Jump to content

Falcons fumbled their chance


atljbo

Recommended Posts

Falcons fumbled their chance

By Jeff Schultz | Sunday, October 26, 2008, 08:15 PM

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Philadelphia — The goal-line call backfired. The franchise cover boy was intercepted twice. The coach burned his last timeout, and a few seconds later suddenly looked like the loser in a pie fight.

At some point, there figured to be a market correction in this Falcons’ season. It came Sunday.

They weren’t humiliated. They don’t do anything that left you to think, “Wow, that win over the Lions — such a fluke.” But they reminded us where they really sit in this reconstruction process. Better, but not there yet.

“There were some questionable things that happened out there,” Lawyer Milloy said, using a veteran’s politically correct reference to officiating. “But the fact is, we didn’t help out the situation.”

Philadelphia won, 27-14. The fact the Falcons had an opportunity to win this game probably equally boosted and dented their egos.

A team goes to Green Bay and upsets the Packers, then comes back home and upsets the Chicago — suddenly it goes into the bye week at 4-2 and everybody’s darlings. It’s easy to forget at some point that things will go wrong. People will look bad.

Adam Jennings, the Falcons’ punt returner, has looked so bad so often that even officials are just starting to just assume he fumbled. He looked timid most of the day. With less than three minutes left and the Falcons having closed the Eagles’ lead to 20-14, he picked a strange time to take a risk. Jennings ran up on a short punt and lunged to catch it, then pulled back at the last moment. Philly recovered the ball, believing Jennings had touched it. Officials agreed. TV replays confirmed otherwise.

Head coach Mike Smith screamed. He ran onto the field and demanded a replay challenge. He clutched the red replay flag, which brought out the red in his face. But he was told there would be no replay. Why? Because the play clock wasn’t inside of two minutes — there was 2:28 left — and the Falcons were out of timeouts. Smith had used the team’s last two following the Eagles’ two previous plays, preferring to stop the clock twice before the two-minute warning.

Now, we can debate all day who is most at fault for this potential game-changing moment: 1) Jennings for being anywhere near the ball. 2) The official who made the erroneous call. 3) Smith for spending timeouts on consecutive plays before the two-minute warning, taking away a replay challenge.

But if you’re the head coach of the team, what are you probably thinking off after the game? Smith watched as the Eagles’ Brian Westbrook turned the blunder into a game-clinching touchdown. He can say publicly later, “My thing was to try to conserve as much time as possible.” But bottom line: the decision backfired.

“You can never say there’s one play in a football game that makes the difference,” Smith said. “There are a number of things we’d like to have back.”

He is right about that. Ryan would like to have back two throws. He forced the ball into coverage in the first quarter, leading to an interception by Asante Samuel.

In the third, the Falcons trailed, 17-7, but had a second-and-goal on the Eagles’ 1-yard line. Coaches gave Ryan the option to throw to Roddy White on a fade route in the end zone if there was single coverage. Ryan took the option and under threw the pass. It was picked off by Lito Sheppard.

About the play option: Why? When a team has a 244-pound running back, Michael Turner, to hand the ball to, isn’t simplicity the best option?

Milloy had his own issues. He leveled tight end L.J. Smith with a shoulder to the face while trying to break up a pass play, knocking the player out of the game with a concussion. The personal foul penalty led to a field goal. The Eagles were measured with their comments. But there’s a chance Milloy will get fined.

He defended the hit later, saying: “If he catches it and I make the hit and cause a fumble, then I look like a superstar.”

That’s not the way it folded. Not on this day. A market correction was overdue.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, ole Jeff Schultz undoubtedly grinned from ear-to-ear after Sunday's Falcons-Eagles game. Having to write half-way favorable articles about the Falcons must kill him. It's much easier - and more fun - to denigrate a person or team.

(Writing unfavorable sports articles being more fun to the writer is not just my opinion. Many sports writers, both local and national, in their more honest moments, have admitted to this over the years.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Every other coach in the league spends that Timeout to try and get as much time as possible, you don't keep one timeout just in case your PR makes a mistake with 28 secs left before you reach the 2 min warning and all calls that aren't clear are reviewed, way to understand football AJC I can always count on you for that..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gee, you'd think this guy wrote this article before the game then went into the closet and prayed all game long for the Falcons to lose.

Honestly, let's look at this. Who at the start of the year would've even thought we would be in that game with 2mins and change. And then lose a chance to win the game on a BLOWN CALL.

We still got a good chance at a winning or atleast .500 record. This is why I can't stand 99% of sports writers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Adam Jennings, the Falcons’ punt returner, has looked so bad so often that even officials are just starting to just assume he fumbled. He looked timid most of the day. With less than three minutes left and the Falcons having closed the Eagles’ lead to 20-14, he picked a strange time to take a risk. Jennings ran up on a short punt and lunged to catch it, then pulled back at the last moment. Philly recovered the ball, believing Jennings had touched it. Officials agreed. TV replays confirmed otherwise.

Head coach Mike Smith screamed. He ran onto the field and demanded a replay challenge. He clutched the red replay flag, which brought out the red in his face. But he was told there would be no replay. Why? Because the play clock wasn’t inside of two minutes — there was 2:28 left — and the Falcons were out of timeouts. Smith had used the team’s last two following the Eagles’ two previous plays, preferring to stop the clock twice before the two-minute warning.

Now, we can debate all day who is most at fault for this potential game-changing moment: 1) Jennings for being anywhere near the ball. 2) The official who made the erroneous call. 3) Smith for spending timeouts on consecutive plays before the two-minute warning, taking away a replay challenge.

But if you’re the head coach of the team, what are you probably thinking off after the game? Smith watched as the Eagles’ Brian Westbrook turned the blunder into a game-clinching touchdown. He can say publicly later, “My thing was to try to conserve as much time as possible.” But bottom line: the decision backfired.

:huh:

Man, I wish I had taped the game, but this is not even the way I remember it happening. I thought they got no points off of that play, but just got the ball back at the spot of the "muff". Can someone clarify what Schultz is talking about here for me? Thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:huh:

Man, I wish I had taped the game, but this is not even the way I remember it happening. I thought they got no points off of that play, but just got the ball back at the spot of the "muff". Can someone clarify what Schultz is talking about here for me? Thanks.

Westbrook scored on a long TD run following the "muffed" punt to put the Iggles up 27-14.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Every other coach in the league spends that Timeout to try and get as much time as possible, you don't keep one timeout just in case your PR makes a mistake with 28 secs left before you reach the 2 min warning and all calls that aren't clear are reviewed, way to understand football AJC I can always count on you for that..

I disagree.....

Had Smith not used the timeout, the clock would've stopped with 2 minutes left and again at the change of possession. The Eagles were punting from deep in their territory which would left you with the ball near midfield with over a minute 50 seconds and a timeout to burn. I could see conserving time if it was a drive that had to go the length of the field, but the Falcons would have had great field position, plenty of time and a timeout to score the go ahead score. In theory, holding the timeout causes the defense to defend the entire field during a two minute drill as opposed to just the sidelines, just like the Chicago game.

Another mistake was Smith calling timeout after the second down, particularly considering the down and distance, plus that the Falcons hadn't stopped the Eagles rushing attack since Anderson left the game. I was surprised the Eagles didn't convert. Not using the timeout there, with the way things played out, would have had the Eagles punting, 2 minutes on the clock and two TO's for the Falcons. Had they not stopped them on that 2nd or 3rd down, the Falcons still had 2 timeouts and the two minute warning to stop the Eagles on another set of downs.

This, in the least, was a learning experience for Smith.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...