Which team had the worst week: Falcons, Bulldogs, or Braves?
Talk about a tough choice.
Watching the Falcons’ 30-12 debacle certainly proved unbearable. Until Sunday, who could conceive the possibility of the Bears scoring 30 points on anyone, let alone a team that won 13 games a year ago?
The Falcons’ new and improved secondary let Jay Cutler channel John Elway. Against a scheme so porous as to define definition (were they playing man-to-man? zone? tag?) Cutler completed 22-of-32 passes for 312 yards.
John Abraham aside, did any Falcons defenders dress for the game? They let the Bears beat them at their own game. Chicago held the ball for over 18 minutes of the first half. It would have been more, but Sean Weatherspoon tried to bump Matt Forte out of bounds from the hash mark, assisting on a 56-yard touchdown run.
Much ballyhooed was the Falcons’ draft day acquisition of Julio Jones to stretch defenses. So, naturally, they devised a game plan which enabled Matt Ryan to complete 13-of-16 passes in the first half, for all of 103 yards.
That’s eight yards per completion.
Not until the third quarter, when things had spiraled well out of control, did Jones receive a lengthy pass.
You know, we didn’t think much of it when the Falcons failed to win a preseason game. We couldn’t imagine, with all the brave talk of tossing it aside, that the playoff debacle against Green Bay still lingered.
Sunday against the Bears, the Falcons were every bit as awful as they were against the Packers in January. Sure makes you wonder.
In Athens Saturday, the Bulldogs discovered that they still have a penchant for making big plays in a bad way.
Quarterback Aaron Murray had a hand in scoring 66 points. That result would cause Fielding Yost to burst into a grin, except for the fact that 21 of them were tallied for South Carolina.
Even though the game took an eternity to play, it’s still hard to fathom that Murray had time to fumble a ball returned for a touchdown, hurl an interception returned for a touchdown, and botch a simple handoff, which was returned to the five-yard-line, from where a touchdown shortly ensued.
A year after scoring its fewest points against Carolina since 1904, Georgia surrendered the most points it ever has to the Gamecocks. The series began in 1894.
Not content with that, Georgia made defensive end Melvin Ingram the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week.
Ingram, rated Carolina’s third best defensive lineman, scored after scooping up Murray’s fumble with three minutes left. He then recovered Georgia’s onside kick with two minutes left.
But that was mere icing. Two minutes before the half, he lumbered 68 yards on a fake punt. He took a direct snap, motored around the left end, hurdled Brandon Boyken, and steamrolled into the end zone.
Ingram stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 267 pounds.
"Give Melvin Ingram credit for some huge plays," coach Steve Spurrier told The Daily Gamecock. "A defensive tackle scoring two touchdowns! That fake punt — gee, probably somebody’s gonna ask how come he hasn’t been playing tailback the last couple of years."
So that’s how things stand for Georgia. The Dogs make a star out of a player whose head ball coach doesn’t even know what position he plays.
Meanwhile, the Braves spent the week botching their waltz into the playoffs. The team that hadn’t been swept in a three game series all season managed to get swept twice in a single week.
True, they ran into some hot teams in the Phillies and Cardinals, and the Dodgers before them. Even the Marlins rolled into Atlanta Monday having won six of eight. But you’re not going to face the Cubs or Mets in the playoffs, are you?
True, scheduling and injuries forced the Braves to trot out four rookie pitchers in a row last week. But that doesn’t explain staff ace Tim Hudson allowing four runs in six innings in each of his two starts.
Nor does it explain staff deadweight Derek Lowe allowing four runs in six innings Saturday, and seven runs (five earned) in five innings Monday in Philadelphia, getting the week off to a rollicking start.
Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel each blew a game, but it’s hard to criticize when they’ve been perfect since June.
It’s easy to criticize when Martin Prado and Brian McCann find themselves in epic slumps. They join Alex Gonzalez and Jason Heyward (season-long) and Dan Uggla (first half) as hitters who have failed dramatically under the guidance of alleged hitting instructor Larry Parrish.
The Braves certainly had the longest week. But the worst? That’s open for debate.