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Falcons vs. 49ers: Hat tips & head-scratchers

Coach Smith treated the boys to beers. That’s a hat-tip.

San Francisco 49ers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons now find themselves at 3-3 and tied with the Bucs atop the NFC South after Sunday’s performance. There was little, if anything, to gripe about.

Hat tips

Chaos reigns

Littlefinger — of Game of Thrones fame — famously stated that ‘chaos is a ladder.’ Those words proved true in that universe, and also in the first quarter against the Niners. Facing 3rd-&-1 from his own 20-yard-line, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo handed the ball off to back Jeff Wilson, who was promptly greeted by Falcons linebacker Rashaan Evans.

What followed was glorious, glorious chaos. Wilson lost the handle on the football with the hit, which was recovered by cornerback A.J. Terrell. Terrell took off toward the end zone and then ... fumbled the ball himself. It was thankfully recovered for the touchdown by safety Jaylinn Hawkins — a play that fully encapsulated the bonkers occurrences in Atlanta Falcons games.

This time the Falcons were on the good end of one.

Marcus Mariota’s first half

Marcus Mariota has been the focus of criticism through the season’s six weeks — some clearly justified, others not so much. The Falcons’ passing attack has been lackluster in 2022, but Mariota had his finest game in Atlanta against the 49ers.

He was impeccable in the first half, going 8/8 for 97 yards and a passing touchdown, while also rushing for 31 rushing yards and a TD.

Mariota’s first incompletion didn’t take place until the fourth quarter.

Marcus Mariota is what he is at the stage in his career, which the Falcons were well aware of when they inked him to a two-year deal. If he can be the Mariota that he was on Sunday, the Falcons will win some football games.

Buyin’ a round for the O-line

When the big bodies up front clear the way for your ground game to do work, you show your appreciation in the only appropriate way: with beer. Coach Arthur Smith treated the offensive line to a round of cold ones after Atlanta’s win, a gesture that certainly deserves a tip of the hat.

Cheers.

Head-scratchers

Welp

I’m sure there’s something here to quibble with — perhaps Brandon Aiyuk sneaking free for two touchdowns, possibly the Ray-Ray McCloud, but I’ve really got nothin’. The Falcons played a complete game, emphasizing the strengths of their current personnel despite missing and losing several key pieces. They were methodical, executed assignments, and put up a firm signpost that while they’re a team still finding their feet, they are capable of winning in a manner of ways.