ATLANTA – The Atlanta Falcons (1-3) are facing an uphill battle after back-to-back last-second losses, but the team can't afford to dwell on their close defeats. They must remain focused on the three-fourths of the schedule that lies ahead.
"There's 12 football games in front of us," Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said Sunday. "A lot of football to be played. A lot of things we've done in the first four weeks have been solid, but we have to be better for it. We have to be better moving forward."
It's hard to imagine the Falcons' offense playing much better than it has over the past two weeks. Atlanta gained 495 yards of offense in its 37-36 loss to the Bengals, and the Falcons have now scored at least 31 points in their last three games. During that stretch, the Falcons have converted 11 of their 13 red-zone possessions into touchdowns.
But as Ryan noted after the game, the offense has had opportunities in each of the last three games to put the game away and they haven't been able to do so.
"We did a lot of really good things throughout that game and to not come away with a win is tough," Ryan said. "But it comes back to the same story as last week. Had opportunities to close that out and chances to put that game [away] and the lead, create a better margin for it. And we didn't do that offensively, so it was disappointing."
The emergence of rookie receiver Calvin Ridley, who ended Sunday's game as the NFL's leader in touchdown reception with six, has given the Falcons one of the most formidable passing attacks in the league.
Ridley wasn't the only receiver making plays Sunday, however, as both Mohamed Sanu and Julio Jones gained over 100 receiving yards against the Bengals. Jones, who had 173 yards on nine catches, leads all NFL players with 502 receiving yards.
Given the injuries on the defensive side of the ball, the Falcons may find themselves in plenty of shootouts throughout the remainder of the season. Thus far, they've proven they're equipped to go toe-to-toe with opponents in those types of games.
But the fact remains that Atlanta has three losses to only one win after the first quarter of the season. Falcons coach Dan Quinn is determined to fix that moving forward.
"All three phases, we had opportunities to close it," Quinn said of the loss. "At the end of the day, we have to get these moments right, both New Orleans and Cincinnati … Through our first quarter of the season, our record doesn't show that we had that part down so we've got work to do. We're a good team and our record doesn't show it."