Bradley, Schultz on Falcons’ playoff loss
The Falcons’ season ended in disappointment with a 15-10 loss to the Eagles in the NFC Divisional playoff game Saturday in Philadelphia.
The goal of returning to the Super Bowl to avenge last year’s historic collapse is over.
Here’s how AJC columnist’s Mark Bradley and Jeff Schultz saw the defeat:
The team infamous for blowing the Super Bowl just blew another playoff game. Yes, it was on the road. Yes, it was against the NFC’s No. 1 seed. Yes, it was windy. But this No. 1 seed lost its No. 1 quarterback last month. There can be no excuses. The Falcons had a clear path to the conference championship game and fell flat.
If any doubt remained as to the extent of the misallocation of offensive resources in their first post-Shanahan season, the final verdict was delivered here. The Falcons lost 15-10. Their 10 points came off Philadelphia turnovers. They were outgained 334 yards to 281 by a team working behind its backup quarterback.
The Falcons had a chance at the end. (This is the NFL. You always have a chance at the end.) They were within one yard of pulling ahead and conjured up yet another in a season chock-a-block with lousy red-zone plays. Matt Ryan took the snap and rolled right, thereby cutting off half the field. Finding nobody open, Ryan threw in the general direction of Julio Jones, which is never a bad idea. This time it was.
Jones mistimed his leap. The pass sailed through the end zone. Game over. Season over. Let the recriminations begin.
If there was even a trace of justification for the blown lead and the manner in which the Falcons’ season ended a year ago, it’s that they lost to arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history, and a coach and a franchise that has become in associated all-time-best arguments.
But this wasn’t Tom Brady. It was Nick Foles. Until a few weeks ago, he was a backup, on the sideline, where he belonged. This wasn’t Bill Belichick and New England. It was Doug Pederson and the Philadelphia Eagles, who until Saturday hadn’t won a playoff game since 2008.
Then again, this wasn’t the Falcons, either, at least not the version we expected, given the talent level and where the bar was set in 2016.