The Falcons’ slumping offense went up in opposition to the Patriots’ hovering protection Thursday evening. Let’s simply say, New England had an early Thanksgiving feast in opposition to these birds.
The one-sided nature of the Week 11 matchup peaked in the course of the fourth quarter when the Pats (7-4) intercepted all three Falcons quarterbacks and returned one of many picks for six.
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The truth is, the Falcons (4-6) had 4 possessions within the quarter and all of them ended with interceptions. Matt Ryan was picked off with 12 minutes to go and once more with 5 minutes remaining. After a gimpy Ryan was pulled from the sport on the two-minute warning with Atlanta down three scores, backups Josh Rosen and Feleipe Franks threw INTs on their respective possessions. Rosen’s INT, to Kyle Van Noy, went 35 yards the opposite approach for New England’s ultimate scoring in its 25-0 victory.
Should you’re questioning, this is not the primary time three totally different Falcons quarterbacks have been intercepted in the identical recreation. It additionally occurred in 1966 in the course of the crew’s inaugural season (Randy Johnson, Dennis Claridge, Steve Sloan in opposition to the 49ers).
And in keeping with The Related Press, the final time it occurred to any NFL crew was Nov. 12, 2000, when the Chargers’ Ryan Leaf, Jim Harbaugh and Moses Moreno have been picked off by the Dolphins.
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The primary Falcons interception was on a Ryan cross that was meant for rookie tight finish Kyle Pitts. The ball sailed nicely over Pitts’ head and into the arms of Devin McCourty on the Patriots’ 22. The play led to a New England area objective that made the rating 16-0.
“It was man-to-man protection. I used to be attempting to put it out in entrance and it felt like there was a number of contact, however we did not get a name there,” Ryan mentioned. “Attempting to place it excessive, give [Pitts] an opportunity to run and make a play, and it did not work out.”
Ryan’s second decide was on a excessive throw to the sideline that receiver Olamide Zaccheaus tipped into J.C. Jackson’s palms. New England transformed that turnover into one other area objective and a 19-0 lead.
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“If you get forward, that is sort of when a few of these performs come,” Patriots coach Invoice Belichick mentioned. “Devin’s interception was an enormous one after that they had the ball in good area place and had an opportunity to get again within the recreation. That was an enormous play for us.”
Belichick acknowledged that New England got here into the sport targeted on containing Pitts, a technique that turned extra pressing when huge receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (ankle) turned a late scratch. Pitts completed with three receptions for 29 yards.
“He is an enormous problem,” Belichick mentioned. He singled out the work of linebackers Ja’Whaun Bentley and Dont’a Hightower and defensive backs Adrian Phillips and Kyle Dugger.
“I believed our gamers did a great job, that they had good consciousness,” he mentioned. “They tried to throw a bunch of play-action passes and I believed that Bentley, Hightower, Phillips and Kyle Dugger, these guys had some good consciousness on among the over routes.”
To the Falcons’ credit score(?), the opposite 5 passes they tried within the quarter have been all accomplished to their receivers, so the ball by no means touched the bottom with Atlanta on offense within the ultimate interval.
The 4 interceptions Thursday gave the Patriots the NFL lead with 18, forward of the Payments’ 15. Twelve of the picks have come in opposition to Zach Wilson (4), Sam Darnold (three), Mike White (two), Tua Tagovailoa, Rosen and Franks (one every), however the different INTs have been in opposition to Ryan, Dak Prescott, Justin Herbert and Baker Mayfield.
Good quarterback, unhealthy quarterback, in-between quarterback, it does not matter. The underside line is that New England’s ball hawks are consuming nicely this yr.