The Falcons offense struggled finding any momentum in Sunday's loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Pitts not playing due to injury, the offensive production relied heavily upon young players Drake London, Tyler Allgeier, and Caleb Huntley to step up against a veteran Buccaneers defensive unit.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota was sacked five times on Sunday compared to the seven times he was sacked through the first four games. Pressure from Tampa Bay's defensive front swarmed Mariota on several plays, causing multiple three-and-outs for the Falcons offense.
"It's a tough defense, you have to give them credit," Mariota said. "They've been causing havoc through the first four weeks of the season and we knew we had a challenge in front of us, but our guys didn't flinch at all. We understand that sometimes you have to be patient, especially with what we do on offense."
Through the first two quarters, the Falcons offense accumulated a total of 89 net yards on 27 plays compared to the Buccaneers 297 total net yards on 44 plays. Mariota finished with 52 passing yards completing 5-for-14 passes, which was his lowest total amount of passing yards in a first half through the first five games of this season.
Not to mention, third down efficiency hurt the Falcons in more ways than one, going 3-for-7 on 42.9 percent in the first two quarters. Mariota mentioned not capitalizing on first and second downs is what hurt the Falcons offensively on Sunday.
"We got to be better on first and second down. I think through the course of the game we had 10 third and longs or something like that, but for any offense that's tough," he said. "Being able to be better on first and second down, create rhythm, move the chains, that's when this offense starts to get going. If we can do a better job on first and second down, I think we'll find ways to improve."
Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during Week 5.
It was tough for the offense to establish any flow until late in the game. Crucial penalties also stifled Atlanta's offense. The Falcons rushing attack did find ways to make plays with Mariota leading the charge, rushing for 61 yards on seven carries. Rookie running back Tyler Allgeier finished with 45 yards on 13 carries.
Overall, the Falcons rushed for 151 yards with Avery Williams delivering the team's first touchdown early in the fourth quarter. This is the fourth time this season the Falcons eclipsed more than 150 rushing yards.
After going on a 12-play 70-yard drive late in the fourth quarter, Mariota connected with Olamide Zaccheaus for a 19-yard touchdown pass, followed up by a two-point conversion reception from KhaDarel Hodge that trimmed Tampa Bay's lead to six. Making late game comebacks has been the tale of their season, Mariota said.
Yet, the fourth quarter surge wasn't enough to pull out the win against the Buccaneers. When the Falcons find ways to make plays early in the game, the offense proves to be more efficient which was shown against the Seahawks and Browns. Not having costly penalties and maintaining consistency for this Falcons offense will be vital moving forward.
"At times for us, we were just kind of getting in our own way," Mariota said. "I think when we were able to come in halftime and make some adjustments, guys kind of flew around and made some plays and as you get going and you get in a rhythm, that's when this offense plays well.
"We got to be able to start better and get in a rhythm earlier so that we're not in these deep holes when we get in the fourth quarter."