On Sunday, Dec. 2, the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Atlanta Falcons 26-16 for their seventh win of the season in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Ravens (7-5) sit in second in the AFC North, while the Falcons (4-8) round out the bottom of the NFC South.
The game started slowly for the Falcons eventually settling for a field goal. The Ravens offense, on the other hand, were moving fluidly with Lamar Jackson at the helm. After a few pass completions, Jackson whipped out a play from the college playbook (QB option) and ran 13-yards for the game’s first touchdown.
I knew it was going to be a long game when the Ravens converted a fake punt on 4th down with ample time left in the second quarter. Punter Sam Koch completed a 21-yard pass to Chris Moore to keep the chains moving (Georgia tried this against Alabama the night before to no avail).
The momentum would swing back to the Falcons after Vic Beasley Jr. recovered a fumble and ran 75-yards for a touchdown. The two teams would go back and forth for the rest of the game, but the difference ended up being the fourth quarter.
With the score 19-10 in the fourth quarter after the Ravens just made a field goal, Matt Ryan came out on first down and was stripped while attempting a pass. Baltimore’s Tavon Young recovered the ball and comfortably took it to the house for the touchdown. As if fumbling on first down in your own red-zone wasn’t bad enough, the worst part about it was the Ravens’ massive touchdown celebration afterward.
The struggles continue for the Falcons as they deal with copious injuries, a one-trick offense (passing), and a weakened defense. Any chance for the playoffs disintegrated with the night’s loss, their fourth in a row by my counts.
Matt Ryan threw 16 of 26 for 131 yards and a touchdown but there was no ground game whatsoever. Ito Smith and Tevin Coleman combined for a total of 30 yards.
“It was tough today because these guys care like they do. I told them, man, this is the biggest challenge we have been in, in a while, certainly since I’ve been here,” said head coach Dan Quinn. “The reality is we have to embrace the hardness we are in and a part of. We’ve got an expectation of how this last quarter of football will go, and that expectation is for us to play well. It’s a challenge that we have to overcome.”
“It hurts,” said Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley. “We work all week to go out there and perform the best we could to win the game, and we couldn’t do it, so it hurts. That’s all we can really say, just have to get ready for next week.”
The Falcons will pack up and get ready for a trip to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers. The game is set for Sunday, Dec. 9, at 1 p.m.
Photo: Hakim Wright