Falcons vs. Steelers: Hat Tips & Head Scratches

The Falcons’ recent home loss felt like an away game, with so many Steeler fans in attendance that you’d think they were giving out Iron City Lager and Primanti Bros. for free. While the crowd roared, the lions of Pittsburgh’s defense stood at the gates early, eliminating Atlanta’s running game with a solid front and forcing Marcus Mariota to take wins through the air.

As the Falcons established their ground attack in the second half, Mariota’s arm ultimately decided the game – and you know how that went.

Here are hat tips and head scratchers from the Falcons’ loss to the Steelers.

hat tips

Koo keeps Falcons afloat

The entire first-half offense was the result of Younghoe Koo’s leg – point. Koo kept Atlanta within striking distance from stalled drives with field goals from 50 and 51 yards in the second quarter and scored all goals in the first two quarters.

The Steelers also struggled to convert drives into touchdowns, which brought Atlanta close to the dressing room at halftime.

Drake’s day

Drake London had a solid rebound day after a string of games where he was practically off the field. It was his most productive game as a pro, with six passes for 95 yards.

He was targeted 12 times, but Mariota’s accuracy issues limited an afternoon that could have been even more impressive for the rookie wide receiver.

head scratcher

tackle. Missed tackles on Pat Friermuth’s long catch-and-run in the second quarter. Has become a big topic.

Strange clock management

Arthur Smith’s decision not to call a time-out before the two-minute warning was, to put it mildly, a stunning decision. When Pittsburgh crossed the 50-yard line and stayed almost 2:40 on the game clock, Smith allowed the Steelers to simply waste time until the two-minute warning.

Atlanta had all of their timeouts at the time, so using one to prevent ticking off more than 30 seconds made sense—it essentially served as a fourth timeout.

It was inconsequential considering how the game ended after Atlanta regained the ball, but it was an odd decision as to when the defense would be forced to make a stop, giving Atlanta an opportunity to level the game or to win.

Mariota dissolves

Marcus Mariota’s season in an Atlanta Falcons uniform was peppered with highlights — like winning the NFC Offensive Player of the Week award — but the common thread was inaccuracies and turnovers at the worst moments. Unfortunately for him, his last lackluster game could be his last as the Falcons’ starting quarterback.

Mariota’s most recent meltdown involved another interception on a duty drive. After knocking down his receivers all day and somehow avoiding a turnover, his errant pass to wide receiver Drake London was trapped by Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, ending Atlanta’s attempt to level the score with a field goal.

Coach Arthur Smith will be evaluating the position depth chart during bye week, and there’s a good chance Mariota will be relegated to the backup quarterback role in week 15.

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