It was another tough day at the office for the Falcons who fell to 2-5 on the season. The Falcons were out performed in every phase of the game, and after a terrible performance against the Cardinals last season in which Matt Ryan threw five interceptions, the Cardinals defense this year was equally as stifling. They picked Ryan off four times on their way to a lopsided 27-13 victory.
The first quarter was a tale of two offenses struggling to get anything going as the Falcons led 3-0 at the end of the quarter. Steven Jackson was held to nothing on the ground throughout the day. The Falcons tried to get the run going early, but were stuffed on nearly every running play. Jackson was held to 11 carries for only six yards. The Falcons were behind most of the day, so running the ball a lot wasn't really an option.
The second quarter was when things exploded for the Falcons. The Cardinals would score a touchdown to make it 7-3, and then the Falcons defense responded when the offense couldn't. On the next Cardinals possession, Asante Samuel recorded his first interception of the year.
The Falcons drive would stall in the red zone, but they were able to add on another field goal to pull within 7-6.
After that, it was all Cardinals for the rest of the game. The Cardinals would not give up anymore points before the fourth quarter and would score 21 points in the second quarter. The Falcons didn't generate too much pressure on Carson Palmer and he and Larry Fitzgerald did well against the Falcons defense.
But it was really the play of rookie running back Andre Ellington that made the difference. He had 15 rushes for 154 yards and an 80 yard touchdown run. The Falcons had no answer for the rookie speedster and he cut and tore through this unit to a career day.
The Cardinals defense was the true enemy today though. The Falcons would work methodically up the field with short gains for the most part before a drive would stall, or Ryan would throw an interception. The Falcons just couldn't get anything going on a consistent basis because of turnovers and lack of offensive execution. Most of this can be placed on the injuries and the poor offensive line, but Matt Ryan did make a couple of bad throws that led to two of the interceptions.
Overall, it was a day full of ineptitude from the running and passing game in which this Falcons offense could do nothing against this incredibly physical and nasty Arizona defense.
In embarrassing fashion, Matt Ryan had the most rushing yards out of himself, Jackson or Jacquizz Rodgers. Rodgers had two carries for eight yards, and Ryan had one carry for 13 yards. In a day in which the Falcons were going up against the number seven rush defense in the league, they had no answer for Arizona's aggressive and fearsome front seven.
The offensive line couldn't hold a block as evidenced by the Cardinals recording eight tackles for loss on the day.
This was key for the Cardinals because it allowed them to just sit on the pass. And even though Harry Douglas had another exceptional day (12 catches for 121 yards) and Drew Davis did his part as well, the Cardinals forced the Falcons hand by making them throw the ball 61 times.
Factor that in with the constant pressure the Cardinals had on Ryan (four sacks and many hurries), and it was a recipe for disaster for the Falcons offense.
The Falcons had 28 more total plays then the Cardinals, but the Cardinals had 348 total yards to the Falcons 292. The Cardinals offense was far more efficient, especially in that decisive second quarter.
The Falcons added a touchdown late to make it 27-13, and even recovered an onside kick. But Matt Ryan would throw two more interceptions on the Falcons next two drives to ward off any chance of a comeback.
To the defense's credit, they did make adjustments in the second half and held the Cardinals to 10 points, which wasn't bad considering all the turnovers and great field position the Cardinals were given throughout the second half.
It was all the Cardinals defense today. Now comes a long flight back to Flowery Branch in which the Falcons are watching their season slip away at a rapid rate.
We've been spoiled over the last five seasons watching the Falcons play very well in the regular season. Those days feel far behind as the Falcons now struggle to even get a win.
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