Atlanta Falcons’ Tony Gonzalez (88) makes a catch before being brought down by Seattle Seahawks’ Kam Chancellor (31) during Sunday’s game at the Georgia Dome. (Photo: Jason Braverman)
Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez can’t wake up from this nightmare.
He didn’t come out retirement to finish up his stellar 17-year career playing out the string on a 2-7 team that’s headed nowhere.
The Falcons have been outscored 84-33 in the last three losses. Their once-promising season is circling the drain.
“They got us,” Gonzalez said of the 33-10 pasting by the Seattle Seahawks. “They got us in every phase of the game it seems like. Defensively they came out and they stopped us.
“Offensively, they kind of imposed their will on us with the running game. Special teams they got after us. It just wasn’t a very good day for us, as Falcons.”
The Falcons next face Tampa Bay, one of the teams they have beaten this season.
“So, we got to go back to the drawing board,” Gonzalez said. “We’re not going to give up, that’s never the case with us. That’s not the attitude we bring to the table.”
The Falcons, who have been hit hard by the injury bug, are probing for answers on both sides of the ball. They knew Seattle was out for revenge. The Falcons defeated the Seahawks 30-28 in the playoffs last season.
“We had a good week of practice,” Gonzalez said. “They just came out and they played better. I don’t think there’s any excuse that I can come up with; they just outplayed us in every phase of the game, and that’s what happened, wasn’t even close.”
With Gonzalez set to retire, the Falcons will start to play more of their younger players as they must start rebuilding for the future. Gonzalez believes that all of the players must remain accountable for them to salvage some respect this season.
“That’s what you got to do,” Gonzalez said. “It serves no one when you go out there and start pointing fingers. It’s important that you stick together as a team, don’t start playing the blame game because I’ve seen it happen before. That’s not good for a team.”
After facing Tampa Bay, the Falcons will face NFC South leader New Orleans in a Thursday night game before playing Buffalo in Toronto and at Green Bay.
“We still have seven games left, so it’s important that we regroup, understand that we have a long season and make sure we go out there and don’t play like that ever again, not this year,” Gonzalez said.
The Falcons, once considered Super Bowl contenders, have lowered their expectations.
“We can’t worry about the playoff picture,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “The only thing we can worry about is the next day, tomorrow. We have to go day-by-day and get this thing turned around.”
Smith believes the team still has enough talent.
“We’re not playing the type of football that we’re capable of playing across the board,” Smith said. “We’re not coaching well enough; we’re not putting guys in situations to make plays. When guys have opportunities to make plays, they’re not making them. That is why we are not getting the outcomes that we want as a team.”
• The 33-10 loss to Seattle signaled the end of the Falcons’ dominance at home. They have defended the Dome under coach Mike Smith and rarely have been blown out. The Falcons are now 35-10 at home under Smith.
The 23-point beating was the largest margin of defeat in a home loss with Matt Ryan as the starting quarterback. Philadelphia pounded the Falcons 34-3 at the Dome with Chris Redman at the controls.
• After the game, Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman hunted down Gonzalez and the two traded jerseys at midfield.
“That’s what happens when you’re an old guy and they know it’s your last year,” Gonzalez said. “He said, ‘I’m probably not going to see you for a while.’ He’s such a good player. He’s on his way. I’m glad I got his jersey.”
• Falcons safety William Moore is likely to receive his fourth fine of the season.
He was called for a personal foul on a helmet-to-helmet hit against Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate in the first quarter.