ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Falcons were reminded again Monday night that last year is not this year.
After coming from 13 points down in the fourth quarter to take a one-point lead with 1:54 to go, the Falcons watched Nick Folk kick a 43-yard field goal at the final horn to give the New York Jets a 30-28 win.
The loss dropped the Falcons to 1-4 for the season less than 10 months after they came within 10 yards of reaching the Super Bowl.
To add injury to insult, Falcons wideout Roddy White and running back Jason Snelling left the game with injuries.
"We're just not making the plays we need to make," said Atlanta coach Mike Smith, who'll have a bye week to correct the situation before hosting Tampa Bay on Oct. 20.
"It's a group effort. There's a sense of urgency every time we go out and play."
That urgency was rarely on display in the first half. The Jets blocked a punt on Atlanta's opening possession but had to settle for a field goal and a 3-0 lead.
Said Smith of that miscue: "A blocked punt is usually a telltale sign when you lose."
The next time the Falcons had the ball, White fumbled after a long catch, but teammate Julio Jones scooped it up and ran another 11 yards. Atlanta eventually scored a touchdown on that drive on a 4-yard pass from Matt Ryan to Snelling and led 7-3 seven seconds into the second quarter.
But then the Jets scored twice before halftime, both on passes from rookie quarterback Geno Smith, and led 17-7 at the break after converting four of five third downs into firsts.
If any single play in the first half will be long remembered past the blocked punt, it assuredly will be the final snap of the second quarter. With one second on the game clock and 1 yard from the goal, Smith elected to go for a touchdown rather than a kick a field goal and pull within a touchdown at the break.
"They're fourth in the league in explosive plays, and they were going to get the ball first in the third quarter," Smith said. "We felt like we needed to score a touchdown there."
Instead, they scored no points and lost by two.
Yet the third quarter did begin much better for the home team. Atlanta's defense stiffened and the offense scored on its first possession to pull within 17-14 following a 4-yard run by Jacquizz Rodgers.
However, after another defensive hold, Ryan fumbled, Folk drilled his second field goal of the night and the fourth quarter began with the visitors in front 20-14.
When Smith passed to Kellen Winslow along the right side of the end zone three minutes into the final period, New York was suddenly in front 27-14. Less than four minutes later, however, the Falcons were back in it.
Rodgers started up the middle from the Jets' 19, turned left and outraced the men in green to the end zone to pull Atlanta within 27-21 with 8:03 to go. Then they took the lead, Ryan hitting third-team tight end Levine Toilolo from 3 yards out to give Atlanta a lead it would give back one minute and 54 seconds later.
"We haven't scored more points than [the other team has] in four of our games," Ryan said afterward, mindful that Atlanta had 11 more first downs and 75 more offensive yards than the Jets. "Certainly we're a talented football team, but that's where we're at."
Contact Mark Wiedmer at email@example.com
Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...