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Early Bird Report: What we learned from Falcons' Week 1 loss

The top Falcons headlines from around the country 

Atlanta's 2020 season did not begin the way many had hoped it would, but the coaches and players contest that one game does not make a season. There were some bright moments and some not-so-bright moments in the Falcons' 38-25 loss to the Seattle Seahawks and plenty of teaching points.

In his three-subject review of Sunday's game, writer Adam Maya chose to pick a rosier aspect of the Falcons' play to discuss. Although much of his production came when trailing, Matt Ryan had a noteworthy day, and it’s what Maya decided to note.

"Matt Ryan is still good," Maya writes. "The 35-year-old QB did his part to keep the Falcons competitive. He completed 14 straight passes at one point in the second half, eclipsing John Elway for ninth place in all-time [passing yards] in the process. Ryan connected with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage nine times apiece while going 37 of 54 for 450 yards and two touchdowns. His productivity just didn't translate into enough points, as Atlanta was inefficient on late downs and ultimately became one dimensional after a strong start from Todd Gurley."

The Falcons were forced to become a more one-dimensional offense after a two-point lead for Seattle quickly grew to a 16-point lead in the third quarter and then 19-point lead early in the fourth quarter. That led the Falcons to abandon the run game they so clearly wanted to establish in the first half and rely on Ryan and his plethora of weapons.

It ended up giving Ryan a great final stat line, but it's a stat line the former NFL MVP would trade in a second to be 1-0 through the first week of action.

Falcons' fourth-down follies too much to overcome

Seattle was able to grow its lead so quickly on Sunday thanks to a number of failed conversions on fourth down by the Falcons. Atlanta ended the day 0-for-4 on fourth down with the offense failing to convert three of those and safety Sharrod Neasman fumbling the ball after successfully running a fake punt in the third quarter. Those miscues blew open what had been a tight game in the first half, tilting things in the favor of Seattle. As ESPN's Vaughn McClure wrote after the game, they were too much to overcome for Atlanta.

"There were three fourth-down plays that proved to be particularly costly to the Falcons on a day where they needed those type of plays to swing in their favor," McClure writes. "The one that probably swung the momentum most came in the third quarter when the defense surrendered a 38-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to DK Metcalf on fourth-and-5. The Falcons trailed just 14-12 at the time, but the score against cornerback Isaiah Oliver was part of a run of 17 straight points for Seattle that all but put the game out of reach."

Week 1 NFL grades

In the view of CBSSports' John Breech, while Atlanta's overall box score stats might look nice, the inability to come through in the most pivotal moments is the true takeaway of the game for the Falcons. While Breech was effusive in his praise for the Seahawks, he was also sour on Atlanta's performance, giving the Falcons a “D” for their efforts on Sunday            .

"No team shoots themselves in the foot better than the Atlanta Falcons, and that's exactly what they did in this game," Breech writes. "Although the Falcons put up some impressive numbers on offense (506 total yards), they just couldn't come through on any clutch plays. Not only did they go 0 for 4 on fourth-down conversions, they also fumbled the ball away on a fake punt that they would have converted if the fumble didn't happen. Their defense also had no idea how to stop Russell Wilson."

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