Patriots' defense helps Falcons plummet to historic levels


The Atlanta Falcons have had more memorable, heartbreaking losses against the New England Patriots.

That didn't mean Thursday night's 25-0 setback on Thursday Night Football won't leave a mark, though, as New England's defense in particular helped Atlanta sink to some historic levels.

For starters, the shutout loss for the Falcons was their first at home since 1988, a 33-0 blanking at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams.

For context, even the Patriots have suffered a shutout at home somewhat recently. In 2016, they lost in Week 4 to the Buffalo Bills, 16-0, at Gillette Stadium ... with the caveat that third-string rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett was starting with an injured thumb.

Partial lunar eclipse after Pats-Falcons to last fitting amount of time

The outcome of Thursday's game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium was never really in doubt for the Patriots, but it wasn't until the fourth quarter when Atlanta plummeted to a yet another new low.

The Falcons became just the third team in the 21st century to have three different quarterbacks throw an interception, joining the 2009 Houston Texans and 2000 San Diego Chargers, each team equipped with some immortal names of their own.

Matt Ryan -- who actually played reasonably well in his team's Super Bowl LI loss against the Patriots -- posted a 51.7 passer rating against New England this time around, the 10th-worst of his career in 215 regular season starts.

Ryan threw picks to Devin McCourty and J.C. Jackson before being replaced by Josh Rosen, who completed as many passes to the Patriots as he did to his own team; Rosen was picked off by Kyle Van Noy, who returned it to the end zone for his first career pick-six.


The lone pass attempt of the night for Feleipe Franks, who relieved Rosen, wound up in the hands of Adrian Phillips, completing the trifecta of tragedy for Falcons passers.

Add it all up and the Patriots have seemingly landed back on the path to respectability before the Falcons, who continue to flounder aimlessly since surrendering a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl LI nearly five years ago.