ATLANTA (AP) — In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, the Atlanta Falcons are 5-7 and still in the hunt for the NFC South title.
The reality is they could be so much better if they weren’t 4-5 in one-possession games.
They were 7-2 in such situations last year.
The latest collapse, a 19-13 loss at Washington, came on second-and-goal at the Commanders' 4-yard line when Marcus Mariota’s pass was tipped by Daron Payne and intercepted by Kendall Fuller with 58 seconds remaining. The pass was intended for Cordarrelle Patterson, who was open in the end zone.
“Yeah, I thought it was a great play call,” Mariota said. “You know, C.P. was open. Unfortunately, he got his hand up, made a play on it, and bounced it away.”
The previous play resulted in a 2-yard loss. Mariota tried to sneak across the goal line on a run-pass option to the left. He faked a pitch to Patterson, thinking Washington’s Montez Sweat would go for Patterson.
It didn’t work out that way as Sweat tackled Mariota.
“It was my decision,” Mariota said. “I thought I had a one-on-one opportunity with the defensive end and I thought he was crashing down on C.P. and maybe I had a chance to get a run.”
The Falcons have dropped three of their past four but face just one team with a winning record, Baltimore, the rest of the way. They’ll need to shore up their run defense after it gave up 176 yards on 34 carries. Atlanta has allowed an average of 189.3 yards rushing in the past three games.
The leaky run defense allowed Washington to win time of possession 33:09-26:51.
“I think it comes down to being more physical than they are,” linebacker Arnold Ebiketie said. “Creating more knock-backs so we can allow our linebackers some field and open up a gap and that’s what it comes down to. I don’t think it’s a scheme issue and being more physical than they are.”
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