For the first half of this game, the Atlanta Falcons did something that nobody expected: Stayed in contention with a tough-nosed Buffalo Bills team. Alas, their effort falls short, with a score of 29-15. With that, the Falcons are officially out of the playoffs. Buffalo dominated the Falcons in the trenches, exposing Atlanta’s most pressing need going into the off-season. However, the Falcons did not go down without a fight, even if it was a gunfight and Atlanta only had a swiss-army knife. Let’s take a look at how the Falcons ultimately got bullied out of the playoffs by the Bills.
Atlanta Falcons Out of Playoffs After Getting Bullied by Buffalo Bills
Falcons Put Up Strong Fight
The Falcons, however, did not go gentle into this good night. They gave Buffalo everything they could handle. One of the biggest positives for this game is that Pro-Bowl tight end Kyle Pitts exceeded the 1,000-yard mark. This feat makes him only the second tight end to gain over 1,000 yards (Mike Ditka). Also, he eclipsed long-time Falcon Julio Jones’ record for most receiving yards by a rookie.
Kyle Pitts is the first rookie tight end to record 1️⃣0️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ receiving yards since Mike Ditka in 1961. pic.twitter.com/gs4CVul4Gj
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) January 2, 2022
This game started in Atlanta’s favor. On the first drive, Avery Williams knocked a Marquez Stevenson punt return into the end zone for a safety. Thus, giving Atlanta their first safety since 2008, committed by Phillip Rivers, on the San Diego Chargers.
The Atlanta running game averaged 4.4 yards-per-carry on 22 carries. Mike Davis had a good outing with eight carries and 42 yards with a touchdown.
Josh Allen ended the game without a touchdown pass, and the defense ended up with three interceptions. The last time Allen did this? In the Josh Allen bowl, the Jacksonville Jaguars upset the Bills 9-6.
Defensively, they did everything that they could to keep this game close. Duron Harmon caught himself an interception off of a Foye Oluokun deflection. Speaking of Oluokun, he’s made himself into a go-to guy in the middle with 13 more tackles and an interception. A.J. Terrell had the difficult task of going one-on-one with Stefon Diggs for most of the day. He ended up giving up only 52 yards on five receptions on nine targets. Yet, somehow Terrell is not a pro-bowler. Make it make sense.
The Bills Bullied the Falcons up Front
Now, for the bad news. The Falcons only put up 15 points on a day where they averaged 4.4 yards a carry. Matt Ryan was sacked five times on Sunday. Including one huge one after the Oluokun interception where the offense started at the 25-yard line.
Atlanta just foiled the Bills chance to take the lead after the half. They have an opportunity to push their lead to eight points. After a two-yard loss on a Davis run, the Falcons had a chance to keep the drive going. A chance to, at the least, make it a four-point game before giving it back to a struggling Bills defense. Instead of a short gain, or even an incompletion and keeping them in field goal range, Ryan is sacked. They lose just enough field position to knock them out of field goal range. After another incompletion to Davis, again forced by Ryan having to extend the play, the Falcons had to punt. After being in prime field goal range. The Bills then outscored Atlanta 15-0 to seal the game.
Josh Allen, while struggling in the passing game, made tackling dummies out of the Atlanta front-seven. Allen ended up with 81 yards on the ground while Devin Singletary became yet another 100-yard rusher that the Falcons allowed with 110 yards on the ground.
Falcons Look To Off-Season
The Falcons are officially knocked out of the 2021 NFL playoffs after getting bullied by the Bills. It seems that Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot used 2021 as an evaluation year for the roster. So, it leads to wonder was this year a success? At the beginning of the year, it was expected that this team would hover around the .500 mark. At 7-9, they have a chance to end the season at 8-9 as they go against a depleted New Orleans Saints team.
It was nice to be in late December and even early January playing meaningful games. Plus, the Falcons may still end up with a top-ten pick with a loaded draft ahead. That spells nothing but good news for a Falcons team that is looking towards the future.
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