Aqib Talib batted the ball away from Roddy White to squash any chances of a comeback. (Kevin C. Cox)
Matt Ryan threw for a career-best 421 yards, Tony Gonzalez set a new career record with 149 yards, and yet it still wasn’t enough.
The Atlanta Falcons fell to the New England Patriots 30-23, and for the first time since 2007, are two games below .500 with a 1-3 record.
It was the first time the Falcons had lost back-to-back games since Weeks 13 and 14 of the 2009 season. Atlanta’s record in games following a loss falls to 21-4, and Ryan’s record in the Georgia Dome drops to 34-6.
The Falcons tried to mount a comeback after being down 30-13 in the fourth quarter, but were unsuccessful in the fourth-and-game situation they have found themselves in three of the past five games dating back to the NFC Championship game.
Ryan lobbed up a pass for Roddy White in the end zone, but it was knock away by Aqib Talib. With only 36 seconds remaining, the Patriots came out in victory formation to end the game.
For the first time since 2007, New England sports a 4-0 record.
The Falcons were the Patriots’ first legitimate challenge, and they passed the test. In their first three games, New England faced the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by rookies E.J. Manuel, Geno Smith, and now-benched Josh Freeman, respectively.
Even with top targets Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski out, Tom Brady managed to find a rapport that was a lacking in the first three games with his receivers.
Rookie Kenbrell Thompkins led the way with six catches for 127 yards and an 18-yard touchdown that put the Patriots up 27-13. Julian Edelman hauled in seven balls for 118 yards.
Once again, Atlanta was woeful in the red zone. The Falcons made six trips and only capitalized on one visit: an 11-yard touchdown to Gonzalez.
Brady wasn’t sacked once by the Falcons, nor did he throw an interception. Unlike Ryan, Brady operated from a clean pocket for the majority of the game.
Left tackle Sam Baker started the game, but was unable to finish. Lamar Holmes, who apparently lost his starting right tackle spot to Jeremy Trueblood, filled the open spot at left tackle.
Ryan threw for the aforementioned 421 yards on 34 of 54 passing. He tossed two touchdowns – both to Gonzalez – and one interception.
Julio Jones topped 100 yards for the third straight game, catching six passes for 108 yards including a big 49-yard bomb that put the Falcons in position to tie the game.
Next week, the Falcons host the Jets in another primetime game. A win puts them at 2-3 heading into the bye week, which also gives them a chance to get healthy.
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