Here are the grades for the Falcons from their 23-7 loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
About the only highlight for the Falcons was wide receiver Julio Jones going over the 8,000-yard receiving mark in his career, becoming the second-fastest player to reach that mark behind Lance Alworth.
Jones had 8,007 yards after making a catch for a 14-yard gain late in the second quarter. Jones had his first touchdown catch of the season with 4:09 left to play, ending a 91 minute, 20 second scoring drought for the offense over the past two games.
Run offense: The Falcons tried to get the running game going early, but were stymied. Devonta Freeman had five carries for 16 yards and Tevin Coleman had three carries for five yards in the first half. When the run game is shut down, Ryan is not effective off his play-action fakes. The Falcons refused to run power offense. They called a jet sweep to wide receiver Taylor Gabriel on fourth-and-goal in the third quarter, down 20-0. Freeman rushed 12 times for 72 yards. Coleman had six rushes for 16 yards.
Grade: D minus
Pass offense: Ryan’s string of consecutive games passing for at least 200 yards was in jeopardy heading into the fourth quarter. He had 161 yards on 14 of 24 passes with 13:46 left. The return of Mohamed Sanu was helpful, but the passing game is not clicking. Ryan only targeted the running backs against the shaky New England linebackers just twice until they were down 20-0. Tight end Austin Hooper, who dropped a key pass against the Dolphins, was not a part of the game plan. Levine Toilolo started and Hooper did not receive any passes until late in the fourth quarter. Ryan completed 23 of 33 passes for 233 yards and one touchdown. Grade: F
Run defense: The run defense was gashed again. Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead, who was sought by the Falcons in free agency, did most of the damage. The Patriots became the third straight team to rush for more than 100 yards against the Falcons. They ran for a season-high 162 yards. The Falcons gave up 138 yards last week against the Dolphins. The Bills rushed for 117 in the previous game. The Patriots were able to find success running through the middle of the Falcons defense, which was without linebacker Duke Riley for most of the game. He suffered a knee injury in the first half and did not return. Lewis rushed 13 times for 76 yards. Mike Gillislee rushed eight times for 31 yards and Burkhead had 31 yards on six carries. Grade: F
Pass defense: The Falcons did a credible job on Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, but quarterback Tom Brady was able to move the ball around to wide receivers Chris Hogan, Brandin Crooks and Danny Amendola. Much like he did in Super Bowl LI, Brady used running back James White as the check down back. Grade: D
Special teams: The Falcons’ second possession ended with Matt Bryant’s 37-yard field goal attempt being blocked by reserve defensive end Cassius Marsh. The right side of the line was collapsed. Bryant later hit the left upright on a missed 36-yard field goal. Matt Bosher had 4.73 seconds of hang time on his first punt of the game, a high and unreturnable 35-yarder. Grade: F
Coaching: The Falcons were not ready to play and got out-coached in all phases of the game. The Patriots took it to defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel, offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong. The Falcons run defense is getting pushed around with defenders getting blocked out of the gaps they are supposed to control. The once-potent offense has clearly taken a step back. Grade: F.
Next up: The Falcons (3-3) travel to play the New York Jets (3-4) at 1 p.m. Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.