the ball more often. Defense did well although Falcons play calling was vanilla. Nice win although they will play a much better defense next week. Go Pats!

  3. As a diehard pats fan, I did NOT see this coming. With our defense, I thought something like 27-24, 27-23 was going to be the score. With that being said…

    We are onto the Chargers! And OUSTANDING job by the defense. Also, can someone tell me what the hell atlanta was doing on 4th and 7 at midfield?!

  4. A handful of plays went against Atlanta early in this game and it’s like they have no mental toughness.

    Also, it looked to me like Atlanta’s play calling was intended to take advantage of their team speed advantage, but I think NE closed that gap in the offseason.

  5. I would love to watch one NFL game where the officials don’t absolutely suck. Is that too much to ask for? In Roger’s NFL, I guess it is.

  6. Shanahan was a huge loss for them Falcons. It would not surprise me at all if Sarkasian was fired in the near future. Honestly, I would have let him go when he called a pass and a WR run back to back from the 2 inch line.

  7. Pats stars and no names played hard and well. Atlanta’s stars were pretty much nowhere to be seen.

    The only reason it wasn’t 30-0 was Jones pulling that INT out of Butler’s clutches in the end zone and turning it into a TD.

    Good team win for the Pats and major improvement in the defense.

  8. I’m a long time Pats fan and appreciate that NE controlled the game but poor play calling on the part of the Falcons and two missed field goals made it easier.

    Like every season with the exception of 2007, the Patriots start slow and get better. Why anyone would doubt Belichick and Brady is beyond me.

  9. The Patriots played a good game, and they outcoached a very disjointed Falcons team. The Falcons have some great offensive talent that is being wasted under Sarkisian…imo

  10. The Pats could have scored another TD at the end of the game with a 1st down on the 12 yard line with about 1:50 on the clock, but they just took a knee to end the game, which shows the respect BB has for opposing teams. The Pats main D is 4-2-5 with Hightower and Kyle Van Noy as the starters with Roberts coming in for for the extra DB on obvious running plays. Harris will be used more as the season goes along but LB is the toughest position to learn in the Pats defense. Plus at Harris’s age BB most likely wants him to learn the D first and to be ready to go for the stretch run and the playoffs.

    The D is coming around nicely as is the Offense, although the play calling is questionable at times.

  11. Two things in my opinion.

    1) Falcons never got that SB loss out of their head.

    2) Offense hasn’t been the same without Kyle Shanahan since he left for SanFran.

    Pats still have a bad D and it will continue to show in the coming weeks.

  12. It was a complete horror show for the Falcons. From the play calling to Matt Ryan’s decision making and throws it was a mess.

    Not only was Ryan missing receivers but the play calls seemed to ignore what the defense was giving the offense.

    It seemed like the Patriots were content to take what was open and had several long methodical drives.

  13. Just asking:
    Wasn’t that “roughing the passer” hit on Brady’s interception the same as the hit on Aaron Rogers?
    Outside the pocket; Hit after the throw; Rogers: no penalty; Brady: flag.

  14. “The Saints are leading at the moment at 4-2, but it’s reasonable to be skeptical of their streak. With the Panthers dropping two in a row and the Bucs losing three straight, it’s hard to see who really wants to win the NFL South right now.”

    So the Saints winning 4 straight by 2 scores each game isn’t “wanting” to win the “NFL” South right now?

  15. They kept apologizing for the tv angle…but seeing the game from the QB’s/RB’s POV is AWESOME.

  16. This team is as hungover as the Panthers were. However they still have the brotherhood and high levels of desperation! Going for it on 4rth and long?!?! Not winning NFL football but probably works well on Xbox.

  17. If the pats go into Denver and win, and at the same time put up 2 tds against that defense…then I’ll be convinced. I still don’t think they can beat a good pass rush and good pass defense. I know Denver is in a hole right now but they play the big teams hard. We shall see. But impressive win tonight.

  18. Falcons are a bunch of frauds. What a mentally weak team. Something doesn’t go right, they fold.

    Another teams hopes and dreams crushed by the Patriots…

  19. sexualspaghetti says:
    October 22, 2017 at 11:29 pm
    I was honestly enjoying the lowered trailing camera angle.

    That was pretty interesting to see, I would have liked to see the same camera from the defensive side of the ball too.

  20. I had a friend tell me it was obvious the SB was fixed because the play calls that the Falcons made at the end were so dumb

    Well, Falcons just proved that they make dumb play calls all the time. Give the ball to Brady at midfield w 2 minutes left in the half? Run a WR sweep at the goal line on 4th down?

  21. When you analyze the the 1st half of SB51, the only reason the Falcons appeared to “dominate” was because of a rare fumble by Blount as the Pats looked good to score, and an extremely rare INT from Brady returned for a score, and the refs incorrectly calling “illegal formation” on the Pats’ successful block of a Falcon kick. Reverse those 3 things and the half time score is 17-6 to Pats instead of 21-3 Falcons. The SB 2nd half was more the Pats not making mistakes than it was the Falcons “choking” – the first half had merely flattered the Falcons.

  22. I know Pats fans are going to look at this as validation, but this is a very bad Atlanta team that could easily be next to winless as (previously) in a discussion about returning to the Super Bowl. Their drop off from February is significantly larger than the Pats, who still have one of the worst defensive units in the NFL. And frankly, even the Pats score was below their average so it wasn’t even a high scoring game. I wouldn’t be anointing them just yet.

  23. Way too many appearances from the officials in this game. They could have kept it in their pocket on half of those penalties.

  24. Another aspect to this win – NFL players watch this and see how well-coached the Pats are and how they always seem to win just when people are counting them out and these players tend to want to play for a team and an organization like that.

  25. 3rd & goal from the 10″ line….2 excellent RB’s and…..OK lets not use either of them….

    Who is Steve Sarkesian and why is he impersonating an OC in the NFL?
    Pathetic

  26. Looked more like the Falcons pummeled themselves. Bad play calling, bad execution, lack of effort = loss. Not taking anything way from the game the Pats played, but please, that was not exactly domination. At least the 3 quarters of bad football I suffered through.

  27. I was pleasantly surprised by the D. The backfield really had it yogether and noted that they had more depth with the lesser known p,ayers than most of us realized. (But you can trust Belichick and Patricia knew)

    The Dline was doing a lot better so kudos, but that growth is not complete.
    The Oline started slow but picked up as the game went on.
    Penalties. Those were not bogus flags. The discipline does need to get a lot better.
    Gronk, you can blow a guy off his feet with a shoulder shrug, no need to do an extended arm shove. And if they are holding onto your arm instead of shoving them off of it swing it the other way and let the refs get a good look at that. (Then say a silent prayer I know)

  28. Flash1287 says:
    October 22, 2017 at 11:26 pm
    TB12 = GOAT

    ———————-
    Not arguing that, but what was key about this game was that the team won, Brady did not have to carry them on his back to pull this out. Not saying he couldn’t have, just that he did not have to.

    Having the GOAT is wonderful. But having to always rely on the GOAT to be the GOAT not so much.

  29. The difference maker was that the Pats started tackling on defense instead of doing the one arm turnstile thing. I credit Harris and Bademosi. The Falcons offense also quickly decided they wanted no part of that, which is a separate issue entirely.

  30. The Falcons offense also quickly decided they wanted no part of that

    That corner running away from Gronk’s lead block on the touchdown was pathetic. At least fall down and try to trip them up.

  31. Pats lose… their out of the running…… Pats win it’s always that the opposing team was awful or had bad play calling…. or Brady is only a system QB….. make up your minds please.

    Let Us Know….

  32. You have Freeman and Coleman yet you sling the ball around as if you have an elite quarterback (newsflash: you don’t). You don’t earn respect or wins with finesse ball when it’s not accompanied by pounding the rock.

  33. mackcarrington says:
    Just asking:
    Wasn’t that “roughing the passer” hit on Brady’s interception the same as the hit on Aaron Rogers?
    Outside the pocket; Hit after the throw; Rogers: no penalty; Brady: flag.
    ———————-
    No. The penalty against Brady was for a helmet to helmet hit. Rogers wasn’t hit in the helmet but wrapped up around the chest area and brought down without any hit to the head.

  34. Matt Ryan is hot garbage, that’s all. Maybe it is time for the Falcons to draft a QB like the Chiefs did.

  35. For those saying the Pats defense is still horrible then you weren’t watching very closely last night (fog aside). Weeks 1-3 there were a ton of missed coverages, poor communication, wide open and I mean wide open receivers. The last two weeks not so much, especially last night. DB’s had very good coverage for the most part, everyone was tackling and there were four, five, six guys swarming to the ball. Much better against the run up the middle, not great but better. There not a top 20 defense yet but they’ve definitely jumped up 10 spots. Clean up the penalties, get a few guys back and they’ll be a top 15 defense.

  36. Outside the pocket; Hit after the throw; Rogers: no penalty; Brady: flag.
    ———————-
    No. The penalty against Brady was for a helmet to helmet hit. Rogers wasn’t hit in the helmet but wrapped up around the chest area and brought down without any hit to the head.
    —————–
    Right. Nobody went at Rogers’ head. Brady has taken a lot more pile driver hits than Rogers and so far, he keeps getting up because he’s not as brittle. That said, even as tough as Brady is, it could all end on the next play. Injuries ruin it all sometimes; I hate that Rogers got hurt.

  37. Pats fans gloating about the defense. Matt Ryan is garbage this year. It was his third highest QBR this year. Try again Pats fans, well know your defense is bad this year.

  38. Both super bowl teams look like they had the traditional next-season hangover at the start of the season. The Pats seem to have eaten the greasy morning cheeseburger and recovered from theirs, while the Falcons are still looking around for their Pepto.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.