Found September 22, 2013 on Fox Sports South:
A season that began with a "Super Bowl or Bust" mantra for the Atlanta Falcons is ominously starting to look like the latter.In a game in which they absolutely dominated in the first half, the Falcons turned the ball over twice late and coughed one up, 27-23, on the road at Miami, to fall to 1-2.It doesn't get any easier for banged-up Atlanta, as 3-0 New England visits the Georgia Dome next Sunday night in a nationally televised game -- a game that is starting to take on the appearance of a dreaded must-win situation.Despite a defensive effort that totaled two takeaways (one fumble recovery, one interception) and a season-high five sacks, the Falcons allowed Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill to drive his unit 75 yards on 13 plays in 4:13 for the game-winning score with 43 seconds left. The Dolphins converted three third downs on the drive and finished it off with a one-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill to tight end Dion Sims.Injuries proved a major theme for the Falcons during the week. Starting running back Steven Jackson was ruled out for the game with a hamstring injury and likely will miss the match-up with New England on Sunday, as well. Other starters out on Sunday included defensive end Kroy Biermann (his season is over with a torn Achilles' tendon), fullback Bradie Ewing (his season also is over with a separated shoulder), top linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (he'll miss eight weeks with a foot injury) and the highest-paid offensive lineman Sam Baker, who has knee and foot injuries.However, in the end, the Falcons cannot blame injuries for this loss. The offensive line in particular had come under extensive criticism entering the game, as it had allowed five sacks and 14 quarterback hits on Matt Ryan in the first two games and did not produce a 100-yard rushing game.Yet with Lamar Holmes making the first start of his career at left tackle (in only his third career start) in place of Baker and veteran Jeremy Trueblood starting at right tackle -- his first in an Atlanta uniform -- the Falcons not only prevented the Dolphins from registering a single sack but the line blocked well enough for the Falcons to total 146 rushing yards on 30 carries -- seemingly enough to win.Atlanta scored on all three first-half drives, running 36 plays to Miami's 16 and controlling the clock in time of possession, 22:48 to 7:12. The issue was that they could not capitalize on that enormous advantage to build anything larger than a 13-10 halftime lead.Much of that had to do with head coach Mike Smith's decision to have field goal kicker Matt Bryant make a 20-yard field goal with 2:04 left in the second quarter rather than try to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Dolphins' 2. Bryant's kick put the Falcons ahead 13-7 but Miami drove 60 yards on eight plays and kicked a field goal as time expired for the half, pulling themselves within 13-10 at the break, as the Falcons continued a season-long tendency to allow quick scoring drives by the opposition.The game truly began to unravel for the Falcons when -- up in the turnover margin 2-0 -- veteran wide receiver Harry Douglas fumbled on a punt return and Miami recovered at Atlanta's 19 with 1:45 left in the third quarter. The Dolphins cut a 10-point deficit to three when the Falcons blew a coverage and Brian Hartline caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill with 56 seconds left in the third quarter.Late in the game, leading 23-20, the Falcons had a chance to salt away the game but frittered away another opportunity. They earned a first down at Miami's 23 and got inside the red zone but failed to convert on third-and-4, choosing a 36-yard field try by the reliable Bryant. His first miss of the season on five tries came at the wrong time with 4:46 left in regulation, but ultimately the Falcons lost for other reasons.On two critical trips inside the red zone -- at the Miami 2 in the second quarter and at the Miami 17 in the fourth -- the Falcons' offense stalled at the wrong time and produced a total of only three points combined on those two possessions. Elite teams don't miss out on opportunities like that.The last turnover, evening the margin for the game, came on safety Jimmy Wilson's interception of Ryan at the Falcons' 39 with 26 seconds left, ending any possible hope of a comeback.It remains early and the Falcons have plenty of time left to return to the postseason for the fifth time in six seasons under Smith and even to best last season's berth in the NFC Championship Game.But the way things are going, it's starting to look like an uphill climb.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

NFL Week 3 Previews, Winners and Losers

At this period of the season in Week 3, the debates of  which teams are the best and worst among the undefeated and winless begins. The Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) can make a strong case that they are solid among the undefeated squads as they handled the hyper-speed Philadelphia Eagles’ (1-2) offense, convincingly, Thursday evening in their 26-16 victory. “It’s a good win, I...

Patriots Have Top 10 Passing Defense, But First Real Test Comes Against Matt Ryan, Falcons

The Patriots have a Top 10 defense. Let’s all just let that sink in for a few seconds. OK. Not only do the Patriots have a Top 10 defense, they have a Top 10 passing defense. They’re allowing just 188.3 yards per game. Opposing offenses have thrown for just two touchdowns (second in the NFL) to four interceptions (seventh). They have allowed a first down percentage of just 27...

Dolphins lean heavily on Ryan Tannehill to take down Falcons

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Ryan Tannehill no doubt got a good view of the impressive crowd of 70,660 that filled Sun Life Stadium on Sunday. He was on his back much of the afternoon looking up. The Miami Dolphins quarterback was sacked five times. But when it really counted he was able to remain upright. Tannehill directed a long drive and threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end...

Ryan Tannehill leads Dolphins to 3-0 with win over Falcons

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) -- The stadium shook with a roar as Ryan Tannehill skipped across the field pumping his arms with glee, the Miami Dolphins' comeback complete. Tannehill lobbed a 1-yard touchdown pass to rookie Dion Sims with 38 seconds left Sunday, and the unbeaten Dolphins rallied past the Atlanta Falcons 27-23. The score capped a 13-play, 75-yard drive after Atlanta...

Dolphins’ late drive topples Falcons 27-23

Ryan Tannehill welcome to the big time. Tannehill directed a 13-play 75-yard game-winning touchdown drive capped by a 1-yard touchdown pass to Dion Sims. The legacy-writing drive took just 4:08 off the clock and finished off a 24-of-35 day throwing for 236 yards two touchdowns and an interception. Jimmy Wilson sealed the game with a late interception off Matt Ryan. The Dolphins...

Take Two: Ryan Tannehill vs Andy Dalton

Week 2 is under wraps, and it looks like yet again @AnthonyOlivetti is the winner. Jay Cutler had a great game vs the Vikings, throwing for 296 yards and three touchdowns (along with three turnovers), while Carson Palmer has a rather pedestrian statline of 248/1/1. Cutler was able to build off of a fast start and cap off a comeback with with his third TD pass. Palmer threw his obligatory...

Falcons seeing red after loss to Dolphins

The Falcons can point to at least one area to explain their lost to Miami: The red zone. Atlanta fell to 1-2 after scoring two touchdowns and two field goals on five drives to the Miami 20-yard line or deeper. The Dolphins went 3-for-3 - all touchdowns - in their 27-23 victory The Falcons could argue they outplayed Miami, outgaining the Dolphins 377 yards to 285 on Sunday, and...

Tannehill leads Dolphins past Falcons 27-23

The stadium shook with a roar as Ryan Tannehill skipped across the field pumping his arms with glee, the Miami Dolphins' comeback complete. Tannehill lobbed a 1-yard touchdown pass to rookie Dion Sims with 38 seconds left Sunday, and the unbeaten Dolphins rallied past the Atlanta Falcons 27-23. The score capped a 13-play, 75-yard drive after Atlanta's Matt Bryant missed...

Tannehill leads Dolphins past Falcons

The stadium shook with a roar as Ryan Tannehill skipped across the field pumping his arms with glee, the Miami Dolphins' comeback complete. Tannehill lobbed a 1-yard touchdown pass to rookie Dion Sims with 38 seconds left Sunday, and the unbeaten Dolphins rallied past the Atlanta Falcons 27-23. The score capped a 13-play, 75-yard drive after Atlanta's Matt Bryant missed...

Atlanta Falcons: Falcons Drop Heart Breaker To Miami

The Falcons dominated nearly every facet of the game, except the scoreboard. If you were to watch the Falcons-Dolphins game without seeing the score, you would have thought that Atlanta won by double digits. They dominated everything. They ran the ball for 146 yards on 30 attempts (4.9 yards per carry). They sacked Ryan Tannehill 5 times while giving up no sacks of Matt Ryan. They...

5 things to know from Dolphins win over Falcons

Jubilant to be 3-0 for the first time in 11 years, the Miami Dolphins doused coach Joe Philbin in the locker room with a bucket of icy sports drink. The players believe they're practicing for celebrations to come. Surprising Miami rallied Sunday with a 75-yard touchdown drive in the final 5 minutes, scoring with 38 seconds to go to beat the Atlanta Falcons 27-23. The three...

Falcons-Patriots: Week 4 game preview

3 down, 13 more to go! Right? Anyways, Patriot Nation is gearing up for a big Sunday night game against the Falcons and while I'm pumped and excited, my week has been hampered with two tests along with work Sunday before the game. Nevertheless though, I'll be in front of my TV cheering on the Pats on NBC. Let's start this game preview with three things you NEED to know...

Dolphins Try for First 3-0 Start Since 2002

It hasn't been since 2002 since the Dolphins have opened the season 3-0.  With wins over the Browns in week 1 and the Colts in week 2, the Dolphins will attempt a 3-0 start this weekend against the Falcons.  If they succeed, it will be the first time they go 3-0 since 2002. The Dolphins come off a 24-20 win from the Indianapolis Colts. Injury Report as of FridayFrom NFL.com...

Dolphins Beat the Falcons: 5 Things We Learned From the Game

The ending was indicative of how exciting the game really was.Ryan Tannehill tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to rookie Dion Sims with 38 seconds left Sunday, and the unbeaten Dolphins rallied past the Atlanta Falcons 27-23. The win gave Miami a 3-0 start on the season and proved they are real contenders in the AFC East.Atlanta lost despite advantages of 24-16 in first downs, 377-285...
NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.