HEADLINE

Falcons lament penalties in latest loss

The Sports Xchange

December 10, 2018 at 9:03 pm.

After another disappointing showing pushed, their losing streak to five games, Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn didn’t quibble about the team’s grit and toughness. It was silly mistakes that drew most of his attention.

“I told the team earlier I thought our toughness was right, but our focus is not,” Quinn said. “The self-inflicted wounds, the penalties, the turnovers.”

Atlanta (4-9) committed two turnovers in Sunday’s 34-20 loss to Green Bay — one fumble and one interception. Equally disturbing was the 13 penalties that added up to 101 yards.

“The heart and hustle is there, but the self-inflicted wounds, too many, too often for us to play like we’re capable of playing,” Quinn said. “And that’s not where we’ve been, but it is where we currently are due to these mistakes, and they have to be corrected and they will be.”

Quarterback Matt Ryan stepped up and took responsibility for both turnovers.

The fumble occurred on a snap that appeared to arrive too soon from center Alex Mack. The ball bounced off the leg of receiver Mohamed Sanu, who was in motion. It occurred at the 8 and prevented the Falcons from possibly scoring a touchdown.

“That’s on me,” Ryan said. “The whole operation starts and ends with me. I’ve got to do a better job with that and make sure things like that don’t come up.”

The interception turned out to be a pick six. Bashaud Breeland intercepted Ryan and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, part of Green Bay’s 20-0 run that gave the Packers a 20-7 halftime lead.
“It wasn’t a good enough throw,” Ryan said. “Higher, firmer, further outside. That happens from time to time. Again, it was tough timing for it to happen in the game. Certainly cut the momentum that we had at that point.”

Ryan otherwise returned to form. He completed 28 of 42 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns, two to Julio Jones and one to Justin Hardy.

Part of the penalties resulted from a scrum that broke out near midfield just before the half. Linebacker Deion Jones and Green Bay center Corey Linsley were both flagged for offsetting personal fouls.

In addressing the penalties, safety Sherrod Neasman said, “We just need to execute and made better decisions in those moments. I think we definitely came out with a chip on our shoulder, but we made some poor decision. We just have to make better decisions and keep our poise in those situations.”

The Falcons play their final home game of the season on Sunday against Arizona.

PLAYER NOTES

–TE Austin Hooper injured his right knee against the Packers and did not return. Coach Dan Quinn said the injury was not “long-term.” Hooper has caught 64 passes for 557 yards and four touchdowns and has become one of QB Matt Ryan’s favorite targets.

–LB Deion Jones (foot) was limited in practice all week but played and tied for the team lead with six tackles and defended two passes.

–PK Matt Bryant was listed as questionable because of the same problematic right groin injury. The team kept backup Giorgio Tavecchio on the roster, but Bryant was well enough to play. Quinn said Monday that Bryant should be fine for this week’s game against Arizona.

–DE Bruce Irvin got his first sack since joining the Falcons five games ago. The veteran pass rusher, signed after he was released by the Raiders, has four total sacks this season in 13 games.

–LB Foye Oluokun (knee) was limited in practice all week. He played but was not as effective and made two tackles.

–TE Logan Paulsen (knee/ankle) missed the game after not participating in practice all week.