BALTIMORE -- The Falcons and Ravens played each other in frigid temperatures, the coldest game played in the home team's history. The wind chill made it worse, leaving both teams to grind out a contest each side desperately needed.
The Falcons just wanted to get back on the winning track after losing three straight and five of six, outside of any fleeting NFC South title hopes. The Ravens could've clinched a playoff spot with a win and some help, so the stakes felt high in this one.
One only team was going to walk away feeling warm and fuzzy, on the inside at least. The Ravens were that team.
The Falcons fell behind early and were down two scores in the fourth quarter, unable to overcome such deficits in a 17-9 loss here at M&T Bank Stadium
Let's take a look at what stood out in this Week 16 contest:
Offensive struggles continue
There are positive signs within the Falcons attack to be found in this game against Baltimore. Desmond Ridder was better in his second start. Drake London made some big catches (more on him later) and Tyler Allgeier again proved to be a tough, efficient runner.
Ultimately, however, that doesn't matter. What does: the Falcons struggled mightily, yet again, to score points. They were 0-for-4 in the red zone, unable to cross the goal line in a play that wasn't negated by penalty (more on that later). They settled for field goals when touchdowns were needed. To make matters worse, they were at the Ravens 1-yard line twice and came away with just three points.
They didn't play good situational football, going 5-for-14 on third down and 1-for-4 on fourth down.
They gave the Ravens good field position time and again, including when Baltimore scored points. The Falcons fell behind early and couldn't get going, failing to score more than 20 points in their fourth straight game. That's not good enough to win games and is a major reason why the Falcons have lost so much down the stretch.
Key red-zone calls impact game
This is not an excuse-making portion of our instant replay. I'm loathe to bring up officiating in any circumstance, largely believing outcomes are decided by play on the field. I still believe that applies to Sunday's game in Baltimore, but there were several key moments in this game impacted by controversial flags against both teams.
Arthur Smith was incensed by an intentional grounding call against Desmond Ridder, despite pleas that he was hit as he threw, which would've negated the prospect of a penalty. That took away a real chance to score a touchdown at the end of the first half, where the Falcons settled for a field goal.
Then there was a questionable holding call against Olamide Zaccheaus that negated a touchdown and an incomplete pass ruling upheld upon review that raised a few eyebrows. Those two calls also frustrated Smith and ultimately led to another field goal.
In the interest of fairness, replay got a Drake London catch right after an incompletion call was reversed. The Ravens weren't all beneficiaries, either, dealing with some penalty setbacks.
It's fair to say that, whether the calls were right or wrong – you be the judge – that they made life harder on a Falcons offense struggling to score and establish offensive momentum.
London fumble a significant turning point
It took Desmond Ridder some time to find a rhythm, but he harnessed it midway through the second quarter on first Falcons drive that went much of anywhere. Ridder completed his third straight pass, to Drake London on 4th-and-2, for a big, chain-moving play. It would've been, however, had Marlon Humphrey not punched the ball free. London covered the ball with two hands but it still came free, recovered by the Ravens.
That was a bad turn of events made worse by what came next. The Ravens marched down the field, scoring a touchdown and a 2-point conversion on the ensuing drive, cashing in on a Falcons miscue to go up two scores. The drive lasted nearly seven minutes and established the Ravens run game.
The Falcons found some flow and were ready to respond well at the end of the first half, but a questionable intentional grounding call in the red zone slowed momentum and led to the Falcons settling for a field goal to end the half at 14-3.
It should also be noted here, though, that London made several important and difficult catches in this game. While that doesn't negate the mistake -- again, he had two hands over the ball -- but he made a positive impact on this game.
Call for questions
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Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Baltimore Ravens during Week 16.