By CHARLES ODUM
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons can’t afford to lean on Matt Bryant’s powerful right leg this week.
Field goals won’t be enough to keep pace against the high-scoring New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
Bryant’s four field goals provided all of Atlanta’s scoring until Julio Jones caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from Ryan with less than two minutes remaining against Dallas on Sunday. That touchdown tied the game before the Cowboys won 22-19 on Brett Maher’s 42-yard field goal as time expired.
The Saints (9-1) have won nine straight . They led the NFL with their average of 37.8 points per game through Sunday’s games.
“Field goals against them isn’t going to cut it the way they’re putting points up,” coach Dan Quinn said Monday.
The Falcons (4-6) already have lost one shootout against the Saints, 43-37 in overtime on Sept. 23.
“When we get our chances, we have to convert,” Ryan said Monday. “We’ve been doing a good job of that for the most part of the year. … We’ve got to be aggressive with our plays when we get our chances.”
Quinn said the Falcons can win a high-scoring game, even against the Saints.
“We are. We’re equipped,” Quinn said. “Certainly when you’re going against another team that’s high scoring, it was no surprise to see that in the first game, either.”
Jones has touchdown catches in three straight games, but the Falcons are in a scoring slump. They rank ninth in the league with their average of 26.3 points, but they’ve been held below 20 points in four games this season, including back-to-back losses to the Cowboys and Cleveland.
Atlanta led Dallas 6-3 at halftime despite being held to 110 yards. For the game, the Falcons had 354 yards, their third-lowest total of the season.
The two straight losses were devastating to Atlanta’s playoff hopes after it won three straight to reach .500.
Quinn said the Falcons shouldn’t be worried about their fading playoff hopes.
“Right now we have no luxury of looking at anything big picture,” Quinn said. “Right now there’s one picture and that’s New Orleans and that’s Thursday.”
Atlanta managed only 80 yards rushing against Dallas. Tevin Coleman had only eight carries for 58 yards, even though he gained 11 or more yards on four runs. The eight carries were his second fewest of the season.
Quinn said “it’s going to be important” to establish the run. But he said he was only seeking balance, not a greater commitment to the run.
“When you’re in the red zone against them you better finish with it in the end zone because they’re certainly able to score and they’ve shown that this year,” he said.
“Whether it’s in the run game or it’s in the pass game, it’s about being able to find explosive games and being able to score. That’s the name of the game when you’re facing a team with an explosive offense like them.”
NOTES: The Falcons are attempting to determine if linebacker Deion Jones will play this week. Jones came off injured reserve last week after missing two months with a broken right foot but was inactive against Dallas . Quinn said Jones did not participate in the team’s walkthrough practice on Monday, but instead was scheduled for work after the practice “so we’ll get a better assessment of where he’s at.” Quinn said the goal was to “keep pushing and develop to see where he’s at with his confidence level with his foot.”