The Atlanta Falcons lost for the third time in their last four games after they fell to the Washington Commanders, 19-13, on the road in Week 12 of the 2022 NFL season. The Falcons are now 5-7, which places them in second place in the NFC South. Here we’ll discuss the four Falcons most to blame for their tough Week 12 loss vs. the Commanders.
On Sunday, the Falcons came up just short against the Commanders. With two minutes remaining and a six-point deficit, the Falcons marched down the field into the red zone before a tipped pass was intercepted by the Commanders on the goal line.
The Falcons actually outgained the Commanders by 18 yards in this game. However, red zone performance proved to be the difference between winning and losing. In three red zone visits, Washington threw two scores, while Atlanta tossed just one touchdown and the game-clinching interception. Most NFL games are decided by execution at the goal line, and the Falcons simply couldn’t come through with a score down six with little over a minute remaining. Atlanta had an opportunity, but the Falcons just failed to capitalize.
Looking ahead to Week 13, the Falcons welcome rookie QB Kenny Pickett and the Pittsburgh Steelers to Atlanta.
For now, let us look at the four Falcons most to blame for their Week 12 loss vs. the Commanders.
Final from Washington
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) November 27, 2022
4. Falcons’ Tackling
Washington entered Sunday’s game leading the NFL in time of possession, and they proved why in the second half. The Commanders, who were playing solid football on both ends, had the ball for 10:44 in the third quarter and then took 5:55 off the clock to start the fourth quarter. One big reason was that the Falcons defense began to show signs of fatigue on the field for the vast majority of the second half.
Most significantly, this had an effect on Atlanta’s tackling. The Falcons have struggled mightily to prevent extra yardage early in fourth quarters this season. In fact, they rank 20th in PFF’s tackling grade through 11 weeks. Washington took full advantage of this. The Commanders just tore through the Falcons’ interior and covered 58 yards on the ground to set up a field goal and take a 19-13 lead.
3. RB Cordarrelle Patterson
Star Atlanta running back Cordarrelle Patterson carried 11 times for 52 yards in this loss to the Commanders. He added three catches for 19 yards on five targets. Patterson’s workload has been carefully monitored as he has now seen between 10 and 13 carries in three of his four games since returning from a knee injury. He also had gains of 21, 15, and 13 yards to reach 50 running yards for the second time in a row. Patterson’s participation as a pass catcher was also promising, as his five targets matched his season best.
In all, it wasn’t really a bad performance from the four-time Pro Bowler. Still, the Falcons definitely need more from him moving forward. Take note that he averaged 100+ yards in his first three games this season. Falcons fans sure hope he can continue gaining more yards in the next few weeks.
2. QB Marcus Mariota
Falcons QB Marcus Mariota completed just 15-of-25 passes for 174 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He also rushed for 49 yards on six attempts. This was not one of Mariota’s best performances this season, that’s for sure.
At least he showed some legs. Mariota has now surpassed 40 running yards in five of his previous eight games. Midway through the second quarter, he also threw a four-yard touchdown throw on a misdirection play.
Having said that, Mariota averaged just 7.0 yards per attempt and threw an interception near the Commnanders’ goal line with little over a minute remaining in the game. Despite the lackluster performance, though, he is expected to remain as Atlanta’s starting quarterback as long as the team is in postseason contention.
1. WR Drake London
Many expected Falcons wideout Drake London to benefit the most from TE Kyle Pitts’ absence. However, he was only targeted four times, and he hauled in only two catches. His 29 yards were second on the team, demonstrating how sluggish Atlanta’s passing attack remained.
Keep in mind that London has not surpassed 40 receiving yards since Week 3. That’s despite starting the season with an average of 70+ yards and two touchdowns in the first three games. Based on what we see, London has devolved into a touchdown-or-bust player for ATL, which is surely not the best-case scenario for him.
Looking ahead, unless the Falcons abandon the Marcus Mariota experiment, we might continue to see London struggling for targets and yardage. He has had three or fewer receptions in three of the Falcons’ last four games.