Bradley’s Buzz: No-fun Sunday! Falcons blow a lead! Braves, too!

Well, that was … something. The Falcons led by 16 points with 12 minutes left. The Braves scored five runs in the top of the ninth to take the lead, whereupon Kenley Jansen was summoned, whereupon the lead went away.

This being Atlanta, we’ve known many such Sundays. We’re tough. We’ll get over it. Possibly.

The Falcons losing a game that wound up being close was written on the wind. They were 7-2 in one-score games last season, which is how they finished 7-10 while being outscored by 146 points. Not to say we told you so, but we kind of did: Teams that win a disproportionate number of close games in one season invariably backslide, at least record-wise. In many ways, the NFL is a coin flip.

For three quarters Sunday, the Falcons accentuated the positives of having Marcus Mariota as your quarterback. He ran some, threw some. He also fumbled near the goal line and muffed the game’s biggest snap. He’s not a terrible player. Neither is he, by NFL standards, anything special.

Say what you will about Jameis Winston, but he still has moments when he reminds you what the fuss was about. He was terrible for three quarters Sunday. Then he won the game. In the fourth quarter, he completed 13 of 16 passes for 213 yards, two touchdowns and a 2-point conversion. Michael Thomas, once among the league’s best receivers, outdueled A.J. Terrell, among the league’s best cornerbacks. When Winston gets going, he’s something to behold.

Mariota, drafted No. 2 to Winston’s No. 1 in 2014, lacks that reach-back-for-it gear. He completed 20 passes for 215 yards. He averaged 6.5 yards per attempt, which isn’t good. His passer rating was 79.7, which isn’t, either. Granted, he put the Falcons in position to win. If he hadn’t flubbed the third-and-1 snap with 1:40 left, they have won. Such is life.

Think of it this way. Every loss brings the Falcons closer to giving Desmond Ridder a look, which should be the point of this season. Four of their next six games are on the road.

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About Kenley Jansen

The Braves aren’t stupid. They see what’s happening. Brian Snitker noted Sunday that Jansen leads the majors in saves. Left unsaid was that he’s tied for the lead in blown saves, with seven. Three of those have come in his past seven appearances.

Jansen has had rough patches before. He’s human. Given that the Braves don’t make a move without considering October, the deadline acquisition of Raisel Iglesias looms larger with every week. He’s a closer by trade, too.

Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos spent 2016 and 2017 with the Dodgers. Jansen had a loss and a blown save in the 2017 World Series against the Astros. Dave Roberts has fielded is-Jansen-still-your-closer questions nearly every postseason. In the 2018 Series, he blew consecutive games against Boston. When L.A. finally won in 2020, Jansen wasn’t deployed in Game 7 against the Braves or the closeout Game 6 against the Rays. Both times, Roberts went with Julio Urias, who’s mostly a starter.

The Braves signed Jansen knowing him well. (He has faced them 13 times in postseason.) He’s sometimes unhittable, but his wobbles can be pronounced. You always need a Plan B in October. Iglesias is it.

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About the Sun Belt, where It Just Means More

Marshall beat Notre Dame. Appalachian State upset Texas A&M&NIL. Georgia Southern finally impelled Nebraska to fire Scott Frost. Georgia State led North Carolina with one minute left in the third quarter. So how do we square Sun Belt Saturday with the narrative that the future of college football is superconferences?

Beats me. Though I would suggest the transfer portal cuts two ways. Chase Brice of Grayson, once Trevor Lawrence’s Clemson backup and more recently a Duke starter, is now at App State, which scared Carolina in Week 1 and left Jimbo Fisher speechless – we speak figuratively; Jimbo is never speechless – in Week 2.

Marshall quarterback Henry Colombi spent three seasons at Utah State, two more at Texas Tech. He’s a sixth-year senior. So is Stetson Bennett, of whom you’ve heard. So is Kyle Vantrease of Georgia Southern, who spent five years at Buffalo. He threw for 409 yards against Nebraska.

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About DQ, coach-in-waiting

Dan Quinn, serial blower of leads, declined head-coaching overtures to remain the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator. His defense held Tom Brady’s offense to one touchdown Sunday night. Mike McCarthy’s offense managed but a field goal, and now Dak Prescott is out with a bum thumb. Very soon, America’s Team will promote DQ and be holding Tell the Truth Mondays. Its players will be duly informed that, “It’s all about the ball.” (Although sometimes it’s about the final score.)