EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Three Thoughts from the Falcons’ 25-20 victory over the Jets in the rain...
1. The Falcons ended their three-game losing skid against AFC East opponents, but it didn’t come easily. Atlanta continues to look less like the dominant 2016 team and more like the ’15 team, with an inconsistent offense struggling with turnovers and a defense prone to giving up chunks of yardage. Though, the good news from Sunday’s win was Atlanta’s ability to withstand and bounce back from some big mistakes early in the game. At 4–3, the Falcons are still in good position in the NFC South race, and, oddly enough, have all six of their division games still ahead of them. But are the defending NFC champions good enough to win the division this season? The results so far are very iffy.
2. Blame it on the rain? There were five botched quarterback-center exchanges, four by the Falcons and one by the Jets, largely due to a steady rainstorm that could be described at times as torrential. Josh McCown recovered the Jets’ bad snap, but the Falcons turned over the ball three of the four times that Alex Mack and Matt Ryan fumbled the exchange, leading to the Jets’ first six points of the day and one botched Atlanta two-point attempt.
3. Muhammad Wilkerson recorded not only his first sack of the season, but the first sack overall for the Jets defensive line … in the eighth game of the season. Wilkerson didn’t practice this week, held out with shoulder and toe injuries, but he made the kind of impact the Jets used to regularly depend on from him. Wilkerson also picked up a tackle for a loss that helped stunt another Falcons drive when they were backed up against their own end zone. Despite the Jets’ surprising start to the season, the play of the defensive line—expected to be the strength of this team—has been a head-scratcher. Injuries to Wilkerson and Leonard Williams have been one reason, but a bright spot from the loss to the Falcons was Wilkerson making a few plays against the Falcons that reminded of his old self.