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Week 8: What happened in Falcons road loss to Titans

The Falcons move to 4-4 on the season after their Week 8 work in Tennessee.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A fourth-quarter comeback slipped through Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Van Jefferson's hands and solidified the Tennessee Titans' 28-23 victory Sunday at Nissan Stadium

Below is how every game recap this 2023 season will be broken down by quarter for right-at-the-buzzer consumption, starting with a note that Atlanta won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. Tennessee's ball to start.


The Falcons defense came to play. The Titans kicked things off, but four plays in, Tennessee quarterback Malik Willis fumbled a high snap and Atlanta defensive lineman Calais Campbell recovered the loose ball.

Atlanta's offense took over at the Tennessee 28-yard line. The Falcons made it to the 7-yard line but fell short of a touchdown. Kicker Younghoe Koo made a 29-yard field goal to put the Falcons on the board, though.

(NOTE: Falcons defensive lineman Grady Jarrett got injured, and was designated questionable to return with a knee injury.)

The Titans were able to pull ahead when quarterback Will Levis found wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins deep downfield for a 47-yard touchdown pass. Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell was in coverage.

With Titans starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill inactive due to an ankle injury, Tennessee worked both Levis and Willis early. Levis got the start and completed six of his seven passes for 67 yards and the touchdown in the first quarter. He also ran once for 3 yards. Willis didn't record any passing stats but had one carry for no gain.

Scoring plays:

Falcons: Younghoe Koo 29-yard field goal … 3-0, ATL

Titans: Will Levis 47-yard pass to DeAndre Hopkins; Nick Folk PAT … 7-3, TEN

End Q1: 7-3, TEN


After their field goal on the opening drive, the Falcons were unable to get the ball moving on offense. Their first two drives in the second period consisted of four and three plays, respectively, before punting it away. Atlanta was moving on its third drive -- picking up two back-to-back first downs with passes to tight end Kyle Pitts -- when quarterback Desmond Ridder fumbled and lost possession.

The Titans turned that turnover into a touchdown when Levis hit Hopkins again, this time for a 16-yard completion.

(NOTE: Ridder had three lost fumbles in the Falcons' win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but none of those turned into points for the opponent like this one.)

Neither team added to their score before halftime.

The Falcons did make a personnel switch within the final two minutes, replacing Mike Hughes with Scotty Miller as their punt returner. The offense had been getting poor field position with Hughes, beginning at Atlanta's own 15-yard and 7-yard line (twice). Miller's first rep set the Falcons up at their 12-yard line, though.

Scoring plays:

Titans: Will Levis 16-yard pass to DeAndre Hopkins; Nick Folk PAT … 14-3, TEN

Halftime: 14-3, TEN


Enter Taylor Heinicke. The Falcons put Heinicke in at quarterback as the second half begun. Ridder was evaluated for a concussion and was cleared to return.

Heinicke maintained the position on the next Falcons drive, too.

(NOTE: In addition to Ridder, Falcons fullback Keith Smith was evaluated for a concussion. Smith was not cleared and therefore ruled out. Jarrett was downgrade to out, too. Falcons defensive lineman LaCale London was deemed questionable to return with a knee injury but came back into the game in this quarter.)

Heinicke proved he could move the Falcons down the field. The first drive he led went like this: running back Bijan Robinson 25-yard run, Robinson 4-yard run, wide receiver Van Jefferson 7-yard reception, running back Tyler Allgeier 6-yard run, Allgeier 2-yard run and an incomplete pass. Koo capped off the series with a 49-yard field goal.

Koo added another field goal, this one a 39-yarder, on the next drive.

(NOTE: Falcons wide receiver Drake London was deemed questionable to return with a groin injury.)

While the Falcons added just three points at a time, the Titans posted another seven when Levis found Hopkins yet again for a 61-yard touchdown. Hopkins was in the clear, with Falcons safety Richie Grant chasing after him.

Scoring plays:

Falcons: Younghoe Koo 49-yard field goal … 14-6, TEN
Falcons: Younghoe Koo 39-yard field goal … 14-9, TEN
Titans: Will Levis 61-yard pass to DeAndre Hopkins; Nick Folks PAT … 21-9, TEN

End Q3: 21-9, TEN


Finally, the Falcons pushed through into the end zone. Robinson scored on a 13-yard run to finish off a five-play, 75-yard drive that began in the previous period.

The highlight of that series was really the 52-yard pass from Heinicke to wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge.

(NOTE: That was the longest reception of Hodge's career.)

The Titans answered, though. Levis found a clear wide receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine in the end zone for a 33-yard touchdown reception.

(NOTE: This is the first time this season the Falcons have allowed more than 24 points. The Titans now have 28.)

The Falcons held in there. Heinicke hit wide receiver Scotty Miller with a 8-yard pass in the end zone. It was an efficient series in which Atlanta executed eight plays for 66 yards to score.

Defense kept the Titans from scoring again, and offense had a chance to steal the lead in the final two minutes. It came down to a fourth-and-1 play. Heinicke targeted Jefferson, who let the pass slip through his hands. Titans took over and ran out the rest of the clock.

Scoring plays:

Falcons: Bijan Robinson 13-yard run; Younghoe Koo PAT … 21-16, TEN

Titans: Will Levis 33-yard pass to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine; Nick Folks PAT … 28-16, TEN

Falcons: Taylor Heinicke 8-yard pass to Scotty Miller; Younghoe Koo PAT … 28-23, TEN

Final: 28-23, TEN

Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Tennessee Titans during Week 8.

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