Falcons Three-and-Out: Week 7 vs. Chargers
The Atlanta Falcons fell to 4-3 on the season with a loss at home against the San Diego Chargers, 33-30.
1. Key Penalties Hurt Falcons
This loss felt very similar to the Week 1 loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where the Falcons couldn't get out of their own way and committed penalties at the wrong times. Multiple false starts and holding calls on the offensive line stunted Falcons' drives and shut the door on any momentum the offense was gaining.
Committing multiple false starts at home should be almost unheard of. And the Falcons had back-to-back false starts that hurt them late in the fourth quarter.
2. Poor Defensive Play-Calling
The Atlanta defense yielded 426 total yards on Sunday against a good San Diego Chargers offense. The biggest issue was the Falcons' conservative zone defense, which allowed San Diego to exploit underneath receivers and running backs against linebackers in space.
There were too many plays where quarterback Philip Rivers dumped the ball off to receivers and running backs underneath and gained 15 yards. The Falcons clearly were keyed in on stopping San Diego's vertical passing game, but Rivers simply took the underneath throws all day long and torched the defense.
3. Julio Jones Continues to Dominate
Wide receiver Julio Jones had another explosive game and hauled in nine receptions for 174 yards. As usual, he made multiple clutch catches and gave the Falcons a chance to win the game with a 58-yard Matt Bryant field goal attempt that missed just left.
There is no question Julio is the most dominant receiver in the league. Even as defenses key in on him all game long, he repeatedly makes incredible catches and gives the Falcons an opportunity to contend week in and week out.
The Falcons face another tough test next week at home against quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the 4-2 Green Bay Packers. Rodgers has a 3-2 record against Atlanta in his career with 1,746 yards passing, 12 touchdowns, and one interception. This team will have to play smarter and more aggressive defense next week to stop Rodgers and his passing attack.
Josh Schultz is a staff writer for Pro Football Spot's Atlanta Falcons Coverage. Follow Josh on twitter @draftblackboard and on his Facebook page: Josh Schultz, Pro Football Spot.