ATLANTA — Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan hasn’t felt much like an NFL MVP over the past two weeks.
He looked uncharacteristically sluggish in Sunday’s 23-17 loss to Buffalo, throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.
Ryan was at a disadvantage in the second half with starting receivers Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu sidelined by injuries earlier in the game, but even those setbacks weren’t enough for him to explain what went wrong.
“I’ve certainly made a ton of mistakes throughout my career myself,” Ryan said. “It’s disappointing. We’re better than that. I’m better than that from an offensive standpoint in terms of taking care of the ball.”
Of his three picks last week, Ryan was entirely responsible for just one of them, and the impact was less with the Falcons winning at Detroit.
Against Buffalo, the four-time Pro Bowl selection threw a ball behind receiver Nick Williams that was intercepted with 3:27 remaining. Stephen Hauschka’s 56-yard field goal put the Bills up six points just four plays later, but the third quarter was worse.
Ryan lost a fumble on a sack that Tre’Davious White returned for a touchdown. He threw a long jump ball that 5-foot-8 Taylor Gabriel lost to safety Micah Hyde, who’s 4 inches taller, at the Buffalo 12.
Ryan already has five picks this season. He had just seven last season while being honored as the league MVP and leading Atlanta to the Super Bowl.
“It’s just difficult to overcome a three-turnover deficit,” he said. “We did it last week, but it was a little too much to overcome today.”
GRIND THEM DOWN
Speaking at the team meeting Saturday night, Buffalo coach Sean McDermott challenged the offensive line to do a better job at sustaining drives. The Bills had averaged just 72 yards rushing in the past two games.
“We talked about it and we were a little (bothered) about that,” Richie Incognito said. “We knew we had to take over this game, so it’s exciting, man.”
Buffalo wore down the Atlanta defense with a 19-play, 82-yard drive that consumed 11:20 and ended early in the fourth quarter. The Bills took a 17-10 lead on Hauschka’s 24-yard field goal.
“I honestly didn’t know it was that long of a drive, man,” Incognito said. “You have to dig deep on those.”
GOOD TIMING FOR BYE
The ailing Falcons will make the most of needed time off over the next week.
Jones, their two-time All-Pro receiver, left the game late in the second quarter with a hip flexor and did not return. He was limited in practice last week with a back injury.
Sanu was sidelined in the third quarter by a hamstring injury and didn’t return.
Atlanta began the day without four starters — defensive end Vic Beasley (hamstring), last year’s NFL sacks leader, right tackle Ryan Schraeder (concussion), free safety Ricardo Allen (concussion) and defensive end Courtney Upshaw (ankle).
The Falcons’ next game is in two weeks at home against Miami.
TAKE YOUR TIME
McDermott still had his three timeouts remaining in the game’s final minute. Atlanta had none left, but McDermott decided to use one before the Falcons lined up for a fourth-and-1 at the Buffalo 10.
He wanted to see what formation Atlanta preferred, but he also wanted to remind the players that they were facing nothing new.
“I do not know if there is another team in the league that (practices) situational football as much as we do,” Bills defensive end Eddie Yarbrough said. “It could be a situation from Mars, and chances are Coach McDermott and our team have drilled it. It was definitely just a time to just say, ‘Hey, guys, we’ve done this before. This isn’t our first rodeo. We’ve drilled this a hundred times in practice to see what formation they came out in.’ Then, we had to adjust from there.”
TAKE THE FALL
Falcons left tackle Jake Matthews took the blame for Ryan getting sacked in the third quarter and losing the big fumble.
Matthews was beaten by defensive Jerry Hughes and couldn’t keep the linebacker from reaching his QB.
“I’ve got to run him around the pocket a little more,” Matthews said. “I’ve just to get better. That’s about it.”