It looked like things could get ugly early for the Falcons after a pair of fumbles in the first half, but Atlanta deserves credit for clawing back in its 27-24 victory against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
With the win, the Falcons move to 5-6 on the year and remain right in the thick of the NFC South race with games against New Orleans and Tampa Bay still to come. During the win, however, Kyle Pitts and Ta’Quon Graham sustained injuries and it remains to be seen how much time those two important pieces will be missing.
As of now, though, the Falcons remain relevant and focused on this season and not the future. So, with that being said, let’s focus on some player stocks.
After a little bit of a rougher stretch than usual, Koo was right back to his automatic ways when the Falcons needed him most. The right-legged reaper sent the Bears packing with his 53-yard field goal at the 1:47 mark in the fourth quarter, and he also connected from 40 yards out earlier in the game.
Koo was also perfect on all three of his extra-point attempts after struggling in that area in the bad weather against Carolina. The Falcons would not have won this game without Koo, which is something we end up saying a lot.
This really should be a shared award between all four players who notched a sack on Sunday, but Ebiketie is starting to deliver on the early promise he’s shown this season. Entering Week 11, the second-round pick had 21 total pressures, which ranks fourth among all rookie edge rushers, and his pass-rush win rate is just one notch below the likes of Aidan Hutchinson and George Karlaftis. The sacks haven’t come in bunches for Atlanta this season, but they did on Sunday. Ebiketie, who now has 1.5 sacks over the last two games, is starting to become a bigger part of this group.
I also want to give a quick shoutout to Lorenzo Carter in this section, because he continues to do all of the little things that it takes to play good defense. It doesn’t get talked about enough, because the stats aren’t popping off the page, but he is consistently one of my favorite players to watch.
You break an NFL record; your stock is going to rise. Simple as that. In hindsight, It’s hard to not feel like there was a sense of inevitability for his ninth career kickoff return touchdown. After fumbling the ball away on another excellent effort, Patterson was solely focused on helping his team get back into the game by any means necessary.
The dynamic veteran had a bit more of a workload in this game than against the Panthers, and he finished with 52 yards on 10 carries for a very healthy average of 5.2 yards in addition to the big return.
A NEW NFL RECORD FOR @ceeflashpee84— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) November 20, 2022
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Desmond Ridder stans
This one is a bit in jest, because it’s not always the most fun to call out dudes after a win. Prior to Sunday’s kickoff, Ian Rapoport shared a report on NFL.com that provides a pretty clear look at the Falcons’ mindset with the quarterback situation – a term Arthur Smith does not agree with. Here’s a little taste, but I strongly encourage you read the whole thing.
“The belief is, while the Falcons still have all their goals in front of them, benching Mariota would be counterproductive while also sending the wrong message to the locker room,” Rapoport writes. “It might feel like saying goodbye to the season. Situations can change, and if the focus shifts from 2022 to the future, perhaps a move would come then.”
Given where the Falcons currently stand in the NFC South race and the conference, it doesn’t seem likely that any move at quarterback would come until at least after the Week 14 bye. Considering how Atlanta has battled this season, however, it may be a bit longer than that before they believe themselves out of it.
This has nothing to do with his performance, but merely his usage. With Patterson back in the mix and the team seemingly liking how Tyler Allgeier – who led the Falcons with 55 yards on eight carries – is progressing there just haven’t been many opportunities for Huntley to get involved.
He had one carry for 4 yards and one catch for 2 yards. Huntley played just two snaps in the game, although it is worth noting that the Falcons ran fewer plays on offense than they typically do. While he has been admirably productive and physical at times this season, Huntley’s workload is trending downwards.
It’s overrated and unnecessary. But have a Happy Thanksgiving, fam!