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Falcons run game struggles to get going in Commanders loss

The Falcons finished with 106 net rushing yards -- their third-lowest production -- in the Week 6 loss to the Commanders. 

ATLANTA — Challenge accepted, but ultimately lost.

A major obstacle the Atlanta Falcons' run game faced in Sunday's 24-16 loss came unsurprisingly from the Washington Commanders' defensive front. The Commanders had Montez Sweat, Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen and Chase Young all in action. Each one of them is a former first-round draft pick.

"They're four of the best players in the NFL," Falcons right guard Chris Lindstrom said. "Obviously they have a lot of talented guys. But that's our identity, (being able to run the ball). We have to be able to make adjustments."

The Falcons' 106 yards rushing was their third-lowest ground production through six games.

That number would have been lower had Atlanta not made adjustments, like Lindstrom noted, which it must have during halftime because there was an uptick in performance. The Falcons' rush count broke up into nine carries for 25 yards in the first half and 20 carries for 81 yards in the second half. Their average pickup per run went from 2.8 to 4.1 between the two halves.

"It was just a really stout defense," Falcons running back Tyler Allgeier said. "Obviously they have a game plan and some of their things worked, but we were able to gash them in the second half. I think those opportunities ended up arising."

Allgeier finished with a team-high 13 carries for 51 yards. He was 4-for-9 and 9-for-42 in the first and second halves, respectively.

Running back Bijan Robinson, meanwhile, had 13 carries for 37 yards total. He was 5-for-16 before halftime and 13-for-37 afterward.

So, there was an improvement over time. But clearly not enough.

"They penetrated," Robinson said. "They got a lot of guys in the box, ready to stop the run. But it doesn't matter how many guys are in the box. We got to come up with a plan to get past it because that's what we do: We run the ball to pass the ball. That's our bread and butter."

Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder completed 28 of his 47 passes for 307 yards. He threw two touchdowns and three interceptions. His three sacks for a loss of 11 yards brought Atlanta down to 296 net yards passing.

The overall mark is the Falcons' second-best this season.

"I think we moved the ball pretty good through the air," Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said. "We're going to continue to evolve. We didn't stop running it. If they want to pack in there, which everyone is doing, you got to prove you can throw it away. … It's give and take. Why force 45 runs when you have other ways to move it? That's why you want to be balanced."

And that's what the Falcons are working toward: a better balance.

Soon, as Atlanta drops to a .500 record at 3-3. The Falcons will now travel for back-to-back weeks, first to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then the Tennessee Titans. Atlanta is 0-2 on the road. Sunday was the Falcons' first home loss.

"It hurts us," Allgeier said. "I think losing in general just sucks. The good thing is, we'll be able to come back (Monday), go over the film and just correct everything. Correct the goods, correct the bads. Then, we'll be ready for the Bucs."

Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Washington Commanders during Week 6.

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