In the end, the defining loss of the Falcons season was the 14-9 stinker against the Vikings. In that game, the defense allowed a couple of maddening drives but held up well overall, and the offense essentially took all of the advantages implied by its talent and did nothing with them. The score of that game was eerily similar to the 15-10 loss the Falcons suffered yesterday against the Eagles, which ended a season that went further than many of us anticipated in October or even November.
This season, coming as it did after an absolutely wretched Super Bowl loss, looks fairly successful. The team shook off its supposed Super Bowl hangover and an awful run against the AFC East to go 10-6 and upset a favored #3 seed in the Rams, after all. Very few Super Bowl losers make it back to the big game the next year, and perhaps the expectations conferred by that nice 26-13 wins over the Rams were too much.
But like many of you, I’ll close out this season feeling as though the Falcons missed an opportunity. Atlanta’s hiring of Steve Sarkisian for offensive coordinator was controversial from the moment it was made, but for reasons that had much to do with him (but not everything to do with him), this offense regressed mightily from 2016. They scored 200 fewer points, roughly, and laid an absolute egg against an intimidating Eagles defense. The fact that they were so agonizingly close to winning does not offer me much succor.
It was made worse by the defense. The fact that Atlanta allowed Nick Foles to march down the field against them was infuriating and unfortunate after they made real strides in 2017, but it’s the mark of a defense that still isn’t quite there yet. Their progress was still one of the most encouraging things about this year.
At the end of the day, I’m not talking as much about the game as the season. What the Falcons did against Philadelphia was a worst case scenario, more or less, against a gifted football team down its franchise…