ATLANTA - Another crucial missed opportunity for the Atlanta Falcons left even more heat on coach Dan Quinn.
Matt Ryan says the blame for the latest loss should be on him, not the coach. Ryan especially bemoaned his poor throw on a potential tying drive in the fourth quarter that was intercepted by Carolina safety Juston Burris in the Panthers’ 23-16 win on Sunday.
The loss left the Falcons 0-5 for the first time since 1997.
Quinn, coming off back-to-back 7-9 finishes, needed to take Atlanta back to the playoffs this season. Five consecutive losses make a third straight losing season more difficult to avoid — and make it all the less likely Quinn remains in charge.
With speculation again swirling about Quinn’s status, the team made no change on Sunday.
Ryan spoke to the team after the game and tried to put the loss on his shoulders.
“I just let them know we each have to take responsibility for what’s going on,” Ryan said. “I certainly accept the responsibility. ... We had a chance late in the game and I didn’t pull my weight. We all need collectively to take a look in the mirror and that’s what I’m going to do.”
The Panthers led 20-13 in the fourth quarter when Ryan moved the offense to a third-down play at the Carolina 5.
Ryan tried to pass to Russell Gage at the back on the end zone. Gage didn’t create separation from Burris. Ryan threw behind the receiver, making it too easy for Burris to step in for the interception.
Instead of throwing the ball high so only Gage could have had a chance to make the catch, Ryan’s poor throw crushed the Falcons’ opportunity to tie the game.
It was only Ryan’s third interception of the season, but it was devastating to his team’s hopes of ending its losing streak.
Quinn said the pass was “definitely one Matt would like to have back.”
“I know he can’t throw that one and have any other outcome than incomplete or Russ,” Quinn said.
Ryan also was critical of his missed pass to tight end Hayden Hurst earlier in the fourth quarter. That pass sailed too high in the end zone, leading to a field goal.
The Panthers took advantage of the turnover with a 14-play drive capped by Joey Slye’s 22-yard field goal that stretched the lead to 10 points.
Following the game, there were many questions about Quinn’s future. Quinn is 43-42 in six seasons, including 14-23 the last three years.
“His messaging has been on point,” Ryan said. “Our play has not. I know I’d like to play better than I did today. ... Late in the game you’ve got to find a way to punch it in.”
When asked if he believes his message is still getting through to his team, Quinn said “100 percent I do.”
Asked if he would understand if Falcons owner Arthur Blank decides a change is necessary, Quinn said “Honestly, it’s the furthest thing from my mind.”
Added Quinn: “More than anything we’ve got to be able to leave our mark on the win.” He said that included making the plays on the field and making good coaching decisions.
Quinn said he planned no changes on his staff, including with assignments.
“We’re going to collectively get fixed what we need to,” Quinn said, adding, “it’s all hands on deck to help.” He said there was “no need in placing blame” with one assistant.
If the Falcons make a coaching change, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter or defensive coordinator Raheem Morris could be considered as candidates to take over on an interim basis.
Asked if he thinks Quinn will be fired, Ryan said “I hope not.
“I think Dan has been nothing but a great head coach since he’s been here. We just haven’t done a good enough job as a team and as players. It’s a hard business for sure, but we all love what Dan has done for this team. We’ve got to do a better job as players.”
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