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Falcons falter late against Patriots


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Falcons falter late against Patriots

By D. Orlando Ledbetter

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Beating the perennial Super Bowl contender New England Patriots, the Falcons knew, would take some precession and grit. And a break or two wouldn't hurt.

The Falcons were about as precise as a team could be Sunday in an annoying drizzle. The performance, especially by the secondary, was gritty too.

But in the catch-a-break department, they were was not as fortunate. A shaky pass interference call seemed to take the steam out of their sails on the way to a 26-10 defeat at Gillette Stadium, Atlanta's first loss of the young season.

"They were the better team today," coach Mike Smith said of the Patriots. "Guys, its real simple and you want to search for answers. They were the better team."

On the key interference call, wide receiver Michael Jenkins started to celebrate what appeared to be his 64-yard touchdown catch, which would have brought the Falcons' a 17-16 third-quarter lead. Until out of the corner of eye, he saw the penalty flag. On replays it appeared that Jenkins gave Patriots defensive back Leigh Bodden a little too much of his right arm to create some separation and was called for offensive pass interference.

The drive stalled and New England went on to hold Atlanta at bay to improve to 2-1, while the Falcons dropped to 2-1 heading into the early-season bye week. If Smith wanted no parts of discussing that play, Jenkins disputed the call.

"I felt like there wasn't anything extra, but the ref thought there was something extra," Jenkins said. "He felt like I pushed off and he made the call."

Running back Michael Turner thought he witnessed a touchdown.

"It looked clean to me," Turner said. "It looked like a normal touchdown catch."

On the ensuing drive, the Patriots took over the game, twice rolling the dice with two fourth-down gambles and making them both. On fourth-and-1 at their own 26, Kevin Faulk picked up two yards. Later in the 16-play drive, on fourth-and-3, Tom Brady connected with Randy Moss on a 21-yard pass over cornerback Brian Williams.

"I played inside because I was expecting a slant right there," Williams said. "He just threw the ball up and he made a good catch."

When the drive bogged down at the Falcons' 15, New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski made a 33-yard field goal to push the lead to 19-10 The Patriots later added a 36-yard touchdown pass to tight end Chris Baker with 7:47 left.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who was returning to the New England area as pro for the first time since playing at Boston College, was disappointed with how the offense sputtered after the call on Jenkins.

"We have to do a better job in responding to that," Ryan said. "I think we came out and didn't do much offensively after that. Sometimes things are not going to go your way during the game. But what you do in those types of situations really says a lot about what type of football team you are. That's something that I definitely think we can improve on."

The Patriots appeared to catch the Falcons off-guard, determined to run the football after passing it almost twice as much in their two previous games. They tossed a heavy dose of Fred Taylor, Kevin Faulk and Laurence Maroney at the Falcons.

"Coach (Bill) Belichick, he'll do one thing one week and then the next week do something different," Smith said. "We did not play the run the way we needed to play the run. It's something that we'll have to improve on."

The Falcons were playing their first game without Peria Jerry, the team's first-round pick and starting nose tackle. The team must now assess the run defense and how it responds to adversity over a long bye week. The Falcons don't play again until Oct. 11 at San Francisco.

"I have to sit with this for two weeks before I get a chance to hit somebody else," linebacker Mike Peterson said. "It's going to be a long bye week for me."



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Randy Moss should have been flagged for offensive pass interference all game long if they used the same standards it took to flag Mike Jenkins. Moss had his arm extended on Grimes in the endzone and also on Williams in the second half.

Totally bogus refs we had this game. Why cant we get some good officials??

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