The Atlanta Falcons continued their losing ways Thursday night at home against the New England Patriots in front of a national television audience, falling 25-0.
Here are the Top 5 observations from Mercedes-Benz Stadium:
1. The Patriots defense is really good. Before we talk about the Falcons, I don't think this loss is all on the Falcons' woes on offense. A lot of credit should be given to the Pats, who improved to 5-0 on the road following the win. The defense has allowed just 13 points over the last three games and are slowly becoming a dark horse in the AFC. You would have liked to have seen the Falcons compete a little more, but they have faced a brutal schedule over the past week, facing two of the best teams in the NFL.
2. The Falcons really missed Cordarrelle Patterson. Losing the team's most consistent player on offense was a big reason the Falcons struggled to put up points Thursday night. Patterson worked out before the game, but his ankle was too sore for him to suit up. Not having Patterson on the field allowed the team to give more attention to the most talented player on offense, rookie Kyle Pitts, who caught three passes for 29 yards.
"It's always tough when you don't have some of your guys out there," said Falcons veteran quarterback Matt Ryan. "C.P. has been such a big part of what we've done offensively."
3. Running the ball on fourth-down was the nail in the coffin. This is where having Patterson would have been extremely helpful. Despite putting up a goose egg on the scoreboard for the entire game, the Falcons had a chance to make it competitive thanks to the defense who had only allowed 13 points before the fourth quarter.
Ben McAdoo to Join Atlanta Falcons NFC South Rival
Ben McAdoo will become an NFL offensive coordinator for the first time since 2015.
Saints Sean Payton: Could Falcons' NFC South Rival Lose Coach to Cowboys?
If Payton would ever exit the NFC South? That would be helpful to the Atlanta Falcons' pursuit of the top spot in the division.
Where’s Terrell Go in NFL Draft Do-Over?
The Atlanta Falcons were criticized harshly after 'reaching' for A.J. Terrell with the 16th pick in the NFL Draft.
Following an interception from A.J. Terrell, the offense was granted good field position and it marched down inside the red zone with two minutes left in the third quarter. On third-and-1, Arthur Smith dialed up a run for fullback Keith Smith that resulted in no gain and a fourth down. Smith opted to go for it on fourth down (right move), but went back to the ground with Qadree Ollison, who had not seen a carry the entire season before Thursday night. The Patriots predictably stopped the run again and the Falcons turned the ball over on downs.
Had Cordarrelle Patterson been the back, that's a more successful play. You could have drawn up Kyle Pitts on a crossing route, or putting Pitts in the backfield might have even gotten the job done. A quarterback sneak could also have converted. There were just so many superior options and Smith chose incorrectly. If the Falcons found the first down and scored on that drive, it's a one possession game in the fourth quarter and the momentum is in the Falcons' favor in their building.
4. The interceptions aren't a red flag. The Falcons throwing four interceptions in the fourth quarter made this game appear a lot more lopsided than it was, especially considering two of those picks came from the backup quarterbacks, Josh Rosen and Feleipe Franks. Ryan's pair of picks weren't good either, but the former MVP was under duress all night from the poor offensive line that surrendered four sacks. It was bound to happen eventually.
If anything, the interceptions will force the Falcons to wake up because it made a bad loss that much worse.
5. The Falcons have lost all their room for error. Sitting at 4-6, the Falcons are still within striking distance of a playoff spot, but the two losses this week have only made it tougher. The schedule does let up a little bit after Thanksgiving against the Jaguars, but that is now a must-win game. Every game has to be must-win for the team in order to have a shot, and if Sunday wasn't the wakeup call the team needed, Thursday was the snooze button.
Let's just hope they don't hit the snooze button again.