The New England Patriots held on to win 30-23 on Sunday night in Atlanta after a wild fourth quarter rally by the Falcons fell short. Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib finished off another huge game with a deflection in the end zone on Atlanta's final offensive play. The play was reminiscent of when Ryan threw an incompletion to end lat season's NFC Championship Game. Or perhaps the incompletion to end Atlanta's Week 1 loss in New Orleans.
The similarities in the endings are uncanny, but that shouldn't overshadow Atlanta's larger issues. The Falcons' red zone problems are becoming a recurring theme. They wasted opportunities last week against Miami. On Sunday, they entered the red zone six times. They came away with one touchdown in those six trips.
Also, their defense lacks playmakers. Tom Brady had his best game of the season in Atlanta, with Kenbrell Thompkins and Julian Edelman both topping 100 yards receiving. Atlanta also struggled to stop New England's running game.
Atlanta now is 1-3 on the season. They would have to win 12 straight games to match their win total from a year ago. Forget about home-field advantage; the Falcons have to worry about staying in the NFC South division race. The New Orleans Saints still haven't lost this season.
The Patriots, now 4-0, continue to overachieve. But that's nothing new for the Bill Belichick era. Their defense is better than it has been since 2007, and the offense should only get better with rookie seasoning and healthier weapons down the stretch.
There isn't a lot separating 4-0 from 1-3 in the NFL, but this result tells us more about the Falcons. All those close victories from a season ago are turning into gut-wrenching defeats.