Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) lies on the field after being sacked against the Minnesota Vikings during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015, in Atlanta. The Minnesota Vikings won 20-10. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
John Bazemore
November 30, 2015

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) Coach Dan Quinn knows the Atlanta Falcons' playoff hopes are going dim after a 5-0 start.

His team is 1-5 since and has dropped out of the postseason picture with a precarious hold on second place in the NFC South.

A loss this weekend at Tampa Bay (5-6) would be Atlanta's fifth straight and given how poorly quarterback Matt Ryan is playing, the Falcons can't seem to do much right.

They missed a season-high 15 tackles in Sunday's 20-10 home loss to Minnesota and had no answer for Vikings running back Adrian Peterson as the 2012 NFL MVP gashed the defense for 158 yards rushing, a 5.5 average and two touchdowns.

''He was a big reason for that, but every time you're going against that kind of back, you better get down on the legs and wrap and roll,'' Quinn said. ''That's the message.''

Atlanta, which began the day ranked among the league leaders in run defense, gave up a season-high 191 yards on the ground and 13 total plays of 10 or more yards.

Cornerback Desmond Trufant is confident the problems are correctable.

''We put the work in, we practice hard, we work hard, but for whatever reason, it's not showing up on Sunday,'' Trufant said. ''We just have to keep pushing, stick together and the only way is up.''

The offense played even worse.

Running backs Tevin Coleman and Terron Ward, filling in for injured starter Devonta Freeman, each had a costly mistake.

Coleman lost a first-quarter fumble on a 46-yard run because he didn't have the ball secured high and tightly enough. Ward was whistled for unnecessary roughness in the second quarter.

Reserve tight end Tony Moeaki had a clipping penalty that wiped out a touchdown run in the third.

But the worst mistake came on Ryan's second interception three snaps later, an easy pick for Vikings cornerback Terrence Newman in the end zone.

Quinn has encouraged Ryan to keep the team in the forefront of his mind before sailing passes into tight coverage. Ryan acknowledges that he sometimes tries to do too much with the offense struggling to score.

''As a competitor you want to make those plays to get everybody going and to get the ball into the end zone, but that wasn't the situation to do it,'' Ryan said. ''I'm a better player than that to know when it's time to ditch it and throw it away.''

Ryan, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, has 10 interceptions in the last seven games and has lost three of seven fumbles, but Quinn has faith that his franchise player will be smarter with the football.

''I do want to emphasize that Matt's a really good player, guys,'' Quinn said. ''We've made some really good plays, but the turnover is the biggest factor of what's hurt us. That's what we're most challenged on.''

Notes: Quinn is hopeful Freeman, the NFL's eighth-leading rusher, returns this week after missing one game with a concussion. ... WR Devin Hester, out all season with a turf toe injury, is expected to fully participate in practice when the team returns to the field on Wednesday.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

You May Like