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Falcons - Ravens instant recap: Frustration mingles with small progress

Atlanta makes a few small strides, but the result doesn’t match the progress.

Atlanta Falcons v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Falcons figured to have a tough day on the road, in the cold, and facing a rough Baltimore squad. They did and they were beat by multiple scores, and yet that result masked quality moments and small steps forward for an Atlanta team that desperately need to show us some sort of progress.

The Falcons were awful early on, allowing 14 points on some very annoying drives, but once again clamped down after the first half to hold the Ravens to three points. Atlanta’s offense also found its footing, stringing together repeated long drives, even if they didn’t end in touchdowns. Those small signs of progress were pretty encouraging, but it didn’t make a difference in the final outcome, as Atlanta lost by eight points regardless.

There were many reasons for that, with the success of the Ravens ground game and Atlanta’s inability to convert crucial third and fourth down opportunities standing out, as well as a couple of tooth-grinding officiating decisions factoring in. The Falcons will likely be officially eliminated from the playoffs soon, and the next two games will be about trying to build on those seeds of improvement we saw in this game. It has been yet another tough, disappointing season for the Falcons, but we’re hoping there’s light at the end of the tunnel where none existed before.

Here’s the full drive-by-drive recap of the game you just watched.

1st Quarter

The Ravens had the ball first, and they kicked things off with a 10 yard J.K. Dobbins run that seemed like a grim omen. On first down, a pass to Mark Andrews was incomplete, and then Dobbins picked up about four yards. On third down, Tyler Huntley hit Justise Hill for a few yards, but he went out of bounds early. Ravens punt.

A low snap didn’t doom the first Falcons play, a handoff to Olamide Zaccheaus that went for eight yards. Cordarrelle Patterson then picked up a yard, and then a Desmond Ridder quarterback sneak was doomed by a fumbled snap. Falcons punt.

On first down, Huntley had to run away from pressure, but was still able to find Sammy Watkins downfield for a huge gain that brought the Ravens within striking distance. Huntley was blown up on the subsequent first down, followed by a short run and then a long scramble where Huntley was thankfully stopped short of the end zone. Justin Tucker hit the field goal try to make it 3-0 Baltimore.

A nice Avery Williams return gave the Falcons decent field position to start the drive. Ridder was sacked on first down , and then the second down pass was broken up. and then Ridder couldn’t find an open man and was sacked on third down while trying to run to the sideline, rather than throwing it away. Falcons punt.

Gus Edwards picked up a first down after two carries, and then was tackled quickly on the subsequent first down. Richie Grant did a great job of defending a long second down pass, and then the Huntley pass to Isaiah Likely was well short of the sticks. Justin Tucker came on for a 55 yard attempt, and it was blocked by Adetokunbo Ogundeji in an excellent play. The Falcons took over with strong field position.

Patterson took the carry on first down for three yards, and then Tyler Allgeier had a stellar run that saw him helicopter through the air to get the first down. Allgeier then got a yard, and Ridder tried to hit Drake London on the sideline and missed a little high. On third down he scrambled for five yards, and then the Falcons went for it on fourth down and Ridder missed downfield under pressure. Turnover on downs.

Five yards on first down for the Ravens, and then the first quarter was mercifully over.

2nd Quarter

Tyler Huntley went for Josh Oliver deep and missed, but he got Mark Andrews for a huge gain on third down to set the Ravens up within scoring distance. The Ravens then chained together three plays for a combined six yards, with Tucker getting yet another attempt and hitting it to extend the lead to 6-0 Ravens.

Another solid return gave way to Allgeier picking up three on a first down run, and then Ridder got away from pressure and zipped a sideline throw to Zaccheaus for a first down. Two Allgeier runs for a combined three yards set up a third and long situation, and then Ridder hit Anthony Firkser a yard or two shy of the first down marker. They went for it on fourth down again, and Ridder completed a sharp throw over the middle to London for a big first down...only to see the ball punched out and recovered by the Ravens. Baltimore ball.

On first down, the Gus Bus took it for a first down on the ground. A short gain gave way to a Huntley scramble for a first down, and then Dobbins took it for a first down. The Falcons got the Ravens to third down before Baltimore converted on the ground again. Repeat this sentence for the next series, unfortunately. On first down, the Falcons once again stymied Dobbins, and then a second down strike to the end zone was dropped. On third down, DeMarcus Robinson reeled in the touchdown grab to cap things off. To make matters worse, Huntley punched it in for a two point conversion. 14-0 Ravens.

Under pressure, Ridder got rid of it to Patterson, who took it for 14 yards and a first down. A nice Patterson run for a first down was wiped out by a Kaleb McGary hold, so on 1st and 20 Ridder hit London for nine yards. Then he hit Allgeier on a short pass that went for an additional 25 yards. Ridder threw it away on first down, and then Avery Williams got nowhere on second down. Ridder threw it high for London on third down—so high that London had to fully extend to get it—but he came down with a spectacular catch that endured after review. A nice run got close to a first down, and then Ridder tried London on second down in the end zone and didn’t quite get it. Then he got Avery Williams over the middle on third down to get a first down with the clock ticking. An intentional grounding call made it second down again and further back, even though Ridder’s arm was hit by the Ravens defender, leading to an extended Arthur Smith tirade. A subsequent timeout set up a short field goal Younghoe Koo hit, and it was 14-3 Ravens going into the half.

3rd Quarter

The Falcons got it rolling immediately with a first down grab by Drake London, with a collision between two Ravens defenders knocking one out. Patterson got four on first down, and then Ridder’s pass was knocked away on second down. On third down, Ridder once again tried to hit London, but it was incomplete and a pass interference call on the defense gave Atlanta a first down. The review revealed the call should stand, and the Falcons kept rolling. Two yards on first down an incomplete pass on second down to Allgeier—it was knocked out—led to a third and long situation. The Falcons threw another quick hitter to Avery Williams, which came a yard short of converting, and Atlanta once again went for it on fourth down and converted thanks to Allgeier. That led to another two yard Allgeier run, followed by a beautiful catch over the middle by London for a first down. Allgeier then took it nine yards on first down, and then picked up a first down after another big, physical run. The Falcons saw Cordarrelle Patterson pick up a touchdown, but it was called back on a very questionable holding call, and then Ridder under pressure tried to hit MyCole Pruitt but it wasn’t under control going to the ground, which was confirmed on review. A quick pass to Olamide Zaccheaus didn’t go far enough and set up the Falcons for a short field goal try. Koo hit it. 14-6 Ravens.

A quick ten yard gain on second down after an incompletion on first down, setting up Baltimore to keep rolling. Eight yards on first down thanks to an excellent run gave way to zero gain on second down, and then on third down Troy Andersen swatted the ball out of Tyler Huntley’s hands to force a fumble Baltimore ultimately recovered. Punt for the Ravens.

On first down, Ridder simply missed over the middle. A flip to Zaccheaus, which probably wasn’t a smart call in the first place, led to no gain. On third down, Firkser picked up a few yards but ultimately had to punt. A penalty gave the Ravens five more yards on the punt result.

Huntley hit Andrews for a first down on first down. Then Edwards ran it for over 30 yards to get inside the Atlanta 10 yard line. A short gain took us to the fourth quarter.

4th Quarter

Huntley took it for a few more, and then the Ravens fizzled out and settled for an easy field goal attempt. 17-6 Ravens.

On first down, the Falcons got nothing, and then Allgeier ran for a first down and then some. Allgeier picked up a few on first down, followed by a minimal gain for Patterson. Then Avery Williams got 13 yards to pick up a first down. After a short Williams run, Ridder did a nice job of hanging in the pocket and connecting with London for a first down. Allgeier picked up a yard, and then Ridder threw it up for London again for another brilliant catch to bring the Falcons within striking distance. A couple of unproductive runs later—Allgeier tripped over Ridder—and it was third down. Ridder ran it and came up just short himself. The Falcons went for it on fourth down, but the run play for Allgeier stood no chance. Turnover on downs.

The Ravens turned it over quickly, with some unproductive passing leading to a punt.

The Falcons completed a short pass to Patterson on first down, but a holding call on Drew Dalman brought it back. On second down, Ridder zipped one over the middle, but Zaccheaus slipped and couldn’t get it. On second down and 20, Damiere Byrd reeled in a sideline grab to pick up 15 yards. Then Ridder got rid of it to Allgeier, who took it for a first down before picking up seven yards on first down, and then Ridder hit Parker Hesse for another first down. Then he got Allgeier again through the air for several, and then the Falcons picked up yet another first down. Atlanta decided to go back to a Patterson run, which lost yardage, and then settled for a field goal try. 17-9 Ravens.

The Ravens got three yards on first down and then picked up a first down on second down, and that allowed them to run out the clock and win the game.