ATLANTA – The Falcons found themselves in a close contest Sunday against Washington, as they were a week prior against New York.
They came back late to beat the Giants.
They had a late lead against Washington and lost it.
They lost 34-30 on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
This one was drama-filled, with plenty of back-and-forth between two teams trying to reach .500.
Let's go over three gut reactions from Sunday's result:
Losing late lead tough to take
The Falcons were up eight points in later stages of the fourth quarter.
That lead evaporated in the final four minutes. They simply couldn't close out a win.
That's a fact despite being up eight and causing a failed 2-point conversion. The Falcons went three-and-out between Washington's late touchdown drives, unable to take time off the clock.
Former Falcon J.D. McKissic sealed a difficult defeat with a 30-yard touchdown catch and run into the end zone with 33 seconds remaining.
It offered stark contrast to how the previous game ended, with the Falcons offense and defense alike performing well in the clutch.
They coughed it up late, and it killed the team's opportunity to establish a winning streak and positive momentum after a sluggish 0-2 start. These types of losses will upset head coach Arthur Smith and his staff about an opportunity missed. Wins are hard to come by in this league, and the Falcons will certainly feel like they let one get away.
Mistake volume (still) too high
The Falcons squandered a halftime lead in a matter of seconds, the length of time it took Washington kickoff returner DeAndre Carter to go 101 yards for a touchdown.
The Falcons got inside the Washington 5-yard line on their first offensive series, only to have the play nullified by a Jalen Mayfield holding call. The Falcons never got past that mark and ended up settling for a field goal.
Receivers dropped a ton of passes throughout this game, in addition to several deep passes Calvin Ridley seemed to have in his grasp that didn't survive the ground.
Dante Fowler was also offside on a critical 2-point conversion that failed, but the flag provided a second chance Washington couldn't capitalize upon. Still, though, those are the types of mistakes that can get you beat. They were lucky it wasn't costly in this instance.
Mistakes didn't completely cost them against Washington. A controversial incomplete pass ruling that was made on the decisive drive, on a play that looked like a fumble, also played a huge role.
Here's my larger point: This volume hurts here; it will also prove fatal against better teams. While they've got the Jets next, there's quality competition on the schedule that will feed on every little miscue. Without that kickoff return, the Falcons take firm control of this game. That unacceptable play kept it close down the stretch.
Look, we saw improvement overall in minimizing miscues, but they still have a ways to go in that regard.
If they want to remain competitive over the course of the season, they have to tighten things up and play more complete games.
Patterson thrives in role as Falcons weapon
Cordarrelle Patterson is playing his ninth NFL season, representing his fifth organization. It isn't a hot take to say he's making the most profound offensive impact of his career. It's also not recency bias after he scored three touchdowns against Washington.
Patterson has been a dynamic and consistent producer during this early season. While he's a running back now, we should simply call him an offensive weapon who lines up in several spots and just makes plays.
Washington couldn't cover him in the passing game. They lost track of him in the first half for a long touchdown. He took a short pass and worked his way into the end zone. Then he gave the Falcons another score early in the third quarter.
While he hasn't been an efficient rusher lately, Smith has found mismatches that make him impactful as a receiver. He's the type of weapon that's hard to handle with Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts in the pattern, someone who can be dynamic when receiving the ball in space. He has also been a crucial red zone asset that helped against Washington and should continue to do so moving forward.
Call for questions
This seems like a perfect to fill up the mailbag with your reactions, concerns and questions following Sunday's game against Washington. Submit them right here for possible inclusion in Monday's Bair Mail.
Falcons Final Whistle | A Postgame Podcast
Break down the hottest topics surrounding the Atlanta Falcons and how they can impact the team's success with Falcons Insiders Scott Bair, Tori McElhaney and Terrin Waack. Like and subscribe to join us for the lively debate on Falcons Final Whistle.
Welcome to Falcons Final Whistle – an Atlanta Falcons football postgame podcast during the season that shifts gears in the offseason to answer a pressing question about the team's future each week through free agency, the NFL Draft and the offseason program.