NFL

Patriots pound Falcons, playing for keeps in AFC

The New England Patriots are 7-4 after beating the Atlanta Falcons for their fifth straight win. The Pats defense held the Falcons to 165 total yards.

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Patriots pound Falcons, playing for keeps in AFC
Kevin C. Cox AFP

The New England Patriots pitched a shut out against the Atlanta Falcons to extend their win streak to five games. The Pats defense suffocated the Falcons on their way to their 25-0 victory in Mercedes Benz Stadium.

Jones and the Pats are rolling

The Patriots are quickly becoming one of the hottest teams in the league. They have surged up the AFC East, and are showing that they are here to stay. They have turned a 2-4 start around and sit at 7-4 after their win on Thursday night.

Mac Jones is without question enjoying the best season of any of the five quarterbacks taken in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft. He continues to wow with his precision passing and excellent decision making.

Jones is showing maturity beyond his years, and the Patriots defense continues to constrict opposing offenses. In the last three games, New England has allowed a grand total of 13 points. They gave up six against the Carolina Panthers before conceding just seven against the Cleveland Browns last week.

Ryan was under constant attack by Pats D line

While the Patriots defense played flawless football, the Falcons didn’t do themselves any favors. At one point in the third quarter they had more penalties than they did first downs. By the end of the game that ratio improved, but not by much, getting 11 first downs and committing nine penalties.

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan was constantly bombarded by the Patriots pass rushers who sacked the 14 year veteran four times and pressured him all night.

Nick Folk started the scoring in the opening quarter when he banged home his first of four field goals on the night. A second quarter touchdown on Nelson Agholor’s 19 yard reception broke the lead open early in the second quarter, and a field goal right before the halftime break gave the defense plenty of cushion to close out the game.

Terrell interception the moment of hope for Atlanta

It looked for a moment the Falcons finally got their break when A.J. Terrell picked off Mac Jones, and returned it to midfield giving Atlanta the best field position of their night. At that point in the game it was still 13-0 and even though the they hadn’t moved the ball much the home side were still in the game.

Matt Ryan drove the Falcons down to the New England 16 yard line, but the Patriots came up with a stop on 4th and 1 to deflated the the fans at Mercedes Benz Stadium. The final four possessions after the unsuccessful fourth down conversion ended in four consecutive interceptions. Matt Ryan was picked twice and was pulled before anymore damage was done. Soon after, Josh Rosen had his interception taken to the house. He was benched right after, and Feleipe Franks threw a pick of his own end the game.

Two teams going in different directions

Atlanta ended the night with a total of 165 yards of offense. While the Falcons have scored just three points in the last two weeks, the Patriots have not allowed a single point in the last 19 defensive possessions.

Mac Jones was nearly perfect, hitting 22 of 26 passes and throwing for a modest 174 yards, with one touchdown and one pick. The ground game rushed for 134 yards and Pats kicker Nick Folk went 4/4 on the night.

For the time being the Patriots have the most wins in the AFC East. It remains to be seen what the Buffalo Bills do agains the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, but the way the Pats are playing it looks like Buffalo are going to have a much tougher time winning the division than many thought.

The Falcons drop to 4-6, and are still in the playoff picture, but they need to sort out their offensive struggles before they drop to far behind the rest of the pack.