Falcons vs Texans: 5 Things We Learned in Atlanta's 17-10 Loss

Alex WelchCorrespondent IIDecember 4, 2011

Falcons vs Texans: 5 Things We Learned in Atlanta's 17-10 Loss

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    There wasn't much that went Atlanta's way in their 17-10 loss to the Houston Texans. Instead of leaving on a three-game win streak, the Falcons now head to Carolina with a 7-5 record.

    Atlanta gave up their first 100-yard game to an opposing running back this season, fitting that it would come against last year's rushing champion. 

    The Falcons didn't put points on the scoreboard until five minutes to go in the first half, with a 19-yard field goal from Matt Bryant. Despite their scoring woes, they were in the game the entire way, and had a chance to tie things up as time expired.

    With injuries, penalties and absolute confusion at times, it was a disappointing performance in general for the Dirty Birds. But, it was against one of the best defenses in the league. While it was tough to watch at times, the Falcons will have a lot to take away from this loss.

    Here's a look at some of the things we learned about the team this week. 

Atlanta Had Several Opportunities to Win

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    Despite the lack of rhythm on offense, the Falcons stuck around for the whole 60 minutes. They finished with the same amount of total yards as the Texans (337), but couldn't quite make it happen.

    Mike Peterson found his way into the end zone on an interception return, only to see it negated by a Dunta Robinson holding penalty. Filling in for Stephen Nicholas, Peterson almost capped off his strong performance by giving Atlanta the lead.

    Instead, the Texans regained possession, and Arian Foster gave Houston the lead after they took 10 minutes off the clock.

    I've already mentioned Julio dropping the final pass, so let's not beat that thought into the ground. There was another touchdown return by James Sanders that was ultimately brought back on one of the most chaotic plays I've ever seen.

    For a moment it looked like the Falcons had an early lead, but again nothing came of it.

They Have a Hard Time Catching the Ball

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    Seriously, what is going on with the receivers in Atlanta? The league's leading team in dropped passes lived up to their title again this week.

    Matt Ryan wasn't exactly on point with every pass, but many of them could have and should have been caught. Julio Jones, Roddy White and even Tony Gonzalez all dropped at least a pass or two. Even on the final play of the game, Jones dropped a potential game-tying touchdown. 

    If they want to stay in playoff contention, they have to drastically improve in this facet of their game. Dropped passes kill momentum and make it hard to get anything going offensively at times.

Matt Ryan Still Needs Improvement on the Deep Ball

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    This is probably going to be talked about after every game he plays, but Matt Ryan still continues to give critics more to point out. He had a tough time completing passes on the deep routes again on Sunday.

    The first drive of the game had two plays where Jones and White were open on a vertical route, and Ryan actually overthrew each of them. He has the arm strength to get it there, but his accuracy throwing deep is unnerving at times. 

    His best deep ball came at the end of the game, when he was forced to throw a Hail Mary to Jones. Of course this time Ryan was on the money, but what happened? Another dropped pass...it was tough to watch for Falcons' fans.

The Texans Have Serious Injury Issues

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    Does anyone know if Reliant Stadium was built on an ancient Indian burial ground? It would not surprise me if it was, because the Texans have been plagued all year by the injury bug.

    They were already playing with their third-string QB, and to make matters worse, their star receiver, Andre Johnson, went down again with another hamstring injury. The Pro Bowl wideout missed a good amount of time earlier in the season with a hamstring issue, so this doesn't bode well for the Texans going forward.

    Their punter, Brett Hartmann was carted to the locker room late in the game, and cornerback Jason Allen left with an injury right after. Brian Cushing was also injured, but he managed to make his way back on the field.

    They manage to keep winning through all the adversity, but much more can this team take?

They Have Some Issues Playing on the Road

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    The Falcons are now 3-3 on the road this season, and two of those wins were against Seattle and Indianapolis. The Houston crowd did not make it easy for Matt Ryan and the offense to operate this afternoon.

    Ryan loves to change things up at the line of scrimmage, and it was clear that the noise interfered in a big way. At one point, Julio Jones couldn't hear what Ryan was saying, and they were forced to call a time out. 

    They did play well at Ford Field, so we know this team is capable of winning in a loud environment. But, they took the crowd out of that game. We'll see how they fare on the road at Carolina next weekend.