Falcons vs. Packers: What went right and what went wrong

NFL: SEP 17 Packers at Falcons

The Falcons mounted a thrilling comeback in Week 2 to beat the Packers, led by Desmond Ridder and Bijan Robinson in the fourth quarter to move to 2-0 on the season. As was the case in Week 1, it wasn’t always pretty, but wins are hard to come by in this league, and nobody is going to apologize for the final result.

What Went Right

Bijan Robinson is HIM

A lot of people questioned the Falcons taking a running back 8th overall given the state of their roster, but Bijan Robinson has silenced the doubters in his first two career games. Sunday afternoon was a masterclass from the former Texas Longhorn. He was the best player on the field, racking up 124 yards on the ground on 19 carries and hauling in four catches for 48 yards. Every time Robinson touches the ball, it’s must-watch television. He’s already among the best running backs in the game, and it’s fair to assume his rookie campaign is going to be historic.

Desmond Ridder delivers

Desmond Ridder was far from perfect. He threw his first career interception and likely would have thrown multiple if the Packers defenders could have held onto the ball, but when the Falcons needed him to make plays in the fourth quarter, he delivered in a big way with both his arm and legs. This is the kind of win that should give Ridder a lot of confidence moving forward. We could look back at this game in the future as the turning point for his career.

Falcons defense with another stout performance

It wasn’t as dominant as their Week 1 performance against the Panthers, but the new-look Falcons defense continues to impress. The Packers were only able to muster 224 yards on Sunday compared to the Falcons 446. Atlanta was also able to get off the field on third down consistently, holding Jordan Love and company to just three conversions on nine attempts. The days of the Falcons giving up 400+ yards and 28+ points every Sunday are beginning to feel like a distant memory.

Pass Protection

The Falcons had some real issues protecting Desmond Ridder in Week 1. Thankfully, they didn’t have to rely on the pass too often. That wasn’t the case in Week 2. Ridder had to make some plays in the second half for the team to win, and Atlanta’s offensive line held up, limiting the Packers to just one sack for two yards. If the Falcons offensive line can continue to keep Ridder clean in pass sets, this offense is going to be incredibly difficult to slow down.

Arthur Smith’s stones

In the fourth quarter with the game on the line, Arthur Smith decided to go for it on fourth and inches with just over two minutes remaining in the game. The Falcons could have opted to kick a chip shot field goal to take the lead, but it would have given Jordan Love a chance to respond. By going for it, it allowed the Falcons to chew much more of the clock. It was one of those high risk/high reward decisions that probably would have been met with a lot of scrutiny had Robinson not been able to get the first down. However, he got it with relative ease, and now we are talking about how great the call was.

What Went Wrong

Kyle Pitts’ usage

The Falcons made Kyle Pitts the highest drafted tight end in NFL history a few years ago. After his rookie season, it looked like a brilliant decision. However, his second year was marred by inconsistent quarterback play and injuries, and his third season isn’t off to the hottest of starts. He had just two catches again on Sunday for 15 yards. A win is a win, but the Falcons have to figure out how to get Pitts more involved in the offense.

Desmond Ridder’s first half

As good as Ridder was in the fourth quarter, he was disgustingly bad in the first half. He had the one interception and probably should have thrown a couple more, which would have given the Falcons no chance to come back in the second half. His decision making will have to be better for Atlanta to continue their winning ways. Ridder was lucky on Sunday, but you can’t bank on defenders dropping easy interceptions every week.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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