ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Falcons' locker room was dead silent late Sunday afternoon, and one could feel the anger coming from quarterback Matt Ryan's face as he got dressed to meet the media.
Naturally, Ryan was disappointed with his team's 23-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills that knocked the now 3-1 Falcons from the ranks of the undefeated. But Ryan also had to cope with another turnover-filled day after throwing two interceptions, plus having a ball he thought was an incomplete pass turn into a crucial 52-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
"It’s just one of those things," Ryan said. "Sometimes physical mistakes happen. That’s part of playing sports. We like to work as hard as we possibly can to try and make those things not happen, but we all make mistakes at certain points. I’ve certainly made a ton of mistakes throughout my career. 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. We’ve got to make better decisions, and I do, too, in order to give ourselves a chance to win games. It’s just difficult to overcome a three-turnover deficit. We did it [last week], but it was a little too much to overcome [Sunday]."
Committing turnovers is not something Ryan wants to continue if he hopes to guide the Falcons back to the Super Bowl. He had three interceptions in a 30-26 win at Detroit last week, including a pick-six, which led to 10 points for the Lions. Then on Sunday, his two interceptions led to a pair of Bills field goals to go with the fumble recovery for a touchdown. That's five interceptions on the year coming off an MVP season during which he tossed only seven.
The first was a third-quarter jump ball Ryan lofted down the field to 5-foot-8 receiver Taylor Gabriel, and 6-foot Bills safety Micah Hyde had no problem leaping and snatching it out of the air. Maybe if Julio Jones or Mohamed Sanu would have been on the field, the play would have worked. But both Jones (hip flexor) and Sanu (hamstring) were in the locker room by then, nursing injuries.
Nick Williams, the Falcons' 5-10 receiver, was the target on Ryan's other interception. The ball ricocheted off Williams and was corralled by Hyde before it hit the ground, at least according to the replay review. And Williams took responsibility, although the throw wasn't perfect.
"Matt gave me a chance to make a play on it. I just didn't come down with it," Williams said. "I've got to make that play and, if anything, try not to give them a chance at the ball. [Ryan] throws a good ball. In that situation, you've got to come down with it."
Falcons coach Dan Quinn talked about his concern level regarding Ryan's interceptions.
"I think last week, two of them were on the tips, so we'd like to have those ones back for sure," Quinn said. "I do know this: That's a part of our game that we can get corrected, and I know that we will. It is disappointing to have that happen two weeks in a row.
"It's always a part of our thinking because we know it's such a big factor in winning. When you're that far away, when you're minus-3 [in turnover differential], to have a chance at it last week and this week -- last week I think the teams that were at minus-3 for the season had been 1-9 and we were that one, so now we're on the same side as the normal team when you go minus-3. Not creating them is also an issue for me."
Winning the turnover ratio will be particularly crucial when the Falcons enter NFC South play. Carolina's win over the Super Bowl champion Patriots in New England on Sunday might indicate the 3-1 Panthers are ready to compete for the division crown again. And both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Panthers ranked in the top 10 in turnovers created last season with 29 and 27 takeaways, respectively. The Falcons' first divisional game is on Nov. 5 at Carolina.
Ryan said the Falcons would take this week's bye to reflect on a lot of things. One can bet the reigning MVP won't dwell on the turnovers. He'll simply find a way to move past them.