Remember earlier when I was guessing that there's probably a huge correlation between successful fourth-down conversions and wins? Well, New England had two successful fourth-down conversions on its last monster drive for a field goal, including one from their own 24-yard line, which expanded the Patriots' lead to nine points.
The fourth-down conversions are fueling a few other trends that are going against the Falcons. The biggest is time of possession. The Falcons, who always want to win time of possession, are trailing 29:03 to 15:57 at the end of three quarters. Ouch. New England also is leading in first downs (22 to 12), plays (61 to 35) and rushing yards (139 to 51).
I also mentioned that challenges were looking to be key. That might always be self-evident, but the Falcons lost a challenge on what they thought was a fumble by SammyMorris, leaving them with only one timeout. Had the Falcons won the challenge, they'd only be down six points.
Also, I would say that penalties are officially hurting the Falcons. They have five for 40 yards to New England's two for 10, but it's the timing of the penalties that has proved so costly in addition to the number. Probably the biggest of the game right now came when Michael Jenkins had a 36-yard touchdown called back for offensive pass interference. The replays showed that Jenkins got his right hand on the jersey of cornerback Leigh Bodden and that might have caused Bodden to fall.
On the next play, Sam Baker's false start penalty gives the Falcons second and 18. Jason Snelling caught a 13-yard pass on third down, so, effectively, Baker's penalty cost a first down inside New England's territory.
Still no catches for Tony Gonzalez through three quarters