After a week-long session of hand wringing and bouts of “what ifs”, “why did”s, and even a few “can we trade him for’s”, Desmond Ridder and his team gave Atlanta fans another look at the long-criticized and scrutinized Atlanta Falcons. A better one.
The Falcons, a week after losing in London to the Jaguars, were facing another week of criticism for starting off slow and not maximizing opportunities caused by their opponent’s weaknesses. Ridder specifically got the most second-guessing for his errors during the Jaguars game. This game against the Texans in front of a home crowd was a golden opportunity for the Falcons to change the narrative and quiet those doubters.
Ridder and the Falcons successfully capped a game that seemed in the first three quarters to give fans a nagging feeling of deja vu. The Houston Texans grabbed the lead early in the first quarter, scoring a field goal on their opening drive, besting the Falcons, who came away from their opening drive going three and out.
Then later in the first quarter, the Falcons charged out of the gate with a 3:50 minute drive that ended in a Ridder touchdown. For the second and third quarter, all of the scoring, albeit FG’s, were done by the Texans. Falcon fans groaned as their team fell further behind.
But the tide turned in the fourth quarter for the Falcons. Bijan Robinson caught a six-yard pass from Ridder and hauled it in for a second Falcons touchdown. A two-point conversion pushed the Dirty Birds out front once again. Houston would seize back the advantage with a CJ Stroud TD in the final 1:49 in the game.
With so little time left and facing going 2-3 and another week like last week on steroids if they lose this very winnable game, the Falcons needed a hero and got three. Ridder tossed the ball to Drake London for 23 yards. That brought the Falcons to the right spot for Younghoe Koo to kick the field goal to win the game with seconds left. He did. Sailed through. Falcons won. 21-19.
Ridder went 28 of 37 for 329 passing yards, a single TD, and no interceptions (his first non-INT game in two games.) The Texans Stroud went 20 for 35 for 249 yards and one TD. Robinson had 46 rushing yards on 14 attempts. Kyle Pitts got 7 receptions for 87 yards. London got 6 receptions for 78 yards.
After the game, head coach Arthur Smith summed up his thoughts about his quarterback’s performance.
“Pretty damn good,” he said, adding that the weeks of second-guessing after back-to-back Falcons losses taught the team to play through adversity. “That’s what good teams do…they find a way.”
As for star running back, Robinson, Smith said “Great players make hard things look easy.”
The Falcons have another home game this Sunday, this time against the 2-3 Washington Commanders.
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