“Same as it ever was.”
That line from the Talking Heads classic “Once in a Lifetime” describes the Falcons just ended season. Like past seasons before, it ended with more losses than wins, more derision over their performance over the past season, and more questions over the future of the team heading into the off-season.
The Falcons’ dubious season ends with a crushing 48-17 loss to hated rivals New Orleans Saints. It’s the worst loss of the season and the most points scored against the Dirty Birds since the Houston Texans smacked them 53-32 on October 6, 2019.
Once again, the Falcons could not beat their opponents for beating themselves. Two turnovers, one of which came from repeat offender Desmond Ridder, who was called up to throw in this game when Taylor Heinicke was unable to play due to an ankle injury. The Falcons were completely blanked in the last half of the game while the Saints scored 31 unanswered points, including the final touchdown of the day, one that was supposed to be a victory formation in the final two minutes of the game when it was painfully obvious that the Falcons were going to drop another winnable game.
But the Saints used that as an opportunity to sneak a trick play touchdown that tacked on another 7 points. Those in the Big Easy may have found that move amusing, but those backing the red and black weren’t laughing.
Especially not coach Arthur Smith, who had words with Saints coach Dennis Allen after the game. (For the record, Allen did apologize to the Falcons for that play. Falcons’ Calais Campbell said after the game that Saints backup QB Jameis Winston changed the play call that led the victory formation TD.)
That aside, the Falcons’ mistakes (turnovers, inability to stop the run, racking up penalties, not rushing Saints QBs Dereck Carr or Winston) dug a ditch simply too deep for the Falcons to overcome. As classless as it was, it was too easy for the Saints to shovel the dirt on them for good measure.
So now, the Falcons are the not-so-proud owners of a 7-10 record for the THIRD season in a row. Actually, the Falcons hadn’t had a winning season since 2017. This year, they lost a game that could have potentially given them the top position in the NFC South and a ticket to the playoffs, if everything fell in place. Things of course didn’t, with the Panthers losing to the Buccaneers and the latter claiming the top spot. The Falcons crashing and burning in New Orleans today then confirmed their placement at #3 in the sorry NFC South.
And now the Dirty Birds face off-season questions starting tomorrow. How many of the 21 free agents on this year’s Falcons squad be back next year? Will coach Arthur Smith be back next year? What will the team do with their new #8 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft? (They used their #8 pick last year to get Bijan Robinson, who gave Falcons fans a respite from mediocrity with a 71-yard rushing touchdown in the 3rd quarter.) Will the Falcons get serious this offseason about getting a franchise quarterback (either by draft or free agency)? Will fed-up Falcons fans even care after another flustrating season?
After a season where one mind-numbing loss is preceded by another, the Falcons are testing the goodwill fans are willing to give them thanks to civic pride. No matter how cheap the hot dogs and beer are in Mercedes Benz Stadium or how appealing said facility is, the perennialy underachieving Falcons need to win consistently to put butts in the seats. The Falcons had been struggling to fill the stadium with cheering Falcons fans even before this season. This season, which ended with today’s loss, won’t change that situation.
This needs to be the last of Falcons seasons like the one that just ended.
And the one before that.
And the one before that.
By Brian Allen, editor and founder, Sports In The ATL
|BY THE NUMBERS
|Atlanta Falcons (7-10) 17
|New Orleans Saints (9-8) 48✅
|Yards per Play
|Third Down Conversions
|3 (1 turnover, 2 ints.)
22-30; 291yds; 2 TDs 1 Int.
22-28; 264 yds; 4 TDs
11 cars; 28 yds
13 cars; 73 yds, 1 TD
7 recs; 103 yds; 1 TD
3 recs; 65 yds; 1 TD