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Tabeek: The ‘what if’ scenarios are piling up as the Falcons fall one play short again

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ATLANTA – There’s a theme developing here with these 2018 Falcons and it feels like a page ripped straight out of a “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” book.

In case you missed it, the Falcons lost yet another heartbreaker in the final seconds on Sunday, a one-point defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals despite scoring 36 points. The week before, Atlanta dropped 37 points on the Saints but ended up losing in overtime.

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That simply does not happen a lot in the National Football League. In fact, it almost never happens. How rare is it? Check out this stat that Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders dug up:

Since 1940, teams scoring 36-plus points at home with zero turnovers are 402-4.

Think about that for a minute. In the last 78 years only two teams have done that and lost. The Falcons have done it in two straight weeks. It’s crazy.

But here’s another one, courtesy of ESPN’s stat department:

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is the first player in NFL history to lose back-to-back games with 350 passing yards, three passing touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Yes, the offense is rolling. Ryan is playing out of his mind right now. Against the Bengals, Ryan completed 29 of 39 for 419 yards and three touchdowns. The week before, he was 26 of 35 for 374 yards and a career-high five touchdowns. Again, no picks in either game.

Teams usually win those games, especially when they’re converting 85 percent of their red-zone opportunities. Yes, that’s right – since Week 1 loss to Philadelphia, the Falcons are 11 of 13 in the red zone.

Remember when everyone – and I mean everyone – was clamoring about Steve Sarkisian’s play-calling and the Falcons’ ineptitude in the red zone?

Oh, but wait, there’s still more from the Are You Kidding Me files:

Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley is the first rookie in NFL history to catch six touchdowns in the team’s first four games. And that’s with Julio Jones, the current NFL leader in receiving yards, and Mohamed Sanu on the field with him.

I swear you can’t make this stuff up – and I’m not.

So, what do the Falcons have to do? For one, make one more play – and Atlanta has had plenty of opportunities to do just that.

Atlanta had at least a handful against the Bengals, the most glaring one was what would have been a game-sealing interception by Desmond Trufant with 1:26 left in regulation. Watch it below:

But, let’s be clear here, it’s not all on Trufant. The truth is that he made a nice play on a third-and-8 play and broke up a pass. On the flip side, however, the Bengals went on to score the winning touchdown eight plays later.

What if Ryan doesn’t overthrow Austin Hooper in the back of the end zone in the fourth quarter?

And what if Brandon Fusco doesn’t get called for a false start on the 8-yard line in the third quarter after the blocked punt? They ended up settling for three points instead of what looked like a sure seven.

And there were plenty of “what if” moments against the Saints and Eagles, too.

I won’t regurgitate the Eagles and Saints games here, but we all know what happened on the final drive in Philly and in overtime against New Orleans.

Am I giving the defense – a unit that’s surrendered 80 points total in the last two games – a pass here? No, not at all. But, like the offense, they’ve done just enough to put the Falcons in position to win games – despite being decimated by injuries.

It really comes down to making one more play – in all three aspects of the game (offense, defense and special teams). That’s the difference right now between 4-0 and 1-3 for the Falcons.

“We’re a good team and our record doesn’t show it,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said.

No, it doesn’t.

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