The Falcons survived a sloppy outing in Tampa Bay to top the Buccaneers and take sole possession of first place in the NFC South.
After committing three turnovers last week against the Commanders, Desmond Ridder turned it over three more times on Sunday. This time it was by way of three fumbles.
Atlanta couldn’t overcome Ridder’s three interceptions against Washington even though the defense forced punts on the Commanders’ final four possessions, including two three-and-outs
Unfortunately, Ridder wasn’t able to put together a game-winning drive. Generally speaking, it’s impossible to win in this league when a team turns the ball over three times, compared to zero from the other club.
The same could be said for the Falcons performance against the Bucs. Somehow, Ridder overcame three turnovers, but not just three ordinary turnovers. They happened in the redzone, which makes winning that much more difficult.
In fact, the Falcons are the first team to lose three red zone fumbles in a single game and still win in nearly two decades when the Cardinals did so in 2004, according to Nick Shook.
Ridder hasn’t been responsible with the ball since he took over as the starter. Even though it took him a handful of starts to throw his first interception, he put the ball in harm’s way a lot. Defenses just didn’t capitalize. The only difference is defenses are now making Ridder pay for his mistakes.
The Falcons will only go as far as their quarterback takes them. The defense and offensive supporting cast is good enough to get this club to the postseason. So long as Ridder continues to improve, especially in the turnover category, Atlanta will likely capture their first playoff berth since 2017.
Photographer: Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire