ATLANTA -- The Falcons lost a tough one at Tampa Bay last week, a result that was mired in controversy after a questionable roughing-the-passer call.
Head coach Arthur Smith's messaging was clear all week, that the Falcons were looking forward, not back at a influencing flag. It was received by his team, which came ready to play against a top 49ers team.
They brought a top effort to a Week 6 affair at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, putting together their most complete game of the season in a 28-14 victory over the 49ers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The run game was rocking, the defense took the ball away thrice (and scored once) and stood tall in the games' waning moments.
Oh, and Marcus Mariota had his best game as a Falcons by far.
That led to a statement win that brings the Falcons back to .500 entering an important game at Cincinnati.
Let's take a look at what stood out for the Falcons in this result:
Marcus Mariota at his very best
Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota threw an incomplete pass on third down, with 10 minutes, 52 second left in the fourth quarter. It was his first incompletion of the day. True story.
He was that good against the 49ers, both running and throwing the football. He spread the ball around. He was accurate and effective. He made smart choices running the football and decided to buy more time in the pocket.
All in all, Mariota was at his very best in this game. His performance was vital, a real highlight, in this contest. There were no major errors on offense, preventing a major comeback attempt in this one. They took and a great deal and didn't give anything away, which allowed them to keep churning out yards and point while making the 49ers do the same thing the hard way.
Kyle Pitts scores!!!
Fantasy football players everywhere, rejoice. Kyle Pitts scored a touchdown. It was his first of the season, the second of his career and the first on American soil. And, no, his Pro Bowl touchdown doesn't count. It definitely doesn't for Pitts, who was pumped to put the Falcons up two scores with his seven-yard touchdown reception.
While we're obviously having fun with this big moment, Pitts was a welcome sight for the Falcons offense. He missed the Buccaneers loss with a hamstring injury, a game that proved defenses cover the Falcons differently without No. 8 in the lineup. His presence opens up opportunities for others, who cashed in against the 49ers. That doesn't mean Pitts wasn't targeted much. He was effective when the ball came his way and either scored or extended drives with important receptions.
Run game leads offensive push
The Falcons are a running team, often with a bias toward the ground game. There's nothing wrong with that, considering how impactful the Falcons are running the football. That includes quarterback Marcus Mariota, who can really move and kept drives alive with his legs.
They were efficient and impactful against a top 49ers run defense, which was admittedly hampered by injuries to key members of its defensive front. Mariota still made it all go, with smart runs and an strong play throwing the football when required. It wasn't required much in the early going, when the Falcons had double the amount of runs to passes. There's nothing wrong with that when the ground game is going so well.
The 49ers put so much manpower behind it that it benefitted the passing game. When the Falcons chose to throw, they were connecting on big play after big play. And don't forget that all this was done without Cordarrelle Patterson in the lineup. They're still moving the ball effectively with Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley has primary ball carriers.
Call for questions
Submit your questions right here for inclusion in Monday's edition of Bair Mail.
Sundays In Atlanta, GA Reserved For Dirty Birds
Doesn't get better than a Falcons Sunday in the city! Shop the Kickoff Collection today online or in-store at Atlantic Station.
Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the San Francisco 49ers during Week 6.