The Falcons are heading back home from Arizona a 1-5 football team Sunday night after falling 34-33 to the Cardinals.
Every loss is tough, but this one was particularly gut-wrenching as kicker Matt Bryant missed a potential game-tying kick with 1:53 remaining. Bryant, who had previously made a ridiculous 382 of 385 (99.2 percent) of his extra-point attempts, understandably took the miss hard, too.
“To miss that kick is no good for anybody,” Bryant said. “We’ve kind of dug ourselves a hole, and you don’t want to end it like that.”
To be clear, this loss isn’t Bryant’s fault. There were a lot of reasons why the Falcons ultimately dropped their fourth straight game.
But the veteran kicker did make a critical point: this team did dig themselves out of hole a number of times against the Cardinals. They not only showed resiliency down the stretch when a lot of teams might’ve thrown in the towel, but they definitely sounded like a team that wasn’t about to concede anything following the game despite sitting in last place of the NFC South with 10 games to go.
And that fight, which was on full display during the second half as the Falcons outscored the Cardinals 23-14, might be the best thing this team has going right now.
“There’s still a lot of football in front of us,” said Matt Ryan, who completed 30 of 36 passes for 356 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. “Clearly this is not where we want to be at this point. I’ve been on teams that have gone on long win streaks. It just takes a play here in the game or a win here to get a bit of momentum going, and when it’s going good you got to ride it.”
The Falcons were certainly making plays and had plenty of momentum going in the second half. While the ride Sunday was cut short, this team was clicking on both sides of the ball down the stretch.
And they didn’t quit.
Not when the relinquished an early lead. Not when they trailed by 17 points and not when they fell behind with 5:18 left to go in the fourth.
And that’s a good sign for Dan Quinn and their chances next Sunday at home against the Los Angeles Rams, a team that’s now lost three straight after beginning the year 3-0.
Ryan said the Falcons can’t worry about anybody other than the Rams next week.
The only way the Falcons can dig themselves out of this 1-5 hole is to start stacking wins together, one at a time.
While the offense has scored 65 points and rolled up 817 yards of total offense in the last two games, the defense is still giving up way too many points, yards and has now gone three straight games without sacking the opposing quarterback.
The fight is there, but the defense must improve.
“We’ve got to find a way to get the job done,” Ryan said of the Falcons’ next game.
“It doesn’t matter who we’re going against in this league, it’s going to be a tough game. They’re a good football team. But we’re capable of playing good football too. We’ve just got to find a way to do that more consistently.”
The Falcons certainly showed they’re capable, but the consistency isn't there. They had better find some if they hope to save their season.
Get an inside look at Atlanta Falcons vs. Arizona Cardinals with top photos from the field at State Farm Stadium