The Atlanta Falcons went out with a whimper in the playoffs for the second straight year. Both Mike Smith and Matt Ryan- in fact, most of the team- have now fallen to 0-3 in all playoff appearances.
The defense played an inspired first half, holding this Giants offense to only seven points through the first 30 minutes of the ball game. Both Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks were practically non-factors during that span. Eli Manning had to settle for short throws, and the Falcons were in striking distance.
But the offense... the offense was atrocious. An offensive squad featuring Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez managed zero points of offense against a defense that can only be described as mediocre. Some would call their secondary even worse. Yet, the Giants managed to stifle Ryan and pressure him with ease, and Turner was a non-factor in the playoffs for the third time in his career.
If stopping the Falcons on offense is this easy, despite having one of the most gifted squads in the NFL, it's pretty clear where the problem lies. Coaching, as it has done before, failed the Falcons faithful this year. The playcalling on both fourth downs was questionable. The clock management at times was even worse.
The defense, though they played well, simply wore down from being on the field for so long. It's hardly their blame to shoulder. At this point, I think the Falcons need to go back to the drawing board and simply restructure the entire offense. It's the only way.
The Falcons put together a solid season, but ultimately there were problems to big to fix in one week's worth of gameplanning. But with a young team chock-full of talent that will remain in Atlanta for a long time, this will hardly be the last we hear from the Falcons.
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