The Atlanta Falcons ran into a buzzsaw on their home turf, as the New England Patriots dominated the home team 25-0. The Patriots have won five games in a row and look like the most dangerous team in the AFC.
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Mac Jones‘ interception that landed in A.J. Terrell‘s hands was more due to the cornerback's athletic abilities than Jones’ decision making, and it still may have been Jones' worst throw in his last 100 dropbacks. His stat line won’t be displayed in Canton, but his ability to take what the defense gives him has been more than enough for the Patriots offense.
Damian Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson split New England's backfield workload, as both ran for over 50 yards and punished the Falcons defense between the tackles. Each back finished with three gains of over 10 yards and forced three missed tackles.
|Player||Attempts||Yards Per Carry||Missed Tackles Forced||Gains of 10+ Yards|
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
With the Falcons opting for a lot of single-high coverage on Thursday night, Jones distributed the ball to the short area of the field frequently. Short of fullback Jakob Johnson, every offensive player who ran a route for New England received a target. Jakobi Meyers led the way with six.
New England's run schemes create clean pockets when it’s time to pass the ball due to how well the Patriots marry their run and pass looks, as both look the same when the ball is snapped. Even without the design, New England's offensive line probably would have been fine against an Atlanta pass-rush unit that has struggled to generate pressure all season long. No Patriots lineman allowed more than one pressure on the night.
Atlanta's ground attack rarely make it beyond the first level of the Patriots’ defense often, as New England's defensive line finished with five run stops Thursday night. Davon Godchaux and Matthew Judon both recorded sacks.
Dont’a Hightower is once again a destructive force in the run game, as he finished with two tackles for loss. Kyle Van Noy added one of his own, and Ja’Whaun Bentley continued to be a battering ram against guards and lead blockers.
New England's secondary recorded two of the team's three interceptions against Atlanta. J.C. Jackson made a tightrope grab along the sideline while Adrian Phillips undercut an out-breaking route to intercept a pass.
Matt Ryan has quietly had one of the best seasons of the elder statesmen QBs, but he still can't make up for the massive talent gaps between the Falcons and their weekly opponents. The Patriots were able to play tight coverage throughout the game, which eliminated Ryan's ability to push the ball downfield.
Qadree Ollison isn’t a creative back with the ball in his hands, so it shouldn't be surprising that he was ineffective versus the Patriots' experienced defensive front. He averaged less than four yards per carry.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Tight end Kyle Pitts has had an excellent rookie campaign, but no one knows how to eliminate a star player as well as Bill Belichick. The tight end was targeted only five times, which resulted in 29 yards and one first down on three receptions.
Kyle Pitts' receiving production vs. Patriots
|Yards Per Route Run||.94|
|YAC Per Reception||1.0|
Atlanta had been pretty efficient over the last month in the passing game by getting the ball out quickly and protecting Ryan when he needed to hold the ball longer. Against the Patriots' red hot defense, Jalen Mayfield and Matt Hennessy allowed 10 combined pressures.
Dante Fowler and Grady Jarrett are the only two Atlanta defensive linemen most casual fans would recognize, and they were the Falcons' only productive defensive linemen. Fowler recorded a pair of pressures and shared credit for a sack while Jarrett added a run stop.
It's fair to wonder if it's time for the Falcons to move on from Deion Jones as the centerpiece of their defense considering the lack of explosiveness around him. He operated best when the entire defense was fast under Dan Quinn, but he has struggled to add value against the run or the pass without his old running mates.
Deion Jones vs. Patriots
|Run Stops/Run Defense Snaps||1/27|
|Pressures/Pass Rush Snaps||0/5|
|Coverage Targets/Catches Allowed||1/1|
A.J. Terrell posted the highlight of the night for Atlanta’s defense, undercutting a deep crossing route for an interception and a decent return. It's hard to ascertain whether Terrell is a top-flight CB given his role in Atlanta's Cover-2-heavy scheme, but he flashed his plus athletic ability Thursday night.