National Football League News
Falcons need to search for stability
By Jim Brighters Sep 11, 2007, 20:29 GMT
- Remember the episode of 'Cheers' when Cliff was a contestant on 'Jeopardy?' The classic moment came in Final Jeopardy when Cliff answered, 'What are three people who have never been in my kitchen?'
Well for Week 1 of the NFL season, the answers are: Neptune, Peru, and the red zone. Postman Claven could have responded, 'What are three places the Falcons did not visit on Sunday?'
With former franchise quarterback Michael Vick getting his affairs in order, Joey Harrington failed to get his Falcons offense into the red zone once. The closest Atlanta came was the Minnesota 22-yard line in a 24-3 loss.
'I think he was inconsistent,' said first-year head coach Bobby Petrino. 'He did some good things because he distributed the ball at times well. We had six sacks as an offense and everybody has to take ownership of that. We just cannot have those types of negative plays.'
The sacks were not even the most negative plays on Sunday.
Harrington threw an interception on Atlanta's first possession and Kevin Williams returned it 54 yards for a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, with the game essentially over, Harrington was once again picked, this time by Antoine Winfield, who returned it for another score.
'It's frustrating because we did a lot of things right and then there was one or two bounces that went their way,' Harrington said after the game. 'We have got to give them credit for that. They came up with the big plays today. There's nothing you can say about that.'
Despite the two touchdowns Harrington spotted the Vikings, the Falcons offense wasn't all bad. Harrington was 23-for-32 with 199 yards and Atlanta rushed for 96 yards against the NFL's best rush defense in 2006. Warrick Dunn had 55 yards on the ground.
The problem was the mistakes. The sacks and interceptions all came at inopportune times that killed potential scoring drives. Matt Prater missed a field goal as well, and when you add it all up, these kind of flaws will not add to much success for the Falcons this year.
'We had a couple chances for some big plays and a couple chances for touchdowns,' said Petrino. 'They just didn't happen. One guy would break down here and one guy would break down there. So, it just wasn't all clicking there.'
ABOUT TIME FOR REAL FOOTBALL
In case you have been in a cave for the offseason, it was a tumultuous one for the Falcons.
The Vick dogfighting scandal loomed large over the team. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told Vick to stay away from camp, then he got indicted. Vick reached a plea deal, then Goodell suspended him indefinitely from the league.
All the while, Petrino came in from Louisville, trying to make the jump from his high-powered, NCAA offense to the big show.
'Like we have said for months now, it is something we have dealt with very well I think at the start of camp,' said Harrington. 'We have had to move on and come together with the pieces that we have and I think we have done that very well over the last month. It is not an issue anymore.'
NO ANSWER FOR THE ROOKIE
Adrian Peterson got into his NFL debut a little earlier than expected. He was on kickoff-return detail, but when Chester Taylor hurt his hip, Peterson was pressed into duty.
All he did was carry the ball 19 times for 103 yards. Peterson made a spectacular 60-yard touchdown catch, but the Falcons defense was not caught completely off guard by the play of the rookie.
'Great back, we already knew that,' said cornerback DeAngelo Hall. 'He is a load. With Chester Taylor going out today, it might of hurt us because he is a little bit smaller of a back, not really going to deliver a blow like an Adrian Peterson did. We knew we were going to see both of the running backs and we did not perform the way that I wished we could have performed.'
The offense might get some relief next week. The Falcons visit the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday afternoon. The Jaguars allowed the Tennessee Titans 282 yards on the ground last Sunday when they lost, 13-10. The Falcons have not visited Jacksonville in the regular season since 1996, but beat the Jaguars, 21-14 in their last meeting in the 2003 regular-season finale.
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