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Instant Replay: What stood out from Falcons contest vs. Cleveland Browns

Grady Jarrett, Dee Alford close out 23-20 victory over Browns at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

The Falcons got their first win of the season in their third try, after dropping some games they could've won. There was positivity within every result, however, leading to an overall sense of optimism about the team moving forward.

Despite those early setbacks against the Saints and Rams, the Falcons entered Sunday's contest against Cleveland able to get back to .500 and win their first game at home.


They were able to do that in front of the home crowd.

The Falcons pulled out a 23-20 victory at Mercedes-Benz Stadium to advance to 2-2 on the season.

Let's take a look at what stood out in this Week 4 contest:

Once again, Falcons game comes down to the fourth quarter

The Falcons have had all four of their games decided in the fourth quarter. They led a game slip away in the fourth against the Saints. They couldn't complete a fourth-quarter comeback against the Rams. They were able to execute and then hold strong defensively for a win in Seattle.

What a shock that this one came down to the wire as well.

Falcons and Browns ground games, proud features of both offenses, kept churning well late into this one, which was tied deep into the fourth quarter.

The Falcons forced a punt -- the defense was really strong down the stretch -- and a few efficient runs and a big play (plus a facemask penalty) by Olamide Zaccheaus set up a 45-yard field goal.

The Browns had 2 minutes, 33 seconds to respond, but the Falcons defense shut things down. Grady Jarrett got a huge sack on 2nd-and-15, and then Dee Alford sealed the Falcons victory with an interception with roughly 90 seconds left.

Falcons regain offensive efficiency behind young runners

The Falcons attack started Sunday's game well, with an 84-yard drive capped by a field goal and a touchdown following a takeaway in the Browns' end. Then things went off the rails a bit, with a string of punts that featured multiple three-and-outs.

Quarterback Marcus Mariota was sterling early on, but his efficiency slowed (and quarterback pressure increased) as the game progressed that led to unwelcome stagnancy. The Browns matched that efficiency in the third quarter, however, keeping the game close.

The Falcons quarterback avoided critical mistakes until Mariota's third-quarter interception to Denzel Ward broke a long-standing deadlock.

Mariota remained elusive throughout, but his ability to connect with receivers waned for an extended stretch. That hurt the Falcons in the short term, anyway, until they were able to get the run game going late behind Caleb Huntley. Tyler Allgeier chipped in as well on a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown run that featured all runs.

The young crew kept their good thing going on their next series, which featured several big runs leading to a Younghoe Koo field goal. Huntley and Allgeier were primarily responsible for re-activating the offense and did so, but there's one point that can't be ignored. Atlanta wasn't terrible efficient in the red zone -- they were just 2-for-4 -- and that kept things uncomfortably close late.

Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt make presence felt, but ATL D pushes back

Cleveland entered Sunday's game with a reputation as a tough-running team that'll keep bringing it on the ground. That's how this game played out, with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt churning out tough yards and breaking tackles on long, sustained drives.

This, plus a Falcons three-and-out and a quick score off a turnover, led to a wild time-of-possession disparity in the first half.

Browns: 20:34

Falcons: 9:19

That'll wear any defense down, especially when it's on the field all the time, and it can show up later in a game. Former University of Georgia alum Nick Chubb kicked things up a notch midway through the fourth-quarter, with a 28-yard touchdown run preceded by Hunt's 20-yard jaunt, that gave Cleveland a fourth-quarter lead.

The defense kept grinding, however, and seemed to get better as the game went on. They forced a key punt late in the fourth quarter, which gave the Falcons a chance to go win it at the end. The Browns got one, too, but, as we all know, couldn't make anything of it.

Call for questions

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Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Cleveland Browns during Week 4.


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