The Falcons fought for a half, but collapsed in the second half Sunday against the Texans and lost 53-32 at NRG Stadium, the site of the teams infamous Super Bowl LI defeat.
The Falcons led 17-16 at the half before being boat-raced 37-15 in the second half.
They are kicking themselves for not coming up with two early fumbles. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett popped running back Carlos Hyde and caused a fumble on the Texans’ second play of the game. With no Falcons in pursuit, Texans left guard Max Scharping recovered the ball.
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On the Texans’ second possession, Vic Beasley chased quarterback Deshaun Watson into Adrian Clayborn, who knocked the ball off Watson.
With no other Falcons in pursuit, Watson scooped up his own fumble and darted 15 yards to pick up the first down.
Get those two turnovers early and maybe the game is a little different.
The Falcons have had problems putting full games together this season. They fell behind in first halves against the Vikings, Colts and Tennessee by a collective 65-10 score.
The Falcons dropped to 1-4 and appear headed nowhere fast.
On to the grades:
Run offense: Devonta Freeman had 11 carries for 30 yards and the whispers to switch to Ito Smith are getting louder. Smith rushed five times for 19 yards. Freeman did have a 21-yard run against the Texans. But overall, the Falcons averaged a paltry 2.9 yards per carry. Grade: D
Pass offense: Matt Ryan completed 32 of 46 passes for 330 yards, three touchdowns and one late interception that was returned for a touchdown. He finished with a passer rating 102.6. Austin Hooper and Smith led the way with six catches. Julio Jones had three catches for 42 yards and was not a factor. Wide receiver Calvin Ridley had a nice foot drag on his 29-yard touchdown catch. Ridley, Freeman and Mohamed Sanu all had touchdown catches. Grade: B-minus
Run defense: Carlos Hyde led the charge for the Texans as he rushed for 60 yards on 21 carries. The Texans amassed 166 yards on 34 carries for a strong 4.9 yards per carry. The Falcons run defense is lacking. Linebacker Deion Jones led the way with 11 tackles. Grade: F
Pass defense: Watson was comfortable in the pocket as the Falcons couldn’t mount much of a rush against a line that had been pretty bad. With time to throw, Watson sat back and picked the Falcons apart. He completed 28 of 33 passes for 426 yards and five touchdowns. He finished with a perfect passer rating of 158.3. Second-year cornerback Isaiah Oliver had another rough outing. He finished with six tackles, but was giving chase on several plays. Rookie Kendall Sheffield played some outside and some at nickel after Damontae Kazee left the game in the third quarter with an apparent concussion. The Falcons drafted Oliver in the second round of the 2018 draft and released incumbent starter Robert Alford to make room for him. Through five games, Oliver is still finding his way. Sheffield, a fourth-round pick in the 2019 draft, is coming on and may compete for some playing time. “He certainly is ready,” Quinn said. Grade: F
Special teams: Punter Matt Wile punted five times and averaged a net 45.8 yards. He placed two punts down inside the 20. He had two of his kickoffs go out of bounds. Kendall Sheffield had four returns for 64 yards for an average of 16 yards per return. Teams like to get around 25 yards on kickoff returns. Matt Bryant made all four of his extra-point attempts. Grade: D-minus
Coaching: In this one, the Falcons were ready to play. The Falcons actually had a lead at halftime before collapsing in the second half. So, we can file this one in the “bad halftime” speeches folder. There was some disconnect before the team took the field in the second half. The Falcons looked confused on defense, while not playing a complex scheme. The Texans said the Falcons were playing hard. The defensive braintrust could not come up with a formula to get a stop or at least slow down Watson and the Texans offense. When you give up 592 yards of offense, there is a major problem somewhere along the factory line. After Will Fuller V caught seven of his 14 passes, maybe the Falcons should have switched things up. He ended up with 217 yards and three touchdowns while doing his Jerry Rice impersonation. Grade: F.
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