The Atlanta Falcons lost to the Washington Commanders 19-13 in ugly fashion driving the ball late inside the ten-yard line with a chance to score what likely would have been the game-winning touchdown. With under a minute to go, however, the Falcons made the decision to allow Mariota to attempt a pass that was tipped and intercepted ending Atlanta’s drive and comeback attempt.
Let’s be clear here Mariota deserves blame for the interception and the consistent turnovers that he has created this season. However, Mariota wasn’t the problem in this game or on the final drive delivering a nice pass to Olamide and helping keep the run game going.
Having the ball inside the ten and getting there by running the football and leaning on your running backs would give most thought that the obvious move was to run the football and at worst keep the clock moving and have third and short around the goal line. In the best-case scenario, Atlanta takes the lead and Washington has to drive in field goal range in under a minute without a timeout with a kicker who already missed an extra point.
Despite this poor decision, the Falcons had another chance to get the ball back calling three timeouts after stopping three straight runs from Washington after the turnover. Instead, Atlanta attempted to block the punt running into the punter and giving Washington the first down and the victory in a game that was in Atlanta’s hands.
This game lands squarely on the shoulders of an Atlanta coaching staff that has been great all season long. A coaching staff that has made it clear their identity is running the football and making opportunistic plays on defense. Deciding to stray from what this offense does best when the game was on the line and Huntley, Patterson, Mariota, and Allgeier were all having success running the football speaks to the fact that this Atlanta team is still a young team. One who has far too many shortcomings to win games if the decision-making isn’t perfect and on Sunday Arthur Smith made a critical error that cost Atlanta what should have been a game-winning drive.