D. Orlando Ledbetter: Like Bryant's miss, Falcons' season has gone wide leftOctober 15, 2019 9:46am

Oct. 14-- GLENDALE, ARIZ.-Wide left.

The missed extra point kick by the normally dependable Matt Bryant is a symbol of how the Falcons, who are now 1-5, have been woefully off the mark for much of the 2019 season.

With the kick, the Falcons lost to the Cardinals 34-33 after scrambling back from a 17-point second-half deficit.

If Bryant makes the kick Sunday, perhaps the defense would have kept the Cardinals out of field goal range with 1:53 to play and forced overtime.

Who knows?

Nothing has gone according to the Falcons' plan this year, which makes Bryant's miss not all that surprising.

"I wish we were 6-0," Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley said. "It's not great. Right now, it's not good at all."

Before the Falcons start playing for pride, they'll face the Los Angeles Rams, the reigning NFC champs on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Here are five things we learned from the loss to the Cardinals:

1. The missed kick. Bryant had made his last 24 extra point attempts going back to a miss at Green Bay on Dec. 9, 2018. He made 33 of 35 last season.

"To miss that kick is no good for anybody," Bryant said. "We'd kind of dug ourselves a hole, and you don't want to end it like that. What the team did to come back from where we were, it was just disappointing."

Bryant said he just missed his target area.

"I just hit it too high on the ball," Bryant said. "That's why it goes left like that. I missed it."

Quarterback Matt Ryan said the game shouldn't have come down to the kick.

"Physical stuff, that happens," Ryan said. "These kind of games never come down to one play. Everybody in our locker room can look at four or five different things that they did throughout the game that they could have done better that would have been in a different situation at the end of the game. He's been so consistent for us."

The team tried to lift Bryant's spirits.

"Just a pat on the back and tell him that we've got him," Ryan said.

2. Falcons don't have a pass rush: Arizona's fine rookie quarterback Kyler Murray operated in a clean pocket against the Falcons, who did not have a sack or a even a quarterback hit on 37 dropbacks.

The elusive Murray was chased out of the pocket a couple of times, but the Falcons couldn't get their hands on him.

With Murray having time to find his receivers, he completed 27 passes for 340 yards and three touchdowns.

"Find ways to finish," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. "So, when you chase him out of the pocket, how do you trap him in and keep him in there? I wasn't displeased with the guys effort and energy to get going, but you've got moments to keep him in and keep him remaining a passer, you've got to be able to do that."

The Falcons entered the game with just five sacks, which was tied for last in the league with Denver and Miami. The Broncos had seven sacks in their win over Tennessee to move up to 12. The Dolphins didn't get a sack in their loss to the Redskins.

With no real pressure, The Cardinals converted on 7-of-13 third down situations (54%) and went for it on a fourth-and-2 on their opening drive of the third quarter in a show of disrespect to the Falcons' defense.

They converted on a 6-yard pass to Charles Clay.

After giving up scores on the Cardinals' first five possessions, the Falcons were able to manage three stops.

"We were just able to get stops in the second half versus the first half," defensive tackle Grady Jarrett said. "Just executed better."

3. Opening drive: For the first time this season the Falcons scored a touchdown on their opening drive.

The Falcons made a 50-yard field goal against the Eagles for its only other opening drive score of the season.

The Falcons won the toss and elected to take the ball. Ryan drove the ball 80 yards over 10 plays, which ended with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Ridley.

"Dan tells me before every game, "hey, here's what we're going to do if we win the toss," and today it was if we win the toss we're going to take the ball," Ryan said.

The Falcons mixed in five runs with five passes during the drive.

"We did a nice job of overcoming things on that first drive and to come away with seven was a nice way to start the football game," Ryan said. "We could have been more consistent throughout the first half. But it was a good start."

4. First half blues continued: The Falcons, down 20-10, trailed by double digits at the half for the fourth time this season.

Against Minnesota (21-0), Colts (20-3) and Titans (24-3) they also fell behind early and couldn't pull out wins. The Falcons led the Eagles 10-6 at halftime and the Texans 17-16.

The Cardinals would take a 17 point lead after scoring a touchdown on their opening drive of the second half.

The Falcons ripped off 17-unanswered points and had the ball with a chance to take the lead, but were foiled on a third-and-10 sack by Cardinals outside linebacker Chandler Jones.

"We just have to keep working and keep letting that bond build," said wide receiver Julio Jones, who had eight catches for 108 yards. "That's it. We're all we got and we're all we need. We just have to find a way."

5. Freeman shined: Falcons running back Devonta Freeman had 22 touches for 118 yards and two touchdown receptions.

It was his most productive game of the season.

"I think it's huge," Ryan said of Freeman's game. "I tell our guys all the time and we have a number of talented guys, the ball is going to find different guys different weeks. You have to stay ready for when your opportunity comes.

"Our guys are incredibly unselfish and do a great job with that. Free is a guy that for the entire time that he's been here, when his number has been called, he's always done a great job for us. I thought he did a great job against the Cardinals."

___

(c)2019 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)

Visit The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.) at www.ajc.com

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