For those who don't have much time, here are five things you need to know about what happened in Friday night's 28-10 Falcons loss to the Patriots to sound like an expert at work Friday:
Kroy Biermann had a monster of a game. That makes two in a row for him. He really caused a lot of issues for the New England offensive line Thursday night. Biermann had three total tackles — two for loss — one sack, one hurry and one forced fumble. Biermann is currently sitting at third on the depth chart behind Jamaal Anderson and Chauncey Davis, but when asked in his postgame news conference, head coach Mike Smith emphatically said Biermann has a very, very good chance of earning a starting position by Week 1.
The Falcons' run defense was challenged early and often by New England's offensive line and running backs. The Pats rushed for 120 team yards with Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris combining for 106. The Patriots, however, have such a versatile, prolific offense that there are a number of areas for defenses to key on. With so much to pay attention to, it only makes sense for one area to struggle a bit. John Abraham, Biermann and Lawrence Sidbury, however, had some very good run stops in the game, which should prove encouraging.
Matt Ryan focused on his tight ends, who provide some very big targets for the third-year quarterback. Justin Peelle led all Falcons receivers with four receptions for 30 yards. Tony Gonzalez chipped in with 18 yards and Michael Palmer added two catches. The Falcons ran several three tight end sets during the game, which really put an emphasis on Atlanta's potential to dink and dunk down the field.
Smith was adamant after the game about making sure that the Falcons go to work to correct the mistakes that were made in Thursday night's game. One of the biggest ones he talked about was the inability of the Falcons' defense to get off the field on third downs. The Patriots converted 11-of-17 third downs (65 percent) against the Falcons. "It was our Achilles heel in the previous season, and it's something that we have got to get fixed," Smith said.
The Falcons' kicking game again had problems finding consistency in the preseason. Matt Bryant made his first attempt of 46 yards, and then missed on his next attempt of 47, which went wide right. At one point, the Falcons were facing a fourth-and-long with the opportunity to kick a 54-yard field goal. After getting the kicking unit on the field, the Falcons called a timeout, and Smith changed his mind. "I thought better of it and felt like it was the more prudent thing to work on our fourth down-and-13 play. You just never know if it's going to come up during the season," Smith said.