In his first game back from injury, Falcons running back Steven Jackson was shut down by the Cardinals’ defense on Sunday. Jackson and the Falcons still aren’t giving up on the season, even after falling to 2-5. (Reuters)
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Falcons are 2-5, but still believe they can turn their season around.
“Yeah, definitely,” Falcons rookie cornerback Desmond Trufant said. “We have no choice. We have aspirations to be a great team. All of the veterans are used to being in a winning spot. We are going to get back to it. We just have to continue to grind.”
The Falcons have struggled running the ball, stopping the run and pass blocking. They have a rash of injuries and are committing penalties at an alarming rate.
They have a lot to fix if they plan to get back to .500 before they can even think about the playoffs.
“I don’t see why not,” defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux said, when asked if they Falcons can turn their season around. “We have to continue to work hard and do the necessary things that we need to do in order to win. We can’t have so many penalties and give up too many explosive (plays). That just equals up to a game that’s going to be lost.”
Trufant, the team’s first-round draft pick, has played well through seven games. But, with a difficult assignment of covering perennial Pro Bowler Larry Fitzgerald, Trufant was called for penalties on consecutive plays during one of Arizona’s touchdown drives.
“I had a couple of bad plays in a row, but it was obviously a judgment call,” Trufant said. “I’ll have to watch the replay to see. I can only control what I can control. So, I don’t worry too much about it. I just have to be better with my technique when I’m tackling.”
Trufant is certain the team can get moving in a winning direction.
“We didn’t give ourselves a chance with everything that occurred in all phases,” Trufant said. “We know we are a good team, but we can’t shoot ourselves in the foot.”
The Falcons had 10 penalties for 55 yards against the Cardinals.
Run defense: Arizona running back Andre Ellington’s 80-yard run led to the Falcons giving up a season-high 201 yards rushing.
“I think it was just some missed fits (lane assignments) and we missed a couple of tackles on the way in,” Babineaux said. “With a fast running back like that, you can’t give him a wide open field.”
Gonzalez locked up: The Cardinals had struggled to cover tight ends this season. In their four losses, starting tight ends had 29 receptions for 495 yards and seven touchdowns.
• Rams tight end Jared Cook caught seven passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener.
• Saints tight end Jimmy Graham caught nine passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns in Week 3.
• 49ers tight end Vernon Davis caught eight passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns in Week 6.
• Seahawks tight end Zach Miller caught five passes for 495 yards and seven touchdowns in Week 7.
Gonzalez, who’s in his 17th year, was held to three catches for 26 yards. They put two players on Gonzalez and shielded him like he was a punt-team gunner. “I’ve never seen it done to anybody else, Gonzalez said. “I’ve never seen it done.”
WIDE RECEIVER CORNER: Falcons wide receiver Roddy White is expected to play against Carolina, according to Gonzalez.
He missed his second straight game after his 133 consecutive-game-played streak was snapped.
Harry Douglas had a career-high 12 catches for 121 yards. Drew Davis caught five passes for 77 yards. Darius Johnson had four catches for 40 yards.
BAKER HELD OUT: Left tackle Sam Baker was declared inactive and was replaced in the starting lineup by Lamar Holmes, who made his fourth start of the season at left tackle. He started the first two games of the season at right tackle.
Along with Baker, running back Jason Snelling, linebacker Stephen Nicholas, guard Harland Gunn, wide receivers Roddy White and Brian Robiskie and defensive tackle Travian Robertson were inactive.