On Saturday, Penn State lost a game when IT scored an ill-advised touchdown. On Sunday, Falcons -- the Falcons! -- did the same thing.
Atlanta has put on a clinic this year in creative losing, this time dropping a 23-22 decision to visiting Detroit.
The Falcons are the Phillies bullpen, except in helmets and shoulder pads. On Sunday, they dropped to 1-6 when they allowed the Lions to march down the field following Todd Gurley’s accidental 10-yard touchdown run with 64 seconds left.
Had Gurley fallen down before reaching the end zone, the Falcons would have been able to milk the clock for a game-ending chip-shot field goal. But given the way Atlanta’s luck has gone this season, kicker Younghoe Koo probably would have missed it.
“I was mad as hell,” Gurley said. “I was trying not to [score], but my momentum took me in. ... It’s kind of crazy. It’s one of those unfortunate situations. I’ve been in about six or seven of those situations and always got down.”
Gurley’s gaffe wasn’t as egregious as that of Penn State’s Devyn Ford, whose score Saturday allowed Indiana a chance to miraculously rally and eventually upset the Lions in overtime. Gurley, who executed a similar fall-before-the-score play in 2018 while with the Rams, simply couldn’t contain his momentum and fell just over the goal line. It was so bizarre that Detroit’s defenders were celebrating his touchdown. They knew they had just been given CPR.
What Gurley and Ford have in common is that while their scores have become memorable for the wrong reasons, their defenses let them down big time. In Gurley’s case, Atlanta’s allowed the Lions to drive 75 yards in the final minute without any timeouts.
Atlanta fired its coach (Dan Quinn) and GM (Thomas Dimitroff) after an 0-5 start that included losses to Dallas, when they were up 15 with five minutes left in Week 2. The next game, the Falcons gagged a 16-point lead with seven minutes left.
What made their latest loss hurt even more is that Detroit has a similar reputation of collapsing more dramatically than a soccer player who was brushed by an opponent.
“My job is just [to go] down,” Gurley said. “I’m taking all the responsibility.”
“To me, football is about letters, not numbers — you know: ‘W’ and ‘L.’”
-- Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow after throwing for 406 yards and three touchdowns as Cincinnati fell to Cleveland.
“I’m frustrated. I’m angry. It sucks. I don’t know what else I’m supposed to feel.”
-- Houston’s J.J. Watt after the Texans fell to 1-6.
“You think about the pain, because that hurt us to watch.”
-- CBS analyst James Lofton after Chargers tight end Virgil Green gruesomely rolled his ankle.