FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes takeaways and reactions to the Falcons' loss to the Cowboys.
Another close loss at home leaves the Falcons far on the outside of playoff contention. Atlanta expected a tough fight from Dallas, and that's exactly what it got.
With a quick turnaround before facing one of the NFL's dominant teams on Thursday night, the Falcons are intent on turning the page. We're going to reflect a while longer on Sunday's game, however, starting with some takeaways from NFL.com's Nick Shook.
"This loss, Atlanta's second straight, all but buries a Falcons team that was surging before being stunned by the Browns last week. At 4-6 with six to go, the Falcons would have to win out to have a shot at a Wild Card berth, with the competitive NFC South essentially out of reach. Two of those final six are against the teams ahead of them in the South (New Orleans and Carolina). When we reach clarity in the aftermath, we'll point to a 1-4 start and Weeks 10-11 as why things unfolded the way they did. But there are reasons to be hopeful: Calvin Ridley is a very promising target alongside Jones. And an offseason will allow key defenders to get healthy. It just looks now as though the fork is coming very close to being stuck into the Falcons after this one."
There's no doubt that injuries sapped away a lot of the promise for the season. But the Falcons are building quality depth for the future and will be better for it once back at full strength.
To read the rest of Shook's takeaways from the game, click here.
ESPN: Close not good enough as Falcons' season fades
The Falcons take things week to week and day by day in their preparation, but the bigger picture is becoming clearer. ESPN's Vaughn McClure writes that Atlanta season continues to fade away, and any potential path to the postseason is growing smaller each week.
"Ain't nothing to say; it ain't nothing to say but to go back to work," Grady Jarrett said after the game, per McClure. "Sometimes, we talk too much. ... It ain't no excuse for nothing. That's how I live life. Ain't no excuse. You've got to go to work.
"You're going to get whipped sometimes. You're going to lose sometimes. ... Everybody's checking their own self. One thing, I don't speak for nobody else. I represent the name on my jersey, and I represent this organization with everything I've got. I love the fact that we get the opportunity to go back to work."
To read the rest of McClure's piece, click here.
AJC: The fading Falcons fall to 4-6
McClure wasn't the only writer to touch upon the sense that things might be slipping away this season. Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution focused his post-game column around that theme, and he believes it's time to admit the unlikely isn't going to happen.
"This 22-19 loss – the third home loss this fall in which the winning points came inside the final seven seconds – dropped the Falcons to 4-6," Bradley writes. "They'd have to win out to have any playoff chance, and they still must travel to New Orleans, Green Bay and Charlotte. Football Outsiders assessed their postseason possibilities at 11.5 percent before Sunday's kickoff, and you can slice that in half now. This isn't happening. After that 1-4 start and all those defensive injuries, it was never happening."
To read the rest of Bradley's column, click here.