Atlanta Falcons defense leads 23-17 victory over Jaguars


The Atlanta Falcons defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-17, to win for the first time since Week 17.

The Falcons broke their trend of slow starts by scoring a touchdown on their opening drive. Devonta Freeman ran it in, diving into the pylon. The defense then stepped up its game and forced a quick three-and-out to give Atlanta all the momentum.

Dan Quinn tried to maintain this momentum by going for a fake punt, and Eric Weems ran it for a first down, but there was a flag for holding, wiping out the run.

It was a defensive struggle from here on, with both offenses stalling regularly. The Falcons defense, as it has done for much of the season, held its own.

With the Falcons up 14-3 right before the half, Blake Bortles had a chance to pull the game close with the Jaguars first-and-goal from the Atlanta 1-yard line. Bortles was picked off by Kemal Ishmael, who returned it 84 yards with one second remaining. Shayne Graham connected with a 34-yard field goal to make it 17-3.

But the Jaguars fought back in the second half.

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Bortles ran a touchdown in himself to cut the Falcons’ lead, and he then found Allen Robinson for a 10-yard strike to tie it up.

Early in the fourth quarter, Bortles was strip sacked by Philip Wheeler, but the Jaguars were able to recover and maintain possession, resulting in a punt.

Following the punt, the Falcons put together a solid drive but couldn’t find the end zone. Shayne Graham hit a 33-yard field goal to give the Falcons a three-point lead. Graham then hit a 44-yard strike to make it 23-17 with 1:37 remaining of regulation.

Bortles had 89 yards to drive with one timeout. The Falcons defense, so often the best unit on the team, got it done.

And for the first time since Week 7, Matt Ryan was able to kneel it out. The Falcons win.