Notes from Cocktail Napkins: On the Falcons & Dawgs

Another Big Easy let down for the Falcons and the Dawgs hunker down for a huge win.

Things that had me about to break something Sunday afternoon...

The Falcons only ran the ball 14 times. Steven Jackson is a beast, but how do you feed him the rock and get him in a rhythm without taking away from all the other weapons?

The new look offensive line could not protect Matt Ryan who was sacked 3 times and pressured constantly.

After some initial success from Osi and Babineaux the defensive line couldn't get consistent heat on Brees.

Akeem Dent or any linebacker for that matter can't cover Marques Colston for 25 yards. If that's amoeba defense, throw out the Petri dish!

Rookie Kenny Vaccaro should get popped for at least $25K for that bush league hit on a sliding Matt Ryan.

I thought Thomas DeCoud was awful yesterday. And the Falcons trademark poor tackling reared it's ugly head, with either sacks or tackles for loss slipping through their fingers.

Julio Jones fumble on what looked to be a touchdown drive killed Atlanta. Roddy was little more than a decoy with what we correctly reported as a high ankle sprain last month.

So infuriating to come up short, exactly like last year in The Super Dome, we're like the NFL's version of the Washington Generals taking on the Harlem Globetrotters, the script never changes for us there.

Sean Payton moves to 7-2 against Mike Smith and the Falcons have only won once in The Superdome since 2003.

There were some positives...

Falcons fans knew we were gonna take our lumps with Asante Samuel out and Robert McClain and rookie corners pressed into service, but Desmond Trufant looked like a veteran with some key pass defenses as did Robert Alford who also snatched a pick.

We have some emerging studs in the secondary but we need pass rush and better linebacker play.

The final 2 minutes...

As Sunday's surprisingly low scoring affair was winding down I just could not believe the Falcons were in this all too familiar position again. As the the potential game winning drive began with Matt Ryan hitting Harry Douglas, Quizz, and Tony G for big gains marching right down the field most Falcons fans were saying "lets not score too quickly here". Ryan's 20 yard strike to Harry Douglas gave you the ball at the 7 yard line with with 1:07 remaining as the the ball was snapped on first and goal. There was enough time (and 2 time outs) to run the ball with Steven Jackson, but Dirk Koetter opted for 3 passing plays before the final shot on 4th down was intercepted. After an incomplete pass to Douglas Ryan hit Roddy to the 3 yard line, we used a timeout, coming out of that I would have liked to see Steven Jackson get a crack at it from the 3 yard line.

Archer would say...It's a tough loss, it sure does hurt but all you can do is prepare for Rams, work on what needs to be fixed and hope the Saints lose some games in the division.

And he's right it's a long season but, geez, how many times do we have to keep coming up short to these guys? And are we actually a better team than last year? We've got some new faces on the Falcons but the same issues that have kept this team from getting to The Super Bowl were on display yesterday in New Orleans.

Last week I said that Mark Richt needed better coaches to maximize his team's talents. As many Georgia fans who e-mailed or texted in reminded me it also helps if the student athletes execute on the field. Well the Dawgs sure played some inspired football Saturday in Athens. Expectations of Jadeveon Clowney and the rest of Carolina's mauling defense repeating their performance from a year ago in Columbia had a lot of Georgia fans expecting the worst. Mark Richt said losing to Clemson may have actually helped the Dawgs, He told the AJC's Chip Towers "Losing your first game is not fun at all, especially when it’s your first game and the whole world is watching,”Richt said of the 38-35 road loss to the No. 4-ranked Tigers in Week 1. But I’d have to say it helped us in Game 2. I’d have to say we realized there’s no margin for error. You can’t make certain mistakes and expect to win." Mike Bobo leaned on on Todd Gurley to help take pressure of Aaron Murray who got the protection he need from the line. Aside from Collin Barber's inexplicable lack of concentration where the snap hit him in the face mask on a punt resulting in flip the field for SC they were dialed in mentally.

Richt got back to some of the aggressiveness that made Georgia fans go nuts for him back in 2002. You've got to have some serious huevos to call that onside kick. He did and the Dawgs made the play.

All week long Murray heard he can't win the big game, well I'd say this was a big game what, with the season on the line and all. With big bad Clowney for the most part kept at bay Murray threw for over 300 yards and 4 TDs, throwing to 8 different receivers including Justin Scott-Wesley.

Georgia also cut down the penalties, from 9 for 84 yards against Clemson. The holding penalty on their next to last possession in Death Valley derailed a potential game tying drive, Against the Gamecocks the Dawgs showed poise and were flagged only 5 times for 16 yards.

The Dawgs get a week off then a patty cake then LSU. They will have to play the same kind of game against the Tigers. Smart, aggressive and penalty free. Zach Mettenberger returns to Athens where he was supposed to have been the man having size and a bigger arm than than Aaron Murray. He screwed up down state, then lied to Richt about and now years later he starting to scratch the surface of all that expected talent. You know LSU has the athletes and Jeremy Hill is just one of a gaggle of stud RBs they'll throw at UGA.

If the Dawgs can keep on trucking in the SEC, their one loss to potential ACC champ Clemson wont look bad at all in the BCS picture.