A successful game plan starts at the line of scrimmage and the Atlanta Falcons (2-1) looked completely outplayed and outmatched during the 20-6 loss to the Detroit Lions (2-1) on Sunday afternoon.
After a couple of solid performances at home to open the season, the Falcons went on the road for the first time in 2023 and failed to reach the end zone despite averaging 24.5 pts/gm through the first two weeks.
The Falcons only made one appearance in the red zone on Sunday and barely made their way past mid-field during the majority of the contest. Desmond Ridder finished the game 21 of 38 for 201 yards and a fumble, with an underwhelming average of 3.1 yards per pass. Bijan Robinson, after starting the season strong with 255 yards coming into week three, tallied only 33 yards on the ground off of 10 carries and added four catches for 27 yards to lead the Falcons offense.
Despite some flashes of big-play ability with deep completions to Drake London and Kyle Pitts early in the first half, the Falcons offense had difficulty getting into any kind of rhythm as multiple drives failed to result in points being put on the board. In addition, the Falcons were unable to take advantage of the ten Lions penalties that added up to 119 yards.
One of the reasons the Falcons struggled to move the ball was based on the aggressiveness of the Lions defensive front. Led by second-year standout DE Aidan Hutchinson, the Lions defense consistently put pressure on Ridder to the tune of seven sacks which knocked 62 yards off the Falcons offensive output for the day. The Lions had only one sack on the season heading into this week.
One glaring deficiency with the Falcons defense came with the lack of pass rush, an area that was thought to have been improved with some of the offseason moves. The Lions were already missing starting OT Taylor Decker for the second straight game and lost OT Matt Nelson and OT Dan Skipper to injury during the game. Even with a patchwork offensive line for the Lions, Lions QB Jared Goff seemingly had all day to throw the ball despite taking a few hits.
The team total for Atlanta was 183 yards of offense compared to the 358 yards put up by Detroit. Very rarely will 183 yards of total offense lead to many wins in the NFL these days.
Jared Goff 22 of 33 for 243 yards with one touchdown and one interception, the interception to Jesse Bates being one of the highlights for the Falcons despite the lackluster defensive performance. With David Montgomery out due to injury, rookie Jahmyr Gibbs, the second running back taken in the 2023 Draft after Robinson, ran 17 times for 80 yards. Amon-Ra St. Brown finished with nine catches for 102 yards and rookie TE Sam LaPorta added eight grabs for 84 yards with one wide-open 45-yard touchdown.
The Falcons will have a week to figure things out before they head to London for a matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars next Sunday morning. Jacksonville struggled Sunday as well, getting knocked around by Houston to the tune of 37-17. This will be the first third time the Falcons have traveled across the pond, most recently was a Week 5 victory over the Jets in 2021.
Coverage for the Falcons vs. Jaguars from Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday, Oct. 1st begins at 6:00 AM right here on 92.9 The Game.