A week ago the Atlanta Falcons fell to the New Orleans Saints by a very small score difference. No longer undefeated, how would the Falcons perform against the Arizona Cardinals? Televised on Fox, the Falcons began on offense but after just one pass by quarterback Matt Ryan, possession went to the Cardinals thanks to Falcons wide receiver Roddy White losing the ball. Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson plucked it from the air. Moments later, the Cardinals took the lead with a touchdown by running back LaRod Stephens-Howling. A forty-eight yard Cardinals field goal courtesy of kicker Jay Feely couldn’t have been encouraging for anyone on Team Falcons. Arizona 10 and Atlanta 0. Just when the Falcons were finally improving their offensive momentum, Cardinals cornerback William Gay intercepted Matt Ryan. With less than three minutes in the first quarter, Matt Ryan was intercepted again (Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes got his hands on the ball).
Was Matt Ryan getting all of his mistakes out of his system in the first quarter? The Cardinals put another FG on the board as a result of this turnover. Arizona 13 and Atlanta 0.
The Falcons started playing catchup with a fifty-one yard Matt Bryant field goal in the second quarter. Cardinals put in rookie QB Ryan Lindley four minutes into the quarter, probably to give Cardinals starting QB John Skelton a rest. The Falcons defense proved its mettle when defensive end John Abraham and defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux contributed to a recovered fumble for a TD. Arizona 13 and Atlanta 10. The Falcons tied the game by the close of the first half. Jay Feely came on the field for a thirty-eight FG attempt with thirty-seven seconds left in the quarter. Atlanta responded with a forty-eight yard FG attempt. Arizona 16 and Atlanta 16.
The third quarter did not progress well for the Falcons as they turned the ball over again. Coach Mike Smith also made a faux pas with throwing down the challenge flag when he was not in the position to do so without incurring frowns from the officials. Matt Ryan was intercepted YET AGAIN in the bottom of the third quarter. Clearly his first quarter mistakes had carried over into the second half of the game. Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington caught the pass meant for Roddy White.
The fourth quarter began with a Feely FG, which broke the tie that had persisted since the end of the second quarter. Arizona 19 and Atlanta 16. Was the plan to keep the score difference as small as possible until the two-minute warning, get into the end zone, and then keep the Cardinals from scoring? Possibly. After an agonizing third quarter, the Falcons showed their fans some love with a TD by running back Michael Turner. Atlanta 23 and Arizona 19. Just as things were looking better for the home team, Matt Ryan was intercepted AGAIN. NANDESUKA?!
The Falcons returned to offense with three minutes left to play. The Cardinals didn’t have any more time outs. Atlanta 24 and Arizona 19. Final score.
Observations & Miscellania:
1. Kenny Albert and Daryl Johnston provided narration.
2. The Falcons wore red jerseys and white bottoms; the Cardinals wore white jerseys (with red sleeps) and white bottoms. When the players from both teams were piled up, they looked like a clob of peppermint candies.
3. Did someone not complete their pre-game good luck ritual? The first three quarters of today’s game was reminiscent of the Falcons from two seasons ago.
4. The Falcons played a very passive-aggressive game today. Despite the many turnovers that favored the Cardinals, they didn’t reap the expected benefits. Not every interception resulted in a score. Should we call this effort the Bait-and-Switch?
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