Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez tries to break a tackle by Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty during Sunday’s game. Gonzalez caught two TDs, but the Falcons still lost, 30-23. (Reuters)
ATLANTA — Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez had a career night, which for him means adding to the numbers that will one day put him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But it didn’t matter because the Falcons lost 30-23 to the Patriots Sunday night at the Georgia Dome. Now they are 1-3 in what will be Gonzalez’s 17th and final season, one Gonzalez agreed to play only after coach Mike Smith allowed him to miss the entire offseason program and three weeks of training camp.
“This isn’t how I envisioned it at all,” Gonzalez said. “Come on. It’s not supposed to be this way as far as I’m concerned. But it is. This is reality. We are 1-3 and it’s gut-check time. We have to go out there and get it done.”
Gonzalez did his part against the Patriots with 12 catches for a career-high 149 yards with two touchdowns. Gonzalez’s previous high for yards was 147 for the Chiefs at New England on April 12, 2000.
“I give Matt (Ryan) the credit,” Gonzalez said. “I just went out there and ran my normal routes. I’ve always said if it’s man-to-man (coverage), I should be able to beat them nine out of 10 times because they don’t know where I’m going. If Matt puts the ball in a place where it’s up top like that I should be able to make the play.”
Gonzalez’s second touchdown, for 11 yards, got the Falcons within 30-20 and his nine-yard reception set up the Falcons with a second-and-one at New England’s seven. That’s as close as the Falcons got, though, as they settled for Matt Bryant’s 25-yard field goal and couldn’t score a touchdown on their final drive.
The Falcons’ troubles scoring touchdowns in the red zone foiled them again. Gonzalez’s touchdown was the only one in six trips inside the New England 20-yard line and the Falcons are now seven for 19 on touchdowns in the red zone.
“It’s such a roller coaster for us on offense right now and we can’t have that,” Gonzalez said. “Against a good teams like that, a Hall of Fame quarterback, we’ve got to be able to put up points. And we should.
“We have the players. We have the system to get it done. We’ve done it before in the past. It’s just right now we are not clicking for some reason throughout the whole game.”