atljbo Posted October 27, 2008 Share Posted October 27, 2008 Falcons fumbled their chanceBy Jeff Schultz | Sunday, October 26, 2008, 08:15 PMThe Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionPhiladelphia — 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. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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