Falcons’ offense is missing in second half of loss

Roddy White says the Falcons’ 10th loss was especially

painful.

Atlanta’s offense disappeared after taking a 21-10 lead at Green

Bay on Sunday. The Falcons were shut out in the second half of the

22-21 loss to the Packers.

It was a disappointing finish after such a strong start. Steven

Jackson had 55 yards rushing and White had five catches as the

Falcons built the first-half lead.

”It’s a game you’ve got to win,” White said.

White said he knew the Falcons couldn’t sit on the lead.

”When I came back in to the locker room, I told everybody we

needed another field goal, another score to win this game,” he

said. ”We knew they were going to make their runs. There’s always

ebbs and flows in games. You know at some point they’re going to

make their run so we had to counter and get a drive together and

score whatever points we could get. Unfortunately, we didn’t do

that.”

The Falcons (3-10) had no first downs in the third quarter and

then were hurt by two fourth-quarter turnovers – a fumble and

interception by quarterback Matt Ryan.

Late dropped passes by Harry Douglas and Tony Gonzalez also were

costly as the Falcons failed in their attempt to drive for a

last-minute field goal.

Coach Mike Smith said the frozen turf at Lambeau Field hardened

after halftime, making traction more difficult, especially for the

running game. Jackson had only 16 yards rushing in the second

half.

The temperature for kickoff was 9 degrees.

”I think that the field got frozen in the second half,” Smith

said Monday. ”I think if you look at the numbers on both sides of

the ball, the running numbers went down in the second half. The

footing was much different in the second half than it was in the

first half.”

Smith said the field was not an excuse for poor execution.

”This group doesn’t give up,” Smith said. ”We’re playing

hard. We’re playing with a lot of energy. We’re just not very

precise in our execution. That’s the thing that’s hurt us the

most.”

The Falcons couldn’t establish their offense when the running

game faltered. Jackson was held to 3 yards on Atlanta’s first snap

of the second half. The possession ended quickly with two

incompletions.

On their second series of the third quarter, the Falcons again

tried to run on first down. This time, Jackson was stopped for only

1 yard, setting the stage for another three-and-out.

”That was a really tough stretch, anytime you string together

consecutive three-and-outs,” offensive guard Justin Blaylock said

Monday. ”That does not give you a chance to win ballgames, no

matter what kind of lead you build up.”

The Falcons managed only 136 yards in the second half and 285

total yards.

The offense had big assists from Atlanta’s defense. One of the

three first-half touchdowns came on a 71-yard interception return

by linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.

William Moore sacked Green Bay quarterback Matt Flynn in the

second quarter, causing a fumble that was recovered by defensive

end Malliciah Goodman at the Packers 13. Ryan took advantage of the

short field with a four-play drive capped by his touchdown pass to

Gonzalez.

It was a rare highlight for the offense.

”It’s disappointing,” Ryan said. ”We jumped out to an early

lead, the defense created some turnovers for us and we capitalized

on it, but we weren’t able to get it done offensively in the second

half. We had chances, we moved the ball in a couple different

situations, but stalled out when we got into scoring situations. We

have to be better than that.”

The architect of the Atlanta offense could soon be leaving.

Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has interviewed for the Boise

State head coach position.

Koetter, a native of Pocatello, Idaho, was Boise State’s coach

from 1998-2000.

”I know he has ties and was the coach there before,” Blaylock

said. ”I love the guy and wish him the best, no matter what

happens. I hope it’s here.”

NOTES: Safety Thomas DeCoud left the game with a concussion late

in the first quarter and must clear the NFL’s concussion protocol

before he can be cleared for Sunday’s game against the Redskins.

… Smith said running back Antone Smith’s knee injury is not

believed to be serious and is expected to return to practice this

week.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org