Atlanta Falcons at Tennessee Titans: Winners and Losers from the Week 8 Game

If there was a game MVP for this one, it would have been K Younghoe Koo again.
Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

The Atlanta Falcons lost to the Tennessee Titans and it was a compilation of injuries poor performance and a failed comeback to cause this loss. They looked to have found some footing in the second half, but it was too little, too late. The Falcons had a lot of injuries in this one and that was a big piece of what was killing the defense and helped the Titans score 28 points. They scored two touchdowns with Taylor Heinicke leading the charge in the fourth quarter, but were completely unable to capitalize for a comeback win on a fourth quarter drive.

Winner: K Younghoe Koo

The Falcons kicker is their best offensive weapon. For another week, Younghoe Koo had a perfect game with two extra points and three field goals all sent right down the middle. He's shown that he's one of the best kickers in the league and is currently the Falcons best scoring option on offense. Atlanta needs to figure out a way to get him to kick more extra points and less field goals, though. As fun as it is to have a kicker go 3-for-3 on field goals every week, it'd be much better for the team if he was 2-for-2 on field goals and 4-for-4 on extra points.

Loser: PR Mike Hughes

Mike Hughes has shown that he's a terrible punt returner for the Falcons. The most successful field position the team had after punts was when he would let the ball go into the end zone. The Falcons need to make a change at the position, and Hughes shouldn't be an option back there anymore. The best thing the Falcons could do is either have Scotty Miller back there or go back to their original plan of having Dee Alford back there.

Winner: Run defense as a whole

Yes, the Titans ran for 149 yards on 36 carries against the Falcons defense. However, they still didn't allow a touchdown and were able to get key stops in the fourth quarter to get the offense back on the field. If you take out the two long runs for 14 yards and 23 yards by Derrick Henry and Tyjae Spears, the Falcons only allowed just 3.3 yards per carry on the day. They were doing a great job of forcing Will Levis to pass the ball and eventually, get off the field.

Loser: Injuries all over the roster

Starting defensive tackle Grady Jarrett was knocked out with a knee injury early in the game. That hurt the morale of the defense a lot. They also lost linebacker Kaden Ellis for a couple snaps. They also lost defensive tackle LaCale London for a couple of series. The defense got banged up in the one game they couldn't afford to get banged up in. They also had wide receiver Drake London and fullback Keith Smith go out with injuries in the second half of the game. Starting quarterback Desmond Ridder also was held out the second half due to a possible concussion. The injury bug had been avoiding Atlanta to this point, but it looks like it's finally come to the ATL.

Winner: WR Drake London

Drake London has been on a hot streak the last few games and that continued through two-and-a-half quarters for the Falcons with his five catches on seven targets for 55 yards. London went down with an injury early in the second half, but he was pacing yet another good game. The Falcons have a No. 1 receiver in London, but they need to get him healthy moving forward so he can continue to be the No. 1 guy in the passing offense.

Loser: QB Taylor Heinicke

Yes, the offense moved better with Taylor Heinicke running the show during the third and fourth quarters. And Heinicke was making his decisions quicker than Desmond Ridder was in the first half. However, his throws were not exactly on target, and he was bailed out quite a bit by great catches from the wide receivers, whether on the Mack Hollins 20-yard catch or Van Jefferson making a ridiculous 11 yard catch on a 3rd-and-10. Or KhaDarel Hodge taking a 16-yard completion 52 yards down field after the catch. He still finished 12-for-21 (57 percent), for 175 yards and a touchdown.

He did play turnover-free ball and got sacked just one time. That is two-fold as to why he didn't get sacked as much and performed better on the surface. First part of it is that teams don't tend to blitz as much when they're up by two-to-three touchdowns. The second part of it is that they will tend to run simple coverage shells like cover 3 and cover 4 against a team they have a big lead against. Heinicke performed well in what was essentially garbage time. And when it came time to be clutch, he stopped short of a first down on a scramble and missed a wide open receiver on a throw.

Winner: WR KhaDarel Hodge

Falcons wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge has been a bit of an afterthought in the Falcons passing offense. However, against the Titans, Hodge was able to take his afterthought status and found an open hole in the zone. Hodge took that throw down the field 52 yards because of an excellent run after the catch. Hodge finished the game with three catches on three targets for 75 yards and that explosive play was what led to a score for the Falcons offense.

Loser: QB Desmond Ridder

From a statistical perspective, Desmond Ridder had a very solid game going 8-for-12 (67 percent) for 71 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. He had a fumble, but that was more of a good defensive play than him not securing the ball. He also had three carries for 26 yards to give the Falcons a semblance of a running game in the first half. He also was sacked five times in the first half and apparently took a shot that might have caused a concussion that forced him out of the second half of the game.

Winner: Run Blocking

The Falcons had a rought time creating a running game in the first half and were not able to open holes for Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier or Cordarrelle Patterson. In the second half, however, they created a couple of big runs that helped the team get into the end zone including a 25-yard and 13-yard carry for Robinson that boosted the rushing average above 5.0 on the day. They need to continue some of the schemes they were running in the second half. Those were the bread and butter outside zone, motioning a player to help figure out what hole will be open and trap tosses. If they can continue to do this moving forward, the passing offense should be helped by a better running game.

Loser: RT Kaleb McGary

The Falcons allowed six quarterback sacks and nine quarterback hits. The vast majority of the pressure was coming from the right side and specifically Kaleb McGary. Out of the six sacks allowed, multiple of them were because he was beat by his guy early. McGary has never progressed as a pass protector from his rookie year. If Arthur Smith wants to be serious about improving the passing offense, he needs to bench McGary and put Storm Norton in there so that the pass protection improves.

Winner: RB Bijan Robinson

Bijan Robinson was healthy for this game and while he was rough as a receiver not catching a single one of his five targets, he was excellent on the ground taking his 11 carries for 62 yards and scoring the first touchdown on the ground of his career. Bijan has a lot of work to do in the passing game before he's really a reliable option against blitzes, but he has shown that he's a good running back early in his career. The Falcons need to help him get his drops under control, too. He had three drops in this one.

Ultimate Loser: S Richie Grant

The main reason the Falcons lost wasn't because of a poor offense. For the first time this year, the defense did it's job outside of four drives. But those four drives had three busted coverages and one missed egregious offensive pass interference call. The main culprit on two of the three busted coverages was starting safety Richie Grant. He was beat in a cover-2 call versus DeAndre Hopkins on Hopkins third touchdown and missed covering his underneath zone on Hopkins second touchdown. The Falcons need him to play well and within his role, because he seems to blow coverages when he's trying to do too much and just seems out of it with some of his responsibilities on zone calls.

All advanced stats are courtesy Pro Football Focus or Football Outsiders. All traditional stats are courtesy of official team websites, NFLGSIS or CFB Stats. All RAS and athletic testing numbers are courtesy of and Kent Lee Platte's RAS Football website.