It wasn’t a pretty win, but a win nonetheless. The Falcons were able to pull out their second consecutive victory of the season despite terrible quarterback play from Marcus Marriota.
The veteran signal caller completed just seven passes Sunday afternoon as Atlanta’s rushing attack led the way in their 23-20 win over the Cleveland Browns. Still, victories in the NFL are hard to come by, and sometimes they’re dirty gritty wins.
“Sometimes it’s not going to be pretty,” Mariota said after the game. “We’re going to do whatever we can to win these games and give our guys credit, we found ways to make plays.”
Coming into the afternoon, many expected this matchup to be a slugfest, which is exactly how it turned out. Arthur Smith continued his commitment to the run game, but it wasn’t the Falcons’ leading rusher — Cordarrelle Patterson — who did most of the damage. The veteran running back was dealing with injuries coming into the game, so the bulk of the carries fell to Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley.
Allgeier and Huntley carried the ball 10 times, with the former totaling 84 yards while the latter totaling 56 yards and a touchdown. As a team, the Falcons rushed for 202 yards — outpacing the top rushing team in the league — and averaged 5.8 yards per carry. With that kind of success on the ground, the MVP of the game has to be the offensive line.
“It starts up front. You have to give credit to our O-line. They did an unbelievable job,” Mariota said. “For us, sometimes as an offense, you’ve got to be patient. You’re not going to make plays in the passing game and we understood that. … We had opportunities to run the football.”
Mariota had his worst game of the season — completing 7 of 19 passes for 139 yards and one interception. However, when it mattered most, the veteran came up big during Atlanta’s final drive that resulted in the go-ahead field goal late in the fourth quarter. Thanks to his mobility, Mariota was able to escape the pocket from Cleveland pressure and find a wide-open Olamide Zaccheaus for a 42-yard pitch and catch.
That is how you move down the field!
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) October 2, 2022
The Falcons were deep in their own territory, and the play moved the offense into Cleveland’s territory. An untimely facemask penalty at the end of the play tacked on another 15 yards, setting up a would-be go-ahead 45-yard field goal for Younghoe Koo to give the Falcons the lead. It was an ugly performance from Mariota, but a win is a win. That’s all that matters at the end of the day.
“It was a complete team win. … To be able to play all three phases that way, it’s huge for us,” Mariota said. “That’s what it takes. I don’t really care, as long as we win games.”
Photographer: Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire