2023 ended with the Falcons giving us much of what they’ve provided all season: maddening frustration. The defense apparently didn’t make the flight, quarterbacks Taylor Heinicke and Desmond Ridder combined for four interceptions, and traditionally automatic Younghoo Koo missed a pair of field goals.
The Falcons are still somehow alive in the NFC South due to Tampa falling to New Orleans, but it’s blindingly clear that this is nowhere near a playoff team.
Read on for Hat tips & head-scratchers from Sunday’s loss to Chicago.
Tyler Allgeier’s housecall
Running back Tyler Allgeier has expectedly seen his volume dwindle with the drafting of Bijan Robinson, but on Sunday he reminded us of the types of plays that he’s capable of.
Allgeier took a screen pass from quarterback Taylor Heinicke at the start of the second quarter and followed some excellent downfield blockers en route to a 75-yard score. With the Falcons already down 14-0 and playing in unfriendly elements, it was the splash play they needed to keep from getting buried early.
Heinicke makes it happen with his legs
Questionable during the week with an ankle injury, quarterback Taylor Heinicke did his best work in the game with his legs. With Atlanta desperately needing to claw back points in the third quarter, Heinicke scrambled on third down and found clearance ahead. The 24-yard touchdown moved the Falcons into striking distance, 27-17 after the extra point.
The quarterback play has been pretty putrid through 2023, but Heinicke gets a tip of the hat for his long rushing touchdown.
A defensive collapse
In a year where the Atlanta defense has consistently kept them in position to win games, they completely melted against Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears. Fields was absolutely dealing despite the snow, throwing for 268 yards and a passing touchdown. He added 45 rushing yards and a score on the ground, as well.
The Falcons’ defense surrendered 37 points to Chicago, its most of the season. Nothing particularly worked against Justin Fields and the Bears, but it was alarming to watch the Atlanta defensive line get bullied in the trenches the entire day.
Koo misses two
When Younghoe Koo lines up for a field goal, I typically head to the kitchen to grab another drink. I’m confident that ball is going through the uprights, so I don’t need visual confirmation. Koo was anything but automatic in sketchy weather in Chicago, missing his first two field goal attempts which left Atlanta in an early 14-0 hole.
Koo’s been responsible for most of the Falcons’ scoring offense this season, but it’s jarring to see him miss a pair of field goals.