The Falcons were attempting to move to 3-0 on Sunday against the Lions, but they appeared to run into a buzzsaw they were not prepared to go up against. Detroit dominated Atlanta from the opening whistle, especially defensively, as they racked up seven sacks — a harsh dose of reality after such a promising start for the Falcons.
What Went Right
Falcons defense proves they are legit
Statistically, the Falcons defense entered this Week 3 contest as one of the best defenses in football, a stark contrast from where they have been in recent seasons. However, Detroit posed a much different threat than the Panthers and Packers. They were by far the best offense the Falcons have faced this season, and Atlanta performed admirably.
There was one critical miscue by Richie Grant which led to a long touchdown in the first half, but outside of that, they limited the Lions to just a couple of field goals. The Falcons defense then started the second half by forcing three punts and a turnover, courtesy of Jessie Bates, who recorded his third interception of the season. Unfortunately, the Falcons offense was dormant, because the defense gave this team a chance to win.
What Went Wrong
The offensive line
The Lions entered this matchup with just one sack on the season. They had seven on Sunday, as Desmond Ridder was fighting for his life. These weren’t coverage sacks, either. The Lions defensive line oftentimes seemed like they weren’t even touched at the point of attack, getting to Desmond Ridder before he could even look downfield. Pass protection is an issue for this team that must be corrected, but the Falcons run blocking, which is normally good, also wasn’t up to par on Sunday. The Falcons ran the ball for just 44 yards on 20 carries, an all-around abysmal performance for the offensive line, which was thought to be a strength of this team coming into the season.
It wasn’t all Desmond Ridder’s fault by any means. Few quarterbacks could have performed well under the circumstances, but it’s also fair to recognize Ridder is part of the problem and not the solution right now. He should have thrown 3-4 interceptions, as he continues to be one of the luckiest QBs in the dropped interceptions department, and was inaccurate all afternoon, particularly in big moments. If he has another few performances like this, the Falcons need to seriously evaluate all of their options.
Once one of the most reliable kickers in the game, Koo missed a 47-yard field goal that ended the Falcons first drive of the second half, which would have made it a one score game. The Falcons ended up losing by two touchdowns, but coming away with no points on that drive felt like a gut punch to an offense that was struggling to get its wheels turning all afternoon. After making 94.9% of his field goal attempts in 2020 and 93.1% in 2021, that number was down to 86.5% last year. Hopefully, this isn’t a sign of things to come this season.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire