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Bills at Falcons: Final score, turnovers remain a problem, Jones and Sanu injured

Posted Oct 1, 2017

The Falcons lost their first game of the season, falling to the Buffalo Bills 23-17 on Sunday.

ATLANTA -- For the second game in a row, the Falcons (3-1) turned the ball over three times. Unlike last week, however, Atlanta was unable to overcome those turnovers, falling to the Buffalo Bills (3-1) 23-17 on Sunday for its first loss of the season.

Here are the key takeaways from the Falcons' loss:

Turnovers continue to be a problem

For the second straight week, the Falcons turned the ball over three times.

The first turnover was a strip-sack on quarterback Matt Ryan, which was picked up and returned 52 yards for a touchdown by Bills rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White. It was initially reviewed to see if Ryan’s hand was moving forward when the ball came out, but the refs judged that there was not enough evidence to overturn the call.

On the Falcons’ ensuing possession after the Bills’ defensive touchdown, Ryan was intercepted by Micah Hyde on a jump ball downfield to Taylor Gabriel. After the interception, Buffalo marched back down the field on offense, eating up over 11 minutes and kicking a field goal to extend its lead to seven. 

In the fourth quarter, down 20-17 and facing a third-and-17 on the Bills' 49-yard line, Ryan's pass bounced off the hands of Nick Williams and was intercepted once again by Hyde. The safety returned the pick 37 yards to put Buffalo in position to take a 23-17 lead.

Injuries plague Falcons at home again

The Falcons lost some key players in the first half of Sunday’s game. Wide receivers Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu stayed in the locker room at halftime with a hip flexor and hamstring injury, respectively. Defensive tackle Jack Crawford also suffered a bicep injury against the Bills, further depleting the Falcons’ defensive line rotation.

Atlanta has dealt with some troubling injuries in both home games this season. In the Falcons’ home opener against the Packers, linebacker Vic Beasley, offensive tackle Ryan Schraeder and defensive lineman Courtney Upshaw all exited the contest early and have yet to make it back on the field.

Run game remains a strength

The Falcons ran the ball effectively against the Packers and the Lions, and they continued that trend once again. Against the Bills, they gained 149 yards on 29 carries, averaging an impressive 5.1 yards per carry.

For the first time this season, it was Tevin Coleman who led Atlanta on the ground. The third-year back gained 79 yards on nine carries, averaging 8.8 yards per carry. Coleman was also the team's leading receiver with four catches for 65 yards.

Devonta Freeman also ran hard on Sunday, carrying the ball 16 times for 58 yards and a touchdown.

Atlanta shows resiliency on responding touchdown drive

After giving up a long, 19-play, 82-yard drive that ended the third and bled into the fourth quarter, the Falcons responded with a critical drive of their own. Behind 17-10, and with its defense needing a breather on the sideline, Atlanta’s offense covered 69 yards in 10 plays and tied the game with a 3-yard touchdown pass on third-down.

Without two of its most important weapons in the passing game, the Falcons turned to Coleman and Freeman to make plays. Coleman gained 46 total yards on the drive, while Freeman picked up 18.

Falcons’ offense held in check during the first quarter

Atlanta has started each game this season on offense, but for the first time in 2017, it did not end its opening drive by putting points on the board. The Falcons looked to be in their usual offensive rhythm, driving the ball into Bills’ territory before incomplete passes on second and third down stalled the drive.

The Falcons didn’t fare much better against the NFL’s No. 1 scoring defense on their second possession, either. Starting at its own 1-yard line, Atlanta again managed to move the ball to midfield but missed a couple of deep shots on the drive and came away empty.

Sunday marked the first time the Falcons had been shutout in the first quarter since their Week 10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Notably, that game, like this one, occurred the week before the team’s bye week.


Below is an archive of our live feed from today's game between the Falcons and the Bills. 

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