The Falcons struggled for much of the afternoon against the Steelers, but the Birds fought back to bring it within three points, and then completely fell apart in another one-score loss.
Arthur Smith’s staff was outcoached, and the team, usually full of life, came out flat. The Steelers, led by Kenny Pickett, scored on all four of the team’s drives in the first half. Going into the half, the Falcons were down 16-6, and it seemed like a Steelers home game by the sounds of the television and reports from those inside the stadium. And the theme continued through most of the third quarter until the Falcons finally put together their first complete drive of the game late in the third quarter, down 19-6, shrinking the lead to six points following a MyCole Pruitt score.
Then, the Falcons got a stop and put together another promising drive. However, it ended with penalties and poor execution, and Younghoe Koo brought the game within three. But that’s where it would end. The Falcons couldn’t stop the Steelers offense until there was less than a minute left in the game. And started the next drive with the ball inside their own 5-yard line. On the first play of the would-be game-tying drive, Marcus Mariota threw an interception.
The offense and defense were equally disappointing. All facets underperformed, but the one most people are going to talk about is Mariota’s play. The veteran finished with 167 yards, one touchdown, and one interception on 54.2% passing. He missed more than five receivers with overthrows, and his game-sealing interception was the icing on the cake. And Arthur Smith left the door open following the game to a quarterback change for the Falcons.
Jeff Schultz of The Athletic reports that Smith stated, “everything is on the table” regarding a quarterback change as the team heads into the bye week.
Falcons coach Arthur Smith said “Everything is on the table” going into the bye week when asked about a potential change at quarterback
— Jeff Schultz (@JeffSchultzATL) December 4, 2022
Calls for Desmond Ridder have grown louder and louder from fans and analysts alike as we see more of Mariota. The rookie hasn’t taken a single snap this season, but his performance in the preseason was encouraging. Still, the regular season is much different. It could be a rough start for the former third-rounder, but the team has to see what they have in Ridder at some point. The Falcons are still mathematically alive in the playoff race; however, their path is pretty to the postseason unattainable. Coming out of a bye week, it would be the perfect time to make the change to Ridder. Who knows what the Falcons and Arthur Smith will do square off with the Saints in New Orleans.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire