Halftime notes: Falcons-Bills
December, 1, 2013
By Vaughn McClure | ESPN.com
TORONTO -- Here are a couple thought as the Atlanta Falcons are tied with the Buffalo Bills, 17-17, Sunday at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.
- The Falcons offensive line continues to falter. It allowed quarterback Matt Ryan to get sacked on third-and-2 from the Buffalo 42-yard line on the Falcons' very first drive. Ryan also got sacked on a third-and-9 play in his own territory when left tackle Lamar Holmes and left guard Justin Blalock couldn't combine to stop the Bills' stunt. The offensive line struggles led to another change as undrafted rookie Ryan Schraeder replaced Jeremy Trueblood at right tackle for a series. Ryan was sacked three times in the first half.
- Antone Smith deserves more touches. The unheralded running back continues to make big plays when he touches the ball. The Falcons ran him on a sweep to the left and he followed his blocks and darted through the hole for a 38-yard touchdown run. And Smith started the game gaining 40 yards on a kickoff return after taking a reverse from Jacquizz Rodgers. Remember, Smith had a 50-yard touchdown run at Tampa Bay. After Sunday's 38-yarder, Smith had five carries for 145 yards and two touchdowns on the season.
- Speaking of running backs, Steven Jackson has looked pretty good, too. Jackson got the Falcons on the board with a 27-yard touchdown run. He seems to be running with more authority after being hampered by a hamstring injury earlier in the season. Maybe he feels Smith running from behind, although it's doubtful the Falcons will cut Jackson's carries for Smith.
- The Falcons defense played well in the second quarter, but it still gave up an explosive play. A 77-yard run by C.J. Spiller set up the Bills' first touchdown on E.J. Manuel's 1-yard touchdown run. If the Falcons want to win this game, they have to contain the Bills' running backs and not surrender big plays.