FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With fog blanketing Gillette Stadium on Sunday night, the Falcons (3-3) were shutout by the Patriots (5-2) for the first three-and-a-half quarters before ultimately losing 23-7 and dropping their third straight game. It was a tough night for Atlanta, which struggled to put points on the board and allowed long drives on defense.
Here are the key takeaways from the Falcons' loss:
Offense stifled once again
Atlanta's offense was able to move the against New England, but they were unable to put points on the board for most of the night. The Falcons' second possession spanned 52 yards in 12 plays but ended with a blocked field goal attempt. Their first possession in the second half covered 55 yards in 10 plays, but it, too, ended with a missed field goal as Matt Bryant's kick bounced off the left upright.
On their second possession of the second half, the Falcons had a 10-play, 70-yard drive and reached the 1-yard line but couldn't punch it in after an incomplete pass on third-and-1 and a sweep to Taylor Gabriel was sniffed out for a loss of yards.
The Falcons gained 343 yards on Sunday night – 120 yards on the ground and 223 yards through the air – and became the first team not to throw for over 300 yards against the Patriots' league-worst pass defense.
Falcons gamble backfires at end of the first half
Down 10-0 with two minutes remaining in the first half, the Falcons opted to go for it on fourth-and-six with the ball at the Patriots' 47-yard line. Atlanta converted its first fourth-down attempt earlier in the game, but Matt Ryan's pass to Mohamed Sanu was out of reach, resulting in a turnover on downs. Dan Quinn is not afraid to be aggressive, but the Falcons' gamble ended up costing them just before halftime.
New England took possession with 1:55 left on the clock and all three timeouts. The Patriots marched down the field and Tom Brady connected with running back James White for a 2-yard touchdown pass to extend their lead to 17-0 heading into halftime.
Patriots ran the ball well against Falcons
With a lead for most of the game, New England was able to effectively run the ball against Atlanta on Sunday night. The Patriots gained 162 yards on the ground against the Falcons, averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
Clayborn roughing the passer leads to Cooks' TD
It appeared as though the Falcons' defense had forced a big turnover when Robert Alford intercepted Brady in the end zone early in the second quarter, but the pick was negated by a late hit on the quarterback by Adrian Clayborn. While it's unclear whether the flag was thrown because the hit was late or Clayborn made contact in the head or neck area of Brady, the result was the same – and costly.
Instead of getting off the field, the Falcons gave the Patriots' offense a second life. New England responded by continuing its march to Atlanta's end zone and scored on an 11-yard jet sweep by Brandin Cooks. It's the second straight week in which the Falcons have had an interception negated by a roughing the passer call.
Third down a problem for the offense
While Atlanta was able to move the ball in spurts on Sunday night, it struggled on third downs. The Falcons were just 2-of-9 on third downs, a 22 percent success rate.
Julio over 8,000 career receiving yards
On a 14-yard reception in the second quarter, Julio Jones surpassed 8,000 career receiving yards. He became the second-fastest player to eclipse that mark, behind Hall-of-Famer Lance Alworth.
Jones finished Sunday night's game with nine catches on 13 targets for 99 yards and a touchdown.
Below is an archive of live updates and commentary from Sunday night's game.