The Atlanta Falcons are now 4-5 on the season following Sunday’s 31-28 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Even though the Vikings lost their starting quarterback in the first quarter, the Falcons couldn’t stop Minnesota when it mattered most.
Atlanta’s offense turned the ball over twice, and it’s clear this team has a lot to figure out after losing five of seven games. Here are 10 takeaways from Sunday’s NFC showdown in Atlanta.
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What's next for Atlanta?
In Week 10, the Falcons will head to Arizona to take on the Cardinals. Quarterback Kyler Murray has a good chance to make his regular-season debut. The Cardinals are 1-8 after getting shut out by the Browns in Week 9. If the Falcons can’t bounce back with a win next weekend, Arthur Smith’s seat could begin to heat up.
Defense can't stop Vikings on final drive
The Falcons just couldn’t get the critical stop in this game and it had a lot to do with the inability to tackle Vikings QB Josh Dobbs. After taking a 28-24 lead late in the fourth, Atlanta’s defense had multiple chances to get off the field on Minnesota’s final drive. Dobbs broke loose on a fourth-down scramble to put the Vikings in position to win. The veteran QB then connected with Brandon Powell with 22 seconds left to take a 31-28 lead.
Koo remains the bright spot on this Falcons team. If Atlanta had gotten into field-goal range, Koo would have potentially tied the game in the fourth quarter. The Falcons kicker converted on all four of his field goals, including a 54-yarder. Koo’s consistency has kept the team afloat all season.
Not enough Bijan?
Robinson continues to post impressive averages, but the team really seems committed to splitting carries with Tyler Allgeier in recent weeks. To Allgeier’s credit, he did come through with a big touchdown and a couple of clutch runs late. Still, Robinson carried the ball just 11 times for 51 yards in a close game. Perhaps the rookie is banged up and head coach Arthur Smith is simply trying to preserve him, but you’d like to see him be a little more involved as the No. 8 overall pick.
The Falcons offense was slightly more efficient with Heinicke under center, but the team still committed two costly turnovers. Rookie Bijan Robinson lost a fumble that led to a quick Vikings touchdown and then Heinicke threw his first interception of the season later in the second half. Even though the Vikings also committed multiple turnovers, theirs weren’t as costly.
Falcons' first halftime lead of the season
Atlanta’s 11-10 first-half lead was the first time the team has led at halftime all season. The Falcons defense may have come up short late in the game, but this stat really highlights how bad the offense has been this year. Taylor Heinicke was a slight upgrade, however, there’s still plenty of room for improvement on this Falcons offense after nine games.
Calais Campbell records safety
Falcons veteran defensive lineman Calais Campbell came up with a safety on Vikings QB Josh Dobbs’ first drive. Atlanta forced two turnovers on the day, and the defense was playing good football in the first half. Unfortunately, there are two halves in a football game.
Dobbs comes in, changes game
Josh Dobbs didn’t take a single rep in practice this week and he was not expected to play in Week 9 after being traded from the Cardinals. However, an injury to Vikings rookie QB Jaren Hall in the first quarter forced Dobbs into action and it was Atlanta’s worst nightmare. Dobbs passed for 158 yards and two touchdowns and added another 66 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Heinicke got the start for Desmond Ridder and while he was a slight upgrade — passing for 268 yards, one touchdown and one interception — the offense still didn’t seem to click. I don’t think there’s any reason to go back to Ridder, but Heinicke was far from perfect. He underthrew a ball that led to his lone interception. Overall, it was a decent start from the veteran QB.