When Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley sat down at the podium following the heartbreaking 40-39 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at AT&T Stadium, when asked how to describe the mood in the locker room, he used one word.
"Quiet," Ridley said.
Ridley, like most who watched the game, said the team was shocked the game played out how it did. The Falcons were up 29-10 at the half and continued to play at a high level offensively into the third and early fourth quarter. Atlanta extended its lead to 15 points at one point in the fourth quarter before losing in the final seconds. The Cowboys scored 16 unanswered points to win the game in the final eight minutes.
After a dominant performance offensively and zero turnovers, Ridley wasn't shy about saying his team should have improved to 1-1 on the year. According to Elias Sports Bureau since 1993, teams were 440-0 when scoring 39 points without a turnover heading into this week's slate of games.
"We all are just really shocked," Ridley said. "That one is a tough one. We should have won the game. We have to finish the games. We have to close the games out. That's our win right there, without a doubt. We have to close out that game."
Julio Jones, Russell Gage, Hayden Hurst and Ridley all made critical plays to get the Falcons in a position to win. Ridley caught two touchdowns for a second consecutive week with Hurst and Gage also adding a score. Jones was dealing with a hamstring injury throughout the game but made a key reception on fourth down to keep Atlanta's drive alive in the third quarter. Matt Ryan completed 24 of 36 passes for 273 yards and four touchdowns in the loss.
After dropping their season-opener to the Seattle Seahawks, the Falcons believed they would respond in a positive way in Week 2. For the most part, the team did until the final minutes of the game. After back-to-back seasons finishing 7-9, Jones knows how important these finishing close games are as the season goes on.
With an 0-2 start, the Falcons will certainly be looking to be a better finishing team moving forward. And Jones has full confidence his team can do just that.
"We definitely are a better finishing team than we showed today," Jones said. "It sucks when you lose the way we lost today. At the end of the day, we're not going to let it define who we are. We don't need any motivation in our locker room, we know what we have to do. We have grown men in our locker room. Everyone takes ownership. It's not like we point fingers, we're sticking together."
Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks with top photos from inside AT&T Stadium in Week 2.