Falcons botch clock management against Browns

Much like the Lions game in London, the Falcons had no business losing to the Browns on Sunday afternoon.

Matt Ryan was able to lead Atlanta down the field and into field goal range before two inexplicable things happened from coach Mike Smith, which should teach young up-and-coming coaches what not to do in the fourth quarter of tight games.

First, Smith called a timeout before a third-and-2 play from Cleveland's 35-yard line. From there, that's a 53-yard field goal attempt, well within Matt Bryant's range. It should have been simple: run the ball one more time and attempt a game-winner with no time remaining, something Bryant has done many times before.

And if the Browns called a timeout instead, that's one fewer for their final drive. The Falcons did them a huge favor by calling a timeout.

Following the first blunder, Ryan attempted a pass to receiver Devin Hester that fell incomplete. This stopped the clock and ensured that the Browns would have a chance to convert a late field goal of their own if Bryant's went through. It did. And then the Browns quickly drove down the field and Billy Cundiff kicked the game-winner to give them a 26-24 victory.

The Falcons fell to 4-7 as a result in a game that should have been a win. Now the Falcons have to hope the Saints lose to the Ravens Monday night instead of being in control of their own destiny. The London game was one thing. This might've been the final straw for the Mike Smith era in Atlanta, unless the organization wins out and captures the NFC South crown somehow.

Hey, crazier things have happened. And this division is quite horrible this year, to say the least.

Follow me on Twitter: @JasonHButt

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