ATLANTA — Poor Matt Ryan. Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan could have used the mercy rule Thursday night. The National Guard. Oder the Federal Witness Protection Program.

The New England Patriots defense laid it on thick in paving the way for a fifth consecutive victory for Bill Belichick’s team, a 25-0 job that improved the record to 7-4.

It is perhaps symbolic, maybe, that the Patriots’ defense proved so adept on the Mercedes-Benz Stadium prime-time stage. The last time New England visited this immaculate football palace, Belichick’s defense secured a ring by clamping down the Los Angeles Rams in the lowest-scoring game in Super Bowl history.

Now the Patriots defense, rebuilt since the 2018 season’s Super Bowl unit, pitches a shutout and adds more fuel to a hot streak of recent weeks. In the three previous games, the Patriots let 13 points slip.

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Ryan is an expert on the subject. He was sacked four times, absorbed 11 quarterback hits, was intercepted twice and along with his feeble O-line, was stymied on Atlanta’s only two scoring threats. This is a quick snapshot

♦  On a third-and-1 from the Patriots’ 22 in the second quarter, the Falcons called for a pass. Kyle Van Noy threw Ryan out for a loss of 13 yards. Then Younghoe Koo’s apparent 45-yard field goal was wiped out by a flag for an illegal formation. Koo failed to make the follow 50 yard attempt.

♦  In the third quarter, the Falcons drove to the Patriots’ 16. Keith Smith got stuffed on third-and-1 for no gain. The two tried to go for it but Qadree Olson was too strong on fourth-and-1 and turned the ball over at downs.

Mac Jones, a rookie Patriots quarterback, kept mistakes at a minimum, and Nick Folk made four field goals of 32 yards, 44, 53 and 33 to support the defense effort. Van Noy also picked up a pick-6 to endanger Ryan, who was being replaced by Josh Rosen.

Atlanta, 4-6, played without Cordarrelle, its running back/receiver Cordarrelle, because Patterson is recovering from an ankle injury. This might have not mattered that much. It was a battle in trenches against the Falcons. They lost on the perimeters. Then more. It is in dire need of the 10 day break after being defeated 43-3 by Dallas on Sunday.



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