For the third time in their past six games, the Atlanta Falcons lost a game after failing to score a touchdown in the red zone on an outcome-determining drive.
The Falcons were out-played, out-schemed and out-coached against the Pats, and they would have likely suffered their third largest home defeat under head coach Mike Smith but for a couple of fortuitous bounces late in the game.
Let's begin what promises to be a long week for the Falcons by dishing out our game grades from their Week 4 bout with New England.
* All stats courtesy of ESPN.com.
1. Matt Ryan
Analysis: Ryan threw for 421 yards, but many of those yards came after Atlanta fell behind 30-13 in the fourth quarter. Ryan missed badly on a fourth-down throw to Roddy White in the second quarter, and he was also off on passes to Harry Douglas and Tony Gonzalez on Atlanta's last drive.
Ryan has to take part of blame for this team failing to score a touchdown on an outcome-determining drive, yet again, because the offense starts and stops with him.
1. Jacquizz Rodgers
Analysis: Rodgers couldn't get much going on the ground, but he made a big contribution as a receiver.
2. Jason Snelling
Analysis: Snelling ran the ball hard and converted a couple of key third-and-short plays in the first half, but Atlanta needed more out of Rodgers and Snelling with Steven Jackson out.
1. Julio Jones
Analysis: Jones battled through New England's frustrating shell coverage and made some plays at the end of the game. He dropped a catchable pass on Atlanta's first drive of the third quarter that stalled a drive at the New England 42.
2. Roddy White
Analysis: Kudos to Roddy White for playing through his injury, but save for drawing a pass-interference penalty on Aqib Talib on a deep pass, White was relatively quiet again.
3. Harry Douglas
Analysis: Douglas was a non-factor until his 40-yard reception in the fourth quarter. Many say Douglas needs more looks in this offense, but on a night where the Patriots did everything they could to take away Julio Jones, Douglas didn't necessarily seize the opportunity.
1. Tony Gonzalez
Analysis: Gonzalez easily had his best game of the season and appeared to be the only Falcons player who came to play for much of the game.
2. Levine Toilolo
Analysis: Toilolo had his shot at being much more than a backup tight end bounce right off of his hands in the end zone on Atlanta's penultimate offensive possession.
1. Sam Baker
Analysis: Baker had already drawn a holding penalty when he left the game early in the second quarter with an injury.
2. Justin Blalock
Analysis: The Falcons were only able to rush for 58 yards, even though Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork left the game with an injury in the first quarter. Atlanta's interior offensive linemen have to take a lot of the heat for that.
3. Peter Konz
Analysis: Konz had a nice block on one of Jason Snelling's short-yardage conversions, but he was beaten badly for a drive-killing sack when he overextended himself in a one-on-one situation. At the time of the sack, the Falcons were trying to answer a Patriots field goal that put them up 13-10 in the third quarter.
4. Garrett Reynolds
Analysis: Like Blalock, Reynolds' grade suffers because of Atlanta's inability to dominate the line of scrimmage with Vince Wilfork out of the game.
5. Jeremy Trueblood
Analysis: Trueblood missed a block that led to a tackle for a loss in the run game, and he also appeared to get away with at least one hold in pass protection.
6. Lamar Holmes
Analysis: Holmes continued his baptism by fire with another hot and cold outing. New England's coverage in the secondary made things tougher for him and Trueblood. While the Patriots didn't put up huge sack numbers, they blitzed Matt Ryan much more than Atlanta blitzed Tom Brady.
1. Osi Umenyiora
Analysis: Umenyiora had a few "almost" plays but was otherwise quiet after a strong outing against the Dolphins. New England's ability to run the ball and execute play-action passes really stifled Atlanta's pass rush.
2. Jonathan Babineaux
Analysis: Like Umenyiora, Babineaux almost made a couple of plays in the backfield. However, giving up 132 yards on the ground the way the Falcons did isn't going to cut it.
3. Corey Peters
Analysis: The Patriots offensive line won more battles up front than the Falcons did, and Corey Peters was often a casualty of those fights. All of the Falcons interior defensive linemen earned low grades here because of what the Patriots were able to do on the ground.
4. Jonathan Massaquoi
Analysis: Massaquoi had a nice tackle for a loss on a run play towards the end of the third quarter, but the Falcons defense allowed the Patriots to convert a third-and-19 two plays later. The Falcons also failed to sack Tom Brady.
5. Malliciah Goodman
Analysis: Goodman came close to making a couple of plays. But as Atlanta found out at the end of this game, "close" just isn't good enough when you're playing the Patriots.
6. Peria Jerry
Analysis: Like Babineaux and Peters, Jerry's grade suffers because of Atlanta's failure to shut down New England's ground game.
1. Akeem Dent
Analysis: Dent was having a solid outing until he extended a Patriots drive with a holding penalty. A few plays later, Dent left the game with an injury following LaGarrette Blount's 47-yard touchdown run.
2. Joplo Bartu
Analysis: Bartu got caught in some awkward situations in coverage and was fooled on a few of New England's play-action passes. He bears some responsibility for the Patriots success on the ground as well.
3. Paul Worrilow
Analysis: Worrilow's night ended early when he left the game with an injury.
4. Stephen Nicholas
Analysis: Nicholas came in and contributed a couple of tackles to Atlanta's cause, but he looks like nothing more than a backup at this point.
5. Omar Gaither
Analysis: Like Nicholas, Gaither did about as much as you would expect from a backup linebacker subbing in late in a game. Nicholas and Gaither earn "C+" grades because they are essentially "C+" linebackers for Atlanta.
1. William Moore
Analysis: Moore almost had an interception Week 1 at New Orleans, and he almost made a play on a deep ball thrown to Kembrell Thompkins on Sunday night. However, Moore did make a couple of big hits in the run game, including one that prevented LeGarrette Blount from converting a first down prior to Tom Brady's fumble in the fourth quarter. Moore's grade takes a hit with the rest of the secondary because they allowed New England to convert a third-and-19 when they had eight men in coverage.
2. Thomas DeCoud
Analysis: DeCoud hasn't played well all year, and he probably had his worst game on Sunday night. He appeared to put forth a lackluster effort on LeGarrette Blount's run, and he looked passive in coverage for much of the game.
3. Desmond Trufant
Analysis: Trufant was beaten by a fellow rookie on the touchdown that gave the Patriots their first double-digit lead of the game in the fourth quarter. A baptism by fire is one thing, but Trufant should put forth a better showing against a fellow rookie.
4. Robert McClain
Analysis: McClain struggled with some of the same kind of short routes that he struggled with against the Dolphins last week. Like his teammates in the defensive backfield, McClain seemed like he was always on his heels.
5. Robert Alford
Analysis: New England's young receivers looked miles ahead of Atlanta's young defensive backs. Alford struggled most of the night, much like Trufant and McClain did.
1. Matt Bryant
Analysis: Bryant did what he was asked to do this week and made all three of his field goal attempts.
2. Matt Bosher
Analysis: Bosher helped Atlanta play better situational football on special teams by nailing a couple of nice punts that forced the Patriots to start drives deep in their own territory.
1. Mike Smith
Analysis: The Falcons looked overmatched from the start of the game against the Pats, and they didn't look like they were playing with much energy. Once again, the Falcons suffered a lull in the second half, as the Patriots turned a 10-10 game into a 30-13 New England lead. For a coach who's won so many games, Smith looked out of his league during the chess match with Bill Belichick.
Atlanta's near miraculous comeback aside, Smith's failure to have this team play with urgency is quite concerning.
2. Dirk Koetter
Analysis: How many times does Atlanta have to fall short in the red zone with the game on the line before Koetter finds a combination of plays that get the ball in the end zone? Beyond that, the Patriots decision to double Julio Jones all game shouldn't have been too big of a surprise. There's no excuse for Atlanta's offense not being able to do do a better job of finding ways to exploit the Patriots decision to commit so much to stopping Julio Jones.
3. Mike Nolan
Analysis: As we stated, New England's young wide receivers looked ahead of Atlanta's young corners. The Falcons are depending on Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford quite a bit, but their performance during Sunday's outing against their fellow rookies raises some legitimate concerns. Nolan also has to take some heat here for allowing the Patriots to convert a third-and-19 deep in their own territory in the fourth quarter.