Takeaways: Drake London has career day in Falcons’ loss to Steelers

The Atlanta Falcons suffered their eighth loss of the season following quarterback Marcus Mariota’s interception fourth-quarter interception against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Penalties and a lack of offensive production were ultimately too much for the Falcons to overcome.  Here are five takeaways from Sunday’s 19-16 loss to Pittsburgh.

Marcus Mariota's late INT ends comeback attempt

(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

The Falcons came out throwing the ball in this one, and it led to them trialing by 10 at halftime to a rookie quarterback. Mariota had the critical interception to end the game and he was inaccurate on deep throws for the majority of the game. While he was more aggressive than normal, Mariota finished 13-of-24 with 167 passing yards, one touchdown and an interception. This could be a good chance for the team to make the switch to rookie Desmond Ridder with an extra week to prepare for the Saints.

Slow start for ground game

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Atlanta got behind early and chose to go away from the run. In the first half, the Falcons rushed just six times for 28 yards in the first half, while attempting 16 pass attempts. They figured things out in the second half, but it was too little, too late. Cordarrelle Patterson rushed for 60 yards on 11 carries. Tyler Allgeier went for 52 yards on 10 attempts. Mariota and Caleb Huntley each added 17 yards. Pittsburgh just slightly out-rushed Atlanta, 154-146, for the game.

Drake London's big day

(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

London was the focal point of the offense on Sunday, racking up four catches for 72 yards in the first half alone. Atlanta’s first-round pick finished the game with six catches for a career-best 95 receiving yards (15.8 yards per reception) on 11 targets. If Mariota had been a little more accurate downfield, London would have gone well over the 100-yard mark for the first time in his NFL career. Nonetheless, it was encouraging outing for the Falcons’ first-round pick.

Penalties in key moments

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Atlanta entered Week 13 as the least penalized team in the NFL, but the team committed six on Sunday. The timing of these penalties hurt the Falcons more than anything. A holding call on tight end Parker Hesse took a touchdown run by Cordarrelle Patterson off the board. Left tackle Jake Matthews had two false start penalties, including one in the red zone. Without these mistakes, the Falcons would have taken the lead in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, but they instead settled for a field goal.

What's next for Atlanta?

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The Falcons have a bye in Week 14, which should allow the team to get healthy for the final stretch of the season. In Week 16, the Saints in New Orleans. We don’t have to go over what happened in the Falcons’ Week 1 loss to the Saints, but they’ll have to play better for all quarters if they want to avoid dropping their ninth game of the year.

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Story originally appeared on Falcons Wire