LONDON (AP) — Desmond Ridder hasn't put up big numbers in his handful of NFL starts for the Atlanta Falcons.
At least he hadn't thrown many interceptions, though.
The second-year Atlanta quarterback threw two interceptions, including a pick-6, in a 23-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium.
“I did a terrible job of taking care of the ball,” Ridder said.
Darious Williams picked off Ridder in the second quarter and raced 61 yards for a touchdown that extended Jacksonville's lead to 17-0.
Ridder's next pass was also intercepted, this time by Andre Cisco. That put the Jags in the red zone and though they failed to convert on a fourth-and-1, it kept the Falcons pinned deep in their own end.
“The reality is we put ourselves in a whole — and we can’t turn the ball over,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “So that’s something we’ve got to look at, and it’s not just one person.”
Jacksonville stuffed the Falcons' run-heavy offense early on, but Ridder led an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive to start the second half, finding Drake London for a 15-yard touchdown reception.
Smith was pleased by the response.
“Those are tough lessons for a young quarterback,” he said of the interceptions. “(You) find out about yourself when you go back out there. In the second half, he was able to push the ball down the field a little bit. I thought he operated cleaner in the pocket and we were able to get some looks, and he was not risk averse after that, which a lot of times that happens.”
The rally fell short, though.
Ridder lost a fumble late in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach on Josh Allen's strip-sack. The Jags' edge rusher had three sacks in the game.
Ridder finished 19 of 31 for 192 yards, the TD pass and two interceptions.
“Me personally, get back in there, just be able to take control of the game plan, go in there, lead these guys, don’t create no division,” the quarterback said of how to respond and get ready for the Houston Texans next week. “Just go out there, be a leader... just get better at the end of the day.”
Smith took responsibility for the slow start, saying “it's always going to start with me.”
“Whatever we have to do to get this thing jumpstarted, that’s what we’re going to do," he said.
Whatever the solution, it likely will involve rookie running back Bijan Robinson, who had another big game, carrying 14 times for 105 yards. It's the second time this season he's rushed for at least 100 yards.
“He's going to be very good in this league for a long time, and they have weapons on offense,” Jags coach Doug Pederson said of Atlanta's top draft pick, No. 8 overall in the 2023 draft.