Patriots at Falcons score: New England beat Matt Ryan, empty Atlanta for fifth consecutive win

The New England Patriots have now won five consecutive games after taking down the Hawks in Atlanta 25-0. Mac Jones and the Patriots offense built their lead fairly early in this matchup, scoring 13 points over their first three possession to start the game. New England’s only offensive touchdown of the night came courtesy of a 19-yard pass to Jones ’Nelson Agholor. And as the Patriots ’offense built a fairly solid cushion, Bill Belichick’s defense thrashed the Hawks from the jump.

Matt Ryan had little time to throw the football whenever he fell back to pass and was sacked three times in the first half (four total sacks for the game). Even when Atlanta was in a position to put points on the board, poor execution plagued them. The biggest example of this came on the Falcons third drive of the day. They were able to bring the football up to the New England 14-yard line, however, a 13-yard sack and a subsequent illegal formation penalty on a field goal attempt led to a missed 50-yard field goal by Younghoe Koo. The second half was not much better for the Hawks as Ryan was picked on back-to-back drives in the fourth quarter that effectively eliminated any possibility of a late rally (or backdoor).

Jones finished his day completing 22 of 26 for 207 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The back field totaled 138 yards rushing with Rhamondre Stevenson (69 yards) and Damien Harris (56) leading the way. Meanwhile, Ryan completed 19 of 28 for 153 yards and two interceptions.

For more on how this game developed, take a look at our prescriptions below.

Why the Patriots won

The Patriots ’defense continues to be the backbone of this winning streak and its improved play over the past month and further raised the ceiling for this team exponentially. They were able to apply pressure on Ryan early and often, and anyway. New England pressed Ryan on the outside with Matthew Judon and Kyle Van Noy both coming with sacks along with up the middle of the line with tackle Davon Godchaux. In all, Ryan was fired four times during the night and was hit a total of 12 times.

Those bags also come in a timely manner. As we noted in the introduction, one of Atlanta’s biggest mistakes occurred on that botched red zone execution in the second quarter. On a third-and-1 from the Patriots 14, Kyle Van Noy was able to fire Ryan for a 13-yard loss, which ultimately sparked a meltdown that resulted in zero points. In the second half, that pressure then translated into turnovers as New England’s defense ended with four straight interceptions to end the game. Two were from Ryan while the final two picks came off backups Josh Rosen and Feleipe Franks.

Offensively, the Patriots continued to be effective out of the gate. Jones spread the ball early and completed 14 of his 15 first-half throws for 136 yards and a touchdown as New England built a 13-0 lead. In all, Jones completed pitches to nine different Patriots pass catchers. Meanwhile, Damien Harris was the catalyst on the only touchdown of the evening’s offense as he was responsible for 43 of the team’s 76 yards on the winning drive.

Why the Falcons lost

Atlanta looked like an under .500 team for most of Thursday’s contest. As we’ve touched on before, the Falcons ’offensive line really had trouble keeping Ryan straight for most of this contest, especially at the handling locations because the pressure seemed to constantly come from both sides. With Cordarrelle Patterson out for that game, the backfield struggled hard, counting just 40 yards for the game on 2.5 yards per carry. The defense mostly did its job as it held New England to manageable 13 points for most of this game, but the offense simply could not continue its end of the bargain.

While the Hawks were overwhelmed for most of this game, they also couldn’t get out of their own way at times. The issues leading up to Koo’s missed 50-yard field goal were a prime example, but there were a few other cases where Atlanta shot themselves in the foot. After an interception by AJ Terrell, the club had some questionable game call on their resulting possession that produced zero points (more on that sequence below) and there were a few game calls that just didn’t make sense.

Atlanta also found themselves in a number of third-and-long situations and could only convert two of their 11 third-bottom situations for the game. When your 11 total rides consist of five strokes and four interceptions, you won’t win many games.

Turning point

Although it may not have felt that way at times, the Hawks have been technically in this game for most of the contest. There was a brief sign of life after Terrell was able to pick Jones on a rare bad decision by the rookie as the Hawks got the ball on their own 48-yard line with the score just 13-0. Atlanta was able to move the ball deep into Patriots territory and up to the New England 16-yard line. It was at this point where a number of questionable games were called by head coach Arthur Smith.

On a third-and-1, Ryan gave the ball away to Keith Smith, who would travel for no win. Then, as the Hawks chose to go for it on a quarter-and-1, they again gave the ball away, this time to Qadree Ollison, who would turn in the same result as Smith and force a turnover on downs. While going with the ground play is a logical call, it would apparently make more sense to have Ryan sneak the ball forward.

That was the Falcons ’last real shot to make it a ball game and they couldn’t get over the hump for that extra yard.

Game of the game

Ryan’s first interception to Devin McCourty was a good view of how it went all night. The Falcons quarterback barely set up his feet after his dropback and immediately had two Patriots defenders on his grid. This forced him to raise a pass to the right side of the field and McCourty was able to sprint to the sideline to make the catch. The throw was destined for rookie tight end Kyle Pitts, but he seemed to slow down on the route if he fought with safety Kyle Dugger from the line of scrimmage. That’s as solid of a complementary football as you’ll find from New England with the pass course helping the secondary create a turnover.

Meanwhile, an honorable mention for playing the game was a nice pass from Ryan to Mike Davis early in this matchup where the quarterback had to fit the football in a tight window over Judon’s helmet. While that game or drive didn’t result in points, it was probably the game’s best throw.

What follows

From here, the Patriots will return to Foxborough and prepare as host to the Tennessee Titans in Week 12. Meanwhile, the Hawks will go on the road to face the Jaguars in Jacksonville.

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