The Atlanta Falcons had a big 20-3 lead against the New York Jets on Sunday in London, but they'd seen the Jets close the gap to 20-17 in the fourth quarter.
This had an all-too-familiar feel for Falcons fans.
The Falcons regained possession with 6:55 left in the game. Like many NFL games, this one was coming down to the fourth quarter, including last week when the Falcons blew a fourth quarter lead against the Washington Football Team.
Falcons head coach and play-caller Arthur Smith was criticized for being too conservative against Washington as the Falcons failed to move the ball, kill any clock, or score any points, leaving the door open for Washington's comeback.
On Sunday in a similar situation, quarterback Matt Ryan began the drive with a 39-yard pass to rookie tight end Kyle Pitts that kickstarted a 4:36 touchdown drive that for all intents and purposes killed the game.
Smith, a rookie head coach himself, took ownership of the conservative play-calling that contributed to Atlanta's loss against Washington. He praised Matt Ryan's decision to use the Pitts option on the big play to open the drive.
Said the first-year boss: "We're not going to live on our fears. We'll be aggressive when we need to be. Had good blocking up front. Didn't give up any sacks today against a really good front. I want guys to have initiative."
"And Matt launched it. It was a big-time play. We needed some momentum. We weren't going to sit back two yards in a cloud of dust."
"We'll continue to improve. Plenty of things to improve on: the kicking game, turnovers. Really pleased with our team and team efforts."
Ryan was pleased to take advantage of the play-call from his head coach and get the ball to his star rookie.
"Yeah, I thought a great play call by Art to start that drive," said Ryan. "You got some quarters-type coverage where guys were getting down low to stop some of our intermediate play-action pass game."
"To slip Kyle back there was a really good call. Great play by Kyle. It really was the jump-start for us on the last drive, got us going."
"Wasn't perfect on that last drive, but we made the plays we needed to make. Great to get Mike [Davis] in the end zone at the end of the game."
Davis punched it in from three yards out to cap off the 75 yard drive that pushed the score to 27-17 with just 2:19 left in the game.
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It was a different attack and different outcome from the previous week when Atlanta had an eight point lead, the ball, and 12:42 left on the clock against Washington and managed to run eight plays on two possessions before falling behind 34-30.
Smith took ownership of the conservative play-calling against Washington and corrected it against the Jets.
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