By ROBERT LEE
Journal Sports Writer
FOXBORO -- In Week 2 Bill Belichick said that the Pats coaching staff were outcoached by the Jets coaching staff, which helped lead to a 16-9 victory for the Jets.
On Sunday at Gillette Stadium, it was Atlanta coach Mike Smith saying that the Patriots coaching staff outcoached Atlanta's after New England beat Atlanta 26-10.
"Guys, I didn't feel like we played our best game today," Smith said. "It was a hard fought game and I think we played well in spurts, but we weren't able to get the job done. Coach Belichick and his staff did, I think, a very, very good job in having his team ready to play and we've got a lot of things, starting with me all the way down, that we got to look at and get better at in all three phases - offense, defense and special teams.
"So we're going into our bye week and we'll get back together tomorrow as a team, watch the tape, make the corrections and move forward. This is a long journey. This is a 16-week season, and this is our third game of this season."
It appeared that the Falcons were expected the Patriots to throw the ball a lot more than they did. They didn't blitz lot, instead keeping seven back a lot of times to cover the Patriot receivers.
Because they weren't loading the box, that allowed the Patriots to move the ball effectively by running the ball - 39 carries for 168 yards - which in turn helped set up the play-action-pass for Tom Brady who completed 25-of-42 yards for 277 yards and a 36-yard touchdown pass to tight end Chris Baker.
"Coming into the game they had run the ball 43 times and thrown it 100," Smith said. "Their game plan, obviously today, was to come in and run it a little bit more. And we did not [stop] the run as well as we'd like to...We didn't play the run the way we needed to play it."
Fred Taylor led the Patriots core of running backs with 105 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.
"We did not put pressure on the quarterback," Smith said. "We did not get a sack. We did pressure Tom early in the game. We pressured him there before halftime with some five and six-man pressures. And they did a nice job in their protection. They were the better team today. It's real simple. If you want to search for answers, they were the better team and we will try to go make corrections because I know we are a good football team as well."
Offensively the Falcons couldn't get much going in the second half. The Patriots held the Falcons high-powered offense that entered the game averaging 23.5 points to zero second half points.
"It was a bit of a frustrating loss for us today," said Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, who was held to 199 yards and no touchdowns on 17 completions. "I thought we came out and did a pretty good job on offense and moving the ball today. We just couldn't get the ball in the end zone. When you play a good football team like New England in their stadium, you are going to have to do that. So hats off to them. They played better than us today."
Even with the loss, Smith said that he learned a lot about his team.
"I learned that our guys played hard and we did not quit," Smith said. "Those guys were battling through adversity, battling through a lot of things and again that's a good football team in a hostile environment. It's the first time we've played outside, it's our first road game of the season. We'll learn a lot from this."