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Tabeek: Once a strength, Falcons offense isn't getting it done

The Falcons' once-formidable offense used to scare opponents on a weekly basis


As bad as the Falcons offense played against the Los Angeles Chargers, Blidi Wreh-Wilson gifted his teammates with the perfect "Get Out of Jail Free" card on Sunday.

Wreh-Wilson picked off a Justin Herbert pass with 53 seconds left in the game. Tied at 17-all, all the Falcons had to do was get in field goal range for their sharp-shooting kicker Younghoe Koo and escape from L.A. with a win.

These are the moments – with the game on the line, 25 yards from a game-winning field goal – that not only define players, but teams and coaches. With Matt Ryan, Todd Gurley, Calvin Ridley and Hayden Hurst on the field in crunch time, the Falcons expect to get those yards.

The 26-year-old Koo has been automatic from beyond 50 yards this season (8-for-8), and to match his career-best from 54 yards out, Atlanta needed to at least reach the Chargers 37.

And yet, the Falcons offense couldn't seal the deal.

Three plays later, Ryan tried to hit Ridley on an out route and Chargers cornerback Michael Davis stepped in front of the pass. The pick was Ryan's third of the game.

Chargers kicker Michael Badgley booted a 43-yarder as time expired to win it for Los Angeles, 20-17.

It was a forgettable performance for Ryan, who finished the game completing 21 of 32 passes for 224 yards, one touchdown and the three interceptions. He was also sacked twice.

The last time Ryan tossed three in a game was against the Eagles back on Sept. 15, 2019. But he also threw three touchdown passes that night as the Falcons edged Philly, 24-20, in a thriller.

The loss to the 4-9 Chargers not only eliminated the Falcons from postseason contention, which felt like a formality at this point, it also shined a light on how much the once-formidable Falcons offense has slipped.

For the third straight season, the Falcons are struggling to consistently run the ball efficiently. Falcons runners combined to rush for 70 yards against the Chargers. Atlanta is now 0-6 this season when they don't rush for at least 90 yards.

They're not finishing drives. When you have players likes Julio Jones, Ridley, Gurley, Gage, and Hurst, you're supposed to be able to score touchdowns, especially in the red zone. On Sunday, the Falcons were 1-of-3 in the red zone but entered the weekend 29th in the league in scoring touchdowns in the red zone.

As good as Koo has kicked this season, the Falcons would prefer to see less of him. As interim head coach Raheem Morris put it, "Koo has been money, but I'd like to see less of him. We'd like to score touchdowns."

After the game, Ryan said, "today wasn't good enough on my part."

Forget good enough, the Falcons offense used to scare opponents week in and week out. On Sunday it was scary again, but for all the wrong reasons.

Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Chargers with top photos from Week 14.

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