Falcons continue to surrender big plays

September, 30, 2013
9/30/13
12:25
PM ET
ATLANTA -- There was no long, drawn out explanation as to why the Falcons gave up a 47-yard touchdown run to the Patriots’ LeGarrette Blount in the fourth quarter Sunday night.

Safety William Moore had a simple response to what happened.

"Everybody’s got a responsibility on the field,’’ Moore said. "You’ve got a gap to be in, and a responsibility. If one person misses their gap, it’s off to the races. And that’s what happened on that one. We didn’t execute that play.’’

[+] EnlargeLeGarrette Blount
Dale Zanine/USA TODAY SportsLeGarrette Blount's 47-yard TD run on Sunday night added to the frustrations of the Atlanta defense.
The defense is sure to be scrutinized even more this week following some missteps against the Patriots. The Falcons surrendered three plays of 40-plus yards to Tom Brady and the Patriots -- four if you count the 41-yard pickup that came as a result of Brady’s 26-yard pass play to Kenbrell Thompkins on third-and-19 coupled with a 15-yard hit-to-head penalty tacked on against Moore.

The 1-3 Falcons, who were 13-3 last season, have surrendered big plays in every game this season. In a season-opening loss against the Saints, it was Drew Brees’ 67-yard, catch-and-run hookup with receiver Kenny Stills. Then against the Rams, the Falcons allowed Sam Bradford to find Chris Givens for a 47-yard pickup.

In Miami, the Falcons watched Dolphins running back Lamar Miller break off a 49-yard run that set up a touchdown.

Then Sunday night, Blount’s run really helped the Patriots seize the momentum. It appeared linebacker Akeem Dent had the best chance of stopping Blount up the middle before Blount bounced it outside and outran the defense.

"We didn’t play as sound as we wanted to and that we have in the past weeks against the run,’’ safety Thomas DeCoud said. "That’s one thing that’s going to get corrected, and we’ll get back to our old ways.’’

The Falcons actually showed flashes on defense in the final minutes when they needed a big stop. By then, it was too late.

So what can the Falcons do to rectify their defensive problems? The return of linebacker Sean Weatherspoon would help, but Weatherspoon will be sidelined until at least Week 11 with a foot injury. And now fellow linebackers Dent (ankle) and Paul Worrilow (knee) are a banged up, too.

Not to mention cornerback Asante Samuel sat out Sunday with a thigh injury, intensifying the pressure on rookie cornerbacks Marcus Trufant and Robert Alford.

In other words, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has a lot of challenges ahead. We’ll see how Nolan and the defense respond.

Vaughn McClure

ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter

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