The Atlanta Falcons needed a bounce-back game after three straight tough losses, and on Sunday, they got exactly that, beating the New York Jets, 25-20.
Here's what we learned from the afternoon:
- The Falcons ended their three-game losing streak, but they were far from perfect. Matt Ryan lost three fumbles on the snap exchange, accounting for two turnovers and a failed 2-point conversion attempt. Austin Hooper dropped a sure touchdown. They had just two touchdowns in six red-zone trips. A punt return touchdown was wiped out by penalty. And yet, it was still good enough to beat the Jets, who do just enough to lose every week. It's the sign of a truly good bad team.
- For the third consecutive game, the Jets scored a touchdown on their opening drive. They're also 0-3 in those games, so go figure. This time, an eight-play, 75-yard drive ended with a 20-yard strike from Josh McCown to tight end Eric Tomlinson. Credit goes to Jets offensive coordinator Johnnie Morton, who is obviously doing a nice job scouting these opposing defenses and has had a nice season overall.
- The best one-on-one battle of the day was Julio Jones vs. Morris Claiborne, at least while it lasted. The Jets cornerback did an excellent job keeping the Falcons' All-Pro playmaker in check before Claiborne was forced out of the game with a foot injury. With Claiborne sidelined, Jones made his lone impact play of the game -- a 54-yard reception where he easily got behind Darryl Roberts. It was surprising that Ryan did not target Jones more after Claiborne went out, but there's a lot about the Atlanta offense that's difficult to understand this season.
- This game turned for good when Jets punt returner Jeremy Kerley backpedaled, then muffed a high-arching punt by Matt Bosher midway through the fourth quarter. If Kerley fields the punt -- or better yet, lets it go over his head and skip through the back of the end zone for a touchback -- the Jets have the ball down two with nearly seven minutes to play. Atlanta recovered, kicked a field goal (Matt Bryant went 4-for-4 in terrible conditions) and the Jets never threatened again.