Atlanta all but evaporated its hopes for a playoff berth in the worst game of the season, blowing a 7-6 lead late to Carolina courtesy of quarterback Desmond Ridder throwing an interception right at a Panthers defender. The Falcons now plumb the depths of despair as more questions surround a talented team that appears destined to miss the postseason for the fifth consecutive season.
Read on for Hat tips & head-scratchers from Sunday’s loss to the Panthers.
Calais Campbell has a day
He’s been doing it his entire career, but Calais Campbell was disruptive on the defensive interior in Sunday’s loss to Carolina. He earned his 103rd career sack in the second quarter, and blew up a play in the third. The Falcons’ defensive line has been beset by injury, and Campbell’s performance down the stretch has kept the wheels from falling off entirely.
Bijan loses the ball
Rookie running backs having fumbling issues is nothing new, but Bijan’s seem to come at critical moments. His third fumble on the year came late in the third quarter, with defensive tackle Derrick Brown laying a helmet directly on the football and jarring it loose.
The Panthers would take over on the Falcons’ 25-yard line. That would set up Carolina kicker Eddie Pineiro for a field goal to move the score to 7-6, which of course, would not stand.
Bijan Robinson will be a focal point of Atlanta’s offense, but he absolutely needs to clean up the turnovers.
Sunday afternoon was disastrous for quarterback Desmond Ridder, and that loss could be the first domino to fall with coming personnel changes in Atlanta. On a rainy day in Charlotte, Ridder was abysmal — fumbling two snaps and throwing an inexplicable interception that proved pivotal to Carolina’s come-from-behind win.
Snaps have been an issue all season long, and there was concern that center Drew Dalman and Ridder simply were not on the same page. With Dalman inactive against Carolina and backup Ryan Neuzil filling in, that concern seemingly points to the common denominator in the exchange: Desmond Ridder.
His fourth-quarter pass that was promptly intercepted is one that an NFL quarterback simply does not make. Ridder scrambled away from pressure and had time to make an accurate pass, but instead threw it directly at a Panthers defender to effectively seal the loss. It was his 10th interception on the season.
Time will tell what the Falcons’ plan is with Desmond Ridder, but it’s become apparent that he does not possess the decision-making ability or consistent accuracy of a starting NFL quarterback.