With five minutes remaining in the first quarter, it seemed like the same old story for Atlanta Falcons fans everywhere. The Buffalo Bills jumped out to a 14-0 lead and the defensive line was just too much for the Falcons to handle. Twitter was exploding on how the team was inevitably going to lose this game and how everyone should get ready to purchase their Jadeveon Clowney Falcons jersey. Little do they know that this Falcons team has yet to give up on their season nor will they ever do so. This team has too much pride, too much talent, and too much heart to ever give up.
Steven Jackson missed a chunk of the season with a hamstring injury and hasn’t been able to accomplish his totals from his previous years with the St. Louis Rams. No one is more frustrated with Jackson’s performance than he is and he has made that clear. He exploded into the endzone untouched with 2 and a half minutes remaining in the first to cut the Buffalo Bill’s lead to 14-7 before the second quarter. After a Dan Carpenter field goal gave the Bills a ten point lead, the Falcons went right back to business. Antone Smith found a touchdown of his own after running it in from 38 yards. After this carry, Smith was averaging an astonishing 29 yards per carry! A few minutes later, Matt Bryant drilled a 49 yard field goal to tie the game up at 17 heading into halftime.
For the first time in what seemed like forever, the Falcons had all of the momentum in the game. You could see the energy on the Falcons sideline and that translated in their play as well. Almost half way through the third quarter, Matt Ryan delivered a strike to Tony Gonzalez who found the endzone for an 11 yard touchdown. However, two minutes later, rookie Quarterback EJ Manuel found Fred Jackson for a 21 yard touchdown pass and both teams entered the 4th quarter tied at 21.
Then just as things seemed to be going right for Atlanta, C.J. Spiller found a hole and rushed for a 36 yard touchdown. Spiller also had a 77 yard rush earlier in the game and finished with 149 yards on 15 carries, and all of this while dealing with a high ankle sprain. The Falcons marched down the field and made it down to the Bills 5 yard line. After two incomplete passes and an unnecessary roughness penalty on Harry Douglas, the Falcons were forced to try to convert from 3rd and 16. It seemed that the momentum had run out and the Falcons losing streak would run to 6 games. However, on the very next play, Nickell Robey was called for Defensive Pass Interference giving the Falcons new life and Steven Jackson pounded his way into the endzone for his second touchdown of the game right after that.
The excitement seemed to end quickly though. Manual led the Bills quickly down the field and seemed to be in “chip shot” range for Dan Carpenter. Then out of no where, Robert McClain popped the ball out from Wide Receiver Stevie Johnson and William Moore was able to recover and send the game into overtime.
The Bills won the toss and received the ball, but it wouldn’t matter. After Manual completed a pass to Tight End Scott Chandler and then this time it was Moore who popped the ball out. Rookie Cornerback Robert Alford recovered and then pitched it off to fellow Rookie Corner Desmond Trufant, an extremely risky moved, but it seemed to work. A few plays later, Matt Bryant one of his trademark game-winning Field Goals. The Falcons losing streak stopped at 5 and the team moved to 3-9 overall.
This season has not gone the way the Falcons have wanted at all, but the amount of pride they continue to show week in and week out is truly admirable. The team was officially eliminated from the playoffs today, but that does not mean they are giving up anytime soon. They move on to play the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau next week in a game where they were flexed out of the Sunday Night spot. Will they use this to their advantage? The Pack may also be without starting Quarterback Aaron Rodgers for another game and are currently winless without him. If the Falcons are able to beat Green Bay on the road next week, don’t be surprised to see them beat Washington at home the week after that. And if they win that game, who knows what could happen. Don’t be surprised if this Falcons team is able to finish the season strong and end up at 6-10.