Roddy White made headlines this week when he said that the Falcons "have the pedigree" to finish the regular season 16-0. Welp ... so much for that.
The worst part of Sunday for the Falcons wasn't necessarily that they lost for the first time this season, 31-27 to arch-rival New Orleans -- though their perfect record is gone, the Falcons remain in great shape in the NFC South and in the conference standings in general. What might bug White and his teammates most is that the Falcons' offense had a pair of chances to win the game late, only to fall short both times.
And it was White at the heart of those opportunities.
On 4th-and-goal from the New Orleans 2 with 1:46 left, Matt Ryan tried to throw under pressure to White in the end zone. But the Saints' Jabari Greer jumped the route and batted the pass down, preserving a four-point lead.
A little more than a minute later, with Atlanta down to its last shot on offense, Ryan scrambled and fired one deep to White, who had beaten two Saints defenders. Unfortunately for the Falcons, White struggled to find the football as he turned around, and Ryan's pass fell harmlessly to the turf.
The Falcons' defense deserves it fair share of blame for coughing up 31 points and 440 yards. And it's hard to rip on Ryan too much after he threw for a career-best 411 yards.
The Atlanta offense failed to get it done in the clutch, though, and a lot of that can be traced back to the lack of a run game. Michael Turner managed just 15 yards on 13 carries (a pitiful 1.2 yards-per-carry average), and he was stuffed on a goal-line carry prior to that fourth-down incompletion to White. Earlier, the Falcons had to settle for a 20-yard field goal after bogging down deep in New Orleans territory.
Those misses will come back to haunt just about any team, but they're not supposed to happen when you pit an offensive juggernaut like the Falcons against a troubled defense like the Saints. The Falcons are obviously still a force to be reckoned with in the NFC, thanks to their 8-1 record. Sunday's loss, however, might sting for awhile, if only because the Falcons' high-powered offense started firing blanks at the worst possible times.