Falcons start strong, fall apart in 4th quarter of loss to Saints

The Atlanta Falcons got off to the kind of start that fans dream about in their Week 1 matchup against the New Orleans Saints, but despite leading by 16 points in the fourth quarter, the Saints came roaring back to pull off a 27-26 upset.

Atlanta’s defensive line ferociously got after Saints QB Jameis Winston for three quarters, and while Cordarrelle Patterson racked up 136 all-purpose yards, it’s another devastating loss for fans to try and stomach.

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Here are six takeaways from Sunday’s game.

Defense dominates, collapses

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The late collapse puts a major damper on what would have been an encouraging game from all three levels of the defense. The Falcons recorded four sacks and eight QB hits. While Jameis Winston was able to put up numbers in garbage time, for the majority of the game, Atlanta had his number. When it mattered, the Falcons just get couldn’t stops, though.

Marcus Mariota starts strong, finishes slow

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Mariota was hot early on but his inability to get the offense going late in the game took away from what would have been a stellar debut. He completed 20 of 33 passes for 215 yards, and rushed for 72 yards and a touchdown. Still, Mariota fumbled twice (recovering once) and couldn’t make a play when the team really needed it. It was an up-and-down debut for Super Mario.



(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Falcons first-round pick Drake London finished the game with five receptions for 74 receiving yards. The rookie was targeted seven times by Mariota in Week 1. Second-round pick Arnold Ebiketie recorded one of the team’s four sacks. Atlanta chose not to play third-round pick DeAngelo Malone or fifth-round pick Tyler Allgeier for some reason.

Cordarrelle Patterson picks up where he left off

(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Patterson is one player who deserves zero blame for Sunday’s heartbreaking loss. Many predicted the kick returner-turned-running back to have a down year after his breakout 2021 campaign. Patterson quieted his doubters quickly, racking up 120 rushing yards and a touchdown. He also added three catches for 16 receiving yards.



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Cornerback Casey Hayward left the field with what looked like an eye injury in the fourth quarter, but would return in time for the Saints game-winning drive. Falcons RB Damien Williams went down in the first half with a rib injury. Williams also was able to return to the field in the second half. Health is one bright spot on this team, if you really need one.

What's next for Atlanta?

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The Falcons will be hitting the road to take on the defending Super Bowl champions in Week 2. The Rams were embarrassed by the Bills in Week 1 and will be looking to get back on track. Fortunately, Atlanta is no stranger to embarrassment and the team is coming off one of its classic fourth-quarter meltdowns. But hey, there’s always Week 3.

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Story originally appeared on Falcons Wire