Another opportunity to ascend above the .500 mark for the first time since the 2017 season passed the Atlanta Falcons by on Sunday, as they fell to the Los Angeles Chargers 20-17 on a game-ending field goal.
It was an uncharacteristically sloppy performance in some aspects, with miscues in the passing attack and ball security issues being of particular note. There were several opportunities for this game to go differently, especially with over 200 rushing yards on the day, but Atlanta can’t afford to linger on the loss for too long with a rematch against the Carolina Panthers looming on Thursday night.
However, we can afford to hang around and wallow in this one for a moment longer.
There was nothing disappointing about Cordarrelle Patterson’s return—aside from the outcome of the game, that is—but Allgeier’s career-best outing shouldn’t be ignored. He set the tone early with a 44-yard burst on the opening drive of the game, and he totaled 113 yards on 11 touches. He likely won’t be the focal point of the run game while Patterson and Huntley are around, but the rookie continues to show that he can be a spark with limited usage.
The bare minimum for this season was to find answers for the future of this roster, and Allgeier looks like a good piece.
Oliver’s day may have been defined by an elbow, but this was one of his best outings of the season. He made a number of open-field tackles that had a non-negligible degree of difficulty, and he was clearly a player the Falcons wanted to have patrolling the short area of the field that the Chargers like to attack.
The trust and confidence this coaching staff has in Oliver continues to be clear, but Sunday also provided an excellent reminder of just how quickly a good performance can flip. Had Ekeler stayed up, we’d not think so highly of Oliver’s afternoon. That elbow touched down, though, so I get to sing Oliver’s praises.
It wasn’t the hardest interception in the world to corral, but Grant’s third-quarter pick on a ball this ricocheted off Josh Palmer’s hands should have been a big reason why the Falcons won this game. The moment occurred shortly after Drake London was stripped of the ball by Khalil Mack and it helped the Falcons take a 17-14 lead.
Grant continues to play well after a strong training camp in his second season. He finished second on the team with 11 tackles, and the interception was his second of the year, which leads all Atlanta defenders.
Richie Grant gets us the ball right back— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) November 6, 2022
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Although Mariota avoided any turnovers on Sunday afternoon, he also avoided the hands of open receivers. As they’ve done throughout the season, the Falcons dialed up some deep shots to complement their run-oriented offense. On a couple of occasions, Mariota put too much on the ball and overshot any opportunity for his receiver to make a play. Most notably, the missed connection with a wide-open Kyle Pitts in the fourth quarter hurt Atlanta’s chances to win this game. While the Falcons might have been better served just plowing through with the run game, there were some opportunities downfield in this one – Mariota just missed them.
“Really, it just starts with me,” he said after the game. “I’ve got to do a better job of giving our guys opportunities to make plays. I thought our guys were winning on the back end. Just didn’t make some of the throws.”
It’s been a quiet few weeks for the Falcons’ first-round pick. London looked to be part of the game plan early in this one, with the offense dialing up a rollout in his direction at the goal line on Atlanta’s opening possession, but he still largely held in check. In fact, the biggest impact London made in the game was his fumble in the third quarter.
While fighting for extra yardage, London had the ball ripped away by All-Pro Khalil Mack, ending a drive that seemed destined for the end zone. On a per-play basis, there hasn’t been much to complain about with London this year, but that fumble is a lesson for the rookie.
I’ve actually been a big fan of Graham’s play this season, but he can’t avoid a spot on this list after that fumble at the end of the game. After an unlikely fumble in a clench-the-game-scenario by Austin Ekeler, Graham was in the right place at the right time to scoop the ball up and get rolling in the opposite direction. While running down the right sideline, however, Graham lost control of the ball out of nowhere, which allowed the Chargers to regain possession. One play later, Los Angeles was back in position to attempt a game-winning kick. It was the literal manifestation of the game slipping away.
Arthur Smith’s post-game comments about Graham’s miscue spoke volumes about his feelings towards the second-year lineman, and it’s nice to see the head coach rally to his player’s defense like this.
“I back TQ a hundred, thousand percent,” he said. “You want to make a play. It’s a funny-shaped ball. I love TQ, and he should never hang his head down. I mean he scooped the ball up, it slipped out. He’s a defensive lineman, ball takes funny bounces sometimes.”