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Early Bird Report 10/16: Grades from Falcons' loss to Dolphins; Saints make big statement

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Back from their bye week, the Falcons built a comfortable lead against the Miami Dolphins in the first half on Sunday but had several self-inflicted wounds compound things before eventually falling 20-17. With another tough matchup against an AFC East foe on the horizon, the team will be back hard at work to get things corrected.

Today's Early Bird Report includes several thoughts on Atlanta's performance on Sunday as well as some notable outcomes within the division.


FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY Dolphins' defense shines in comeback win over Falcons

Miami's defense played in big role in helping the Dolphins come from behind on Sunday, shutting down the Falcons' offense in the second half.'s Marc Sessler recapped how the comeback happened and provided five thoughts on Miami’s upset victory.

Sessler notes that Atlanta was held scoreless on its final five possessions after jumping out to a quick start, which says at much about the Falcons' offense as it does the Dolphins' defense. Although Miami's offense never looked threatening, it received some help in the third quarter by several Atlanta miscues on defense. Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi rounded back into form on Sunday, gaining 130 yards on 26 carries.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Report card from Falcons' loss

As he does after every game, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC shared his grades for the team’s performance. The grades were along the lines of what could be expected from a game like Sunday's.

The lowest grade was given to the Falcons' run defense, which received a "D-minus" after allowing 139 yards on the ground. Ledbetter gave the coaching a "D," citing the undisciplined emotion Atlanta displayed at times throughout the game. The Falcons' run and pass offense received a "C" as did the pass defense and the special teams.


Sports Illustrated: Bouyed by controversial call, Patriots hold off Jets for 24-17 victory

New England was locked in a tightly fought game with the New York Jets on Sunday, but emerged victorious after a controversial call. Michael Beller of *Sports Illustrated *covered that call in his three thoughts on the game.

The major turning point of the game came when Jets tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins appeared to score his second touchdown of the game. Instead of giving New York a four-point lead, however, it was ruled that Seferian-Jenkins lost control of the ball just before crossing the goal line, which then hit the pylon turning possession over the New England on a touchback. The Patriots' defense also continued to struggle, allowing Josh McCown to throw for 354 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

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*The Times-Picayune: *Hey, NFL! Don't sleep on the Saints

While the rest of the NFC South struggled in Week 6, the New Orleans Saints rolled. They dominated the Detroit Lions on Sunday, winning 52-38, and recorded their third straight blowout victory. *The Times-Picayune's *Jeff Duncan believes that the Saints are undoubtedly the hottest team in the NFL right now, even if they aren't the most talented team.

"In a league where one-score games are increasingly the norm, the Saints are trucking people," Duncan wrote. "They aren't just winning. They are pole-axing people." Jameis Winston's shoulder injury makes Bucs' loss even more concerning

Tampa Bay fell behind early against the Arizona Cardinals, eventually losing 38-33 on Sunday afternoon. To make matters worse, starting quarterback Jameis Winston injured his shoulder on the Bucs' first offensive possession and eventually had to sit out the remainder of the game. ESPN's Jenna Laine notes that while backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick proved capable, Tampa Bay is in trouble if Winston is out of action for long.  


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