The Atlanta Falcons could teach a course on how to lose in brazenly bizarre fashion. It would be a depressing class highlighted by Sunday’s Week 7 failure against Detroit.
Todd Gurley took a handoff with 1:12 left in the game, and despite a plan to not score, the running back couldn’t keep his momentum from carrying him across the goal-line for a TD. The Falcons went up 22-16 after the sequence, but the play allowed Matthew Stafford and the Lions to drive down the field for the game-winning touchdown.
Gurley said he was “mad as hell” for botching the plan to get down before scoring, which would have allowed the Falcons to run the clock down and kick a chip-shot game-winning field goal.
Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris, however, placed blame for the botched ending at his own feet.
“I said this before and I’ll say it again, I feel like I made the mistake for putting Todd in that spot,” Morris said, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s a little harder probably than me and you think to stop from going in. Obviously, it is. … I made a bad decision from the 10-yard line to give him the ball thinking he could stop before he got there.
“Probably should have put the ball in Matt Ryan’s hands and took the knee, like I said before. That’s probably the biggest regret from the game. … I know I’ve said that clearly to (the media). I’ve said it clearly to the team. Moving forward, we won’t make that mistake again.”
The Falcons have blown fourth-quarter leads three times this season. In each instance, Atlanta enjoyed a win probability of 98 percent or better. The rest of the NFL has suffered eight such losses since 2016 (including ATL in Super Bowl LI), according to the Next Gen Stats model.
Four of the Falcons’ six losses have come by seven points or fewer, and Atlanta is 1-5 when leading at any point during the game (most losses in the NFL in 2020).
Thursday night against division rival Carolina, the Falcons have their latest chance to rewrite the narrative surrounding a season gone awry. Or will they author a new, creative entry in their Book of Losing?