FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- There weren't many positives to take away from Sunday night, which ended with a 23-7 loss to the Patriots. After dropping three straight games, the Falcons must find a way to regroup before hitting the road again for a matchup with the New York Jets.
Today's Early Bird Report includes some reactions to Sunday night's loss as well as a look at what happened around the NFC South.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
NFL.com: Tom Brady, Patriots roll through fog past Falcons
Not much went the Falcons' way on Sunday night against the Patriots. Nick Shook made that much clear in his seven thoughts from the game for NFL.com.
His first three thoughts all center around the notion that the two teams didn't look anything like those that took the field in February. The Patriots' offense was efficient, while the Falcons struggled to put points on the board. In his fourth thought, Shook says that Quinn's decisions to go for it on a few fourth downs quickly went from looking aggressive to looking desperate. One of the final thoughts Shook had was that while many will say the victory signals New England's resurgence, his biggest takeaway concerns the Falcons' slow start this season.
*The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: *Falcons' report card
The Falcons didn't have many bright spots on Sunday night, a point that was made clear in D. Orlando Ledbetter’s report card for the AJC. It's not often that Ledbetter goes to extremes in his report card, but he did just that after Atlanta's third straight loss.
The pass offense, run defense, special teams and coaching all received an "F" from Ledbetter, and he had this to say about the run defense:
"The run defense was gashed again. Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead, who was sought by the Falcons in free agency, did most of the damage. The Patriots became the third straight team to rush for more than 100 yards against the Falcons. They ran for a season-high 162 yards. The Falcons gave up 138 yards last week against the Dolphins. The Bills rushed for 117 in the previous game."
Both the run offense and the pass defense were given a "D" from Ledbetter.
NEWS ON THE FALCONS' OPPONENT: New York Jets
ESPN.com: Jets lose their poise, lack killer instinct in epic meltdown vs. Dolphins
Written off before the season began, the Jets have been one of the more interesting stories to start the season. As ESPN’s Rich Cimini writes, that story took a downward turn on Sunday, as the Jets let their lead slip away in the fourth quarter of their 31-28 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Jets quarterback Josh McCown threw an interception on the final drive to seal their fate after holding a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter.
BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFC SOUTH
*The Charlotte-Observer: *Panthers report card: Bad, incomplete, good all represented vs. Bears
Carolina scored just three points in its 17-3 loss to the Chicago Bears, and its poor performance on offense was represented in Joseph Person’s report card for *The Charlotte-Observer**. *Every unit of the Panther's offense received a "D" for their performance, which gained just 293 yards and turned the ball over three times, two of which were returned for touchdowns by Bears safety Eddie Jackson. Carolina's defense received largely positive grades after holding Chicago to 153 yards on offense.
*The New Orleans Advocate: *New Orleans bounces back to beat Green Bay
After falling behind in the first half and entering halftime down 14-7, the Saints responded in the second half to beat the Packers, 26-17. Joel Erickson of *The New Orleans Advocate* provided a recap of the game, which highlighted New Orleans' resiliency – a theme that this team has represented so far this season. The Saints' defense made a statement in the second half, allowing just 65 yards to the Packers, while the offense gained 485 yards on Sunday afternoon.
ESPN.com: Buccaneers' season starts to slip away with third straight loss
Tampa Bay lost to the Buffalo Bills 30-27 on Sunday, its third straight loss of the season. According to ESPN’s Jenna Laine, it may be a sign that a promising year for the Buccaneers may be starting to slip away.
"I feel like we are the only ones that can get ourselves out because we can't keep [losing]," coach Dirk Koetter said, according to Laine. "It hurts. It hurts a lot, but no one is coming to save us. We dug in. We've got to dig out."
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