The Falcons latest home loss felt like an away game, with so many Steeler fans in attendance you would think they were doling out free pours of Iron City Lager and Primanti Bros. While the crowd was vocal, the lions on Pittsburgh’s defense were at the gates early, eliminating Atlanta’s run game with a firm front and forcing Marcus Mariota to make gains through the air.
While the Falcons would establish their ground attack in the second half, the game was ultimately decided by Mariota’s arm — and you know how that went.
Here’s Hat tips & head-scratchers from the Falcons’ loss against the Steelers.
Koo keeps Falcons afloat
The entire first-half offense was the result of Younghoe Koo’s leg — full stop. Koo kept Atlanta within striking distance after stalled drives with field goals from 50 and 51 yards in the second quarter, providing all of the scoring in the first two quarters.
The Steelers were also having issues converting drives into touchdowns, which kept Atlanta close heading into the locker room at halftime.
Drake London had a solid rebound day after a string of games where he was virtually absent on the field. Hauling in six passes for 95 yards, it was his most productive game as a pro.
He was targeted 12 times, but Mariota’s accuracy issues limited what could have been an even more impressive afternoon for the rookie wide receiver.
Tackling. Missed tackles on Pat Friermuth’s long catch-and-run in second quarter. Has become a large issue.
Curious clock management
Arthur Smith’s decision not to take a timeout prior to the two-minute warning was, to put it lightly, a baffling one. With Pittsburgh crossing the 50-yard-line and nearly 2:40 remaining on the game clock, Smith allowed the Steelers to simply waste time until the two-minute warning.
Atlanta had all of its timeouts at the time, so utilizing one to prevent 30+ seconds from ticking off made sense — it essentially served as a fourth timeout.
Given how the game ended once Atlanta regained possession it ended up being inconsequential, but it was a curious decision when the defense would be forced to make a stop to give Atlanta a shot at tying or winning the game.
Marcus Mariota’s season in an Atlanta Falcons uniform has been peppered with highlights — like winning the NFC Offensive Player of the Week Award — but the common thread has been inaccuracy and turnovers at the worst possible moments. Unfortunately for him, his latest lackluster game may be his last as the Falcons’ starting quarterback.
Mariota’s latest meltdown included yet another interception on a must-score drive. After overthrowing his receivers all day and somehow avoiding a turnover, his errant pass to wide receiver Drake London was snared by Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, ending Atlanta’s attempt to tie the score with a field goal.
Coach Arthur Smith will be evaluating the positional depth chart during the bye week, and it’s highly likely that Mariota is relegated to the role of backup quarterback in Week 15.