The Falcons’ offense was stuffed in a partially-filled Mercedes-Benz Stadium by the Ravens’ top-ranked defense on the way to their fourth consecutive loss.
The Ravens, with a rookie quarterback, plastered the Falcons 26-16 on Sunday.
The Falcons could only muster 34 yards rushing and didn’t have over 100 yards passing until midway through the fourth quarter.
“We new it was going to be tough sledding,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. “They are a very good defense with a scheme that is relentless.”
The Falcons were out-gained 366 yards to 131 yards. It was their lowest output since being held to 105 yards by the 49ers in a 26-7 loss on Dec. 12, 1999.
“They continued to pressure us throughout the day,” Ryan said. “They did a nice job of it. We knew they were going to do it. We had a plan for it and we did not execute our plan.”
For the fourth game in a row, the Falcons were held under 20 points. Until a late offensive touchdown, the Falcons were in danger of not scoring an offensive touchdown for the first time since losing 14-9 to the Vikings last season on Dec. 3, 2017 in Week 13.
The Falcons dropped to 4-8 on the season and to last place in the NFC South. The Buccaneers improved to 5-7 with a win over the Panthers.
The Ravens improved to 7-5 and completed the AFC North’s sweep of the Falcons this season.
The major task for Falcons coach Dan Quinn is keeping the team together over the final quarter of the season.
“The guys are sick and pissed and disappointed, disbelief, frustrated; all the things that (you feel) when you don’t play like you’re capable of,” Quinn said. “Those emotions are real because you care a lot.”
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, making this third career starter, completed 12 of 21 passes for 125 yards and had a passer rating of 74.5. He rushed 17 times for 75 yards and a touchdown.
Ryan, with no rushing attack, completed 16 of 26 passes for 131 yards and one touchdown. He finished with a passer rating of 87.2.
The total was the lowest of Ryan’s career when he’s played he full game. He passed for 15 yards in a loss to the Buccaneers in 2009 when he was injured and left early in the contest. He passed for 106 yards against Tampa Bay in a regular-season finale in which coach Mike Smith pulled the starters in 2011.
The Ravens pounded the ball at the Falcons’ smallish defense 49 times for 207 yards rushing and enjoyed a 39:39 to 20:21 time of possession advantage.
Here are five things we learned from the loss:
1. Penalties costly for the Falcons: The Falcons had three key penalties that helped to keep Ravens’ scoring drives alive.
An illegal hands to the face penalty in the first quarter by linebacker Deion Jones, a pass interference on Sharrod Neasman and a too many men on the field call in the third quarter led to a touchdown and two field goals.
On the 12 men on the field penalty, safety Jordan Richards was trying to run off the field.
“I think we had three on defense that ended up being some drives that got extended,” Quinn said. “I'll have to go back and look at them and see why. The one for Neasman, I can see, it looked like a foul down from my viewpoint. I asked on the couple others, what did he see ... but for sure on the third downs, that's huge.”
2. Beadles get the start: The offensive line, which has struggled this season, unveiled a new starter against the Ravens.
Zane Beadles opened the game at right guard for Ben Garland.
The line didn’t perform much better as Ryan was sacked three times and hit seven times. The running game remained weak and the Falcons couldn’t get any push on a run on a failed fourth-and-1 situation.
On the run by running back Ito Smith, left guard Wes Schweitzer, center Alex Mack and right guard Garland were all pushed into the backfield.
“It was great to be back out there,” Beadles said. “Had a lot of fun. It’s been a while since I’ve been out there in a game, so that was exciting today...Bottom line, as a team, we didn’t get it done today. That is really what matters.”
3. The return of Jones: On the Ravens fourth play from scrimmage, Ravens running back Kenny Dixon had blockers in front of him and appeared to have room to run, but Jones knifed through the blockers and dropped him for a 5-yard gain.
Later in the opening drive, on third-and-15 from the 23, Jones was called for grabbing the facemask of Raven’s wide receiver Willie Snead IV to give the Ravens a first down when the Falcons had registered a stop.
Jackson scored on the next play, on a 13-yard option run around right end. He broke tackle attempts from free safety Damontae Kazee and linebacker Foye Oluokun.
Later, Jones made the tackle on a screen play that appeared set to break wide open.
He had 15 tackles, one tackle for a loss late and sack.
“We did the best we could,” Jones said. “We fought.”
Jones has been out since the season-opener with a broken foot.
4. Beasley breaks loose: With the Falcons trailing 7-3 in the second quarter, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett knocked the ball from Jackson. Vic Beasley scooped up the fumble, the former high school running back made a nifty move to get outside and raced down the right sideline for a 74-yard touchdown.
Beasley picked up blocks from Jones, Brian Poole and Takk McKinley on the run.
5. Stopping Jackson: Jackson, who had a rushing touchdown and set up three field goals, left the game to be evaluated for a concussion in the third quarter. Robert Griffin III came on to play for Jackson, who returned in the fourth quarter.
The rookie quarterback from Louisville played as advertised. He was a strong runner and shaky passer. He also didn’t take good care of the football as he had three fumbles and some bobbled hand-offs.
“He's tough,” Jones said. “He's a little faster than most we've faced. He's a good kid. He was flying around and doing what he had to do.”