10 things we learned in the Falcons’ loss to the Ravens

QB Matt Ryan

Atlanta Falcons / Michael Benford
QB Matt Ryan Atlanta Falcons / Michael Benford

ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Falcons (4-8) lost at home to the Baltimore Ravens (7-5) on Sunday in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, 26-16.

The loss was the fourth-straight for the Falcons, who struggled to move the ball on offense and allowed the Ravens to dominate the time of possession. Here are 10 things we learned in the loss.

10. Falcons see both Ravens quarterbacks

Lamar Jackson left the game in the third quarter due to a concussion. Prior to his exit, Jackson completed 11 of his 18 passes for 117 yards and ran the ball nine times for 35 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown. Jackson was replaced by third-string quarterback Robert Griffin III, who primarily handed the ball off upon entering the game and completed just 2 of his 4 passes for 21 yards. Jackson did return to the game in the fourth quarter and finished with 125 passing yards and 75 rushing yards.

9. Differing approaches on fourth down

Early in the second quarter the Falcons faced a fourth-and-1 at the 50-yard line. They handed the ball off to Ito Smith on a dive up the middle, which the Ravens shut down for a 1-yard loss. On the very next drive, the Ravens ran a fake punt on a fourth-and-7 at Atlanta’s 46-yard line. The result was a 21-yard gain on a pass from Sam Koch to Chris Moore for a first down. Two different approaches. Two different outcomes.

8. Penalties kept Falcons’ defense on the field

Atlanta’s defense played well on third down for much of the afternoon, but there were a number of drive-extending penalties on the Falcons. Atlanta allowed Baltimore to extend three separate drives due to third-down penalties. All three were in Falcons’ territory, but the defense allowed just one Ravens’ touchdown on those three extended drives.

7. Welcome back, Deion Jones

Deion Jones is a big addition for this defense. He certainly looked unencumbered by the foot injury that landed him on IR after Week 1. Most noticeable on Sunday was the impact he had on the team’s run defense, and his ability to slip past or shed blockers helped stop some potential big gains. Jones finished with a game-high 15 tackles, a sack and a tackle for a loss.

6. Baltimore was on offense for nearly 40 minutes

The Falcons ran just four plays on offense in the fourth quarter – a three-and-out and one play before the end of the quarter. That three-and-out for the Falcons was sandwiched around a 10-play drive and a 14-play drive by the Ravens which each ended in field goals. Baltimore dominated possession throughout the afternoon, running 77 plays and holding the ball for just over 39 minutes. The Falcons ran just 45 plays and had the ball for about 20 minutes.

5. Vic Beasley gets back in the end zone

Vic Beasley hasn’t put together the most consistently impactful season at defensive end, but he came up with a huge play for the Falcons in the second quarter. After Grady Jarett jarred the ball loose from Lamar Jackson, Beasley picked up the ball and showed off his speed to return the fumble for a 74-yard touchdown. Can Beasley carry that momentum forward for the remainder of the season?

4. Falcons have worst offensive outing of season

Atlanta’s offense could not find much success at all against the NFL’s top defense. The Falcons finished the game with 131 total yards of offense, 75 of which came on their final drive of the game, and they averaged 2.9 yards per play. The offense accounted for 9 of the team’s 16 points.

3. Ravens put game away with defensive touchdown

Baltimore’s defense is the best in the league, so it’s not surprising that they made the play to seal the game for the Ravens. Midway through the fourth quarter, down 19-10, Matt Ryan was sacked at the Falcons’ 17-yard line by Patrick Onwuasor, who knocked the ball loose and recovered the ball for a touchdown. Ryan was sacked three times on Sunday.

2. Falcons just 2-of-9 on third down

Atlanta has statistically been one of the best third-down teams on offense in the NFL, but it’s struggled in that area of late. That continued on Sunday, as the Falcons converted just 2 of their 9 third-down attempts against the Ravens. Baltimore, meanwhile, converted 47 percent of its third-down chances.

1. Falcons can’t stem losing streak

The Falcons likely needed to win out to have any shot at the postseason. This loss today may not mathematically eliminate them from the playoffs, but it does make their chances extremely improbable.

For additional analysis of today's game, check out our in-game live blog below.

The Falcons face the Baltimore Ravens at Mercedes-Benz Stadium this Sunday afternoon. Get your inside look here.

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