ATLANTA — For the second consecutive week, the Atlanta Falcons faced an NFC East opponent and were caught in a battle down to the wire. After an early 10-0 lead and impressive performances from both Matt Ryan and Cordarelle Patterson, Atlanta still fell to Washington 34-30 after a last-minute touchdown from WFT RB J.D McKissic.
“Obviously frustrating when you don’t finish games,” says Falcons head coach Arthur Smith. “We had multiple opportunities to win that game. We didn’t. The drive, the second to last offensive drive, right, that was the one that we moved the ball a little bit and then we had the third-down call. Right? The one they picked up? Yeah. They picked that up. We punted and we just have to do a better job. We had plenty of chances to go pick the ball. We didn’t. You have to give Washington credit. They made plays when they had to. Quarterback extended plays. He threw them up there and their guys came down.”
Atlanta kicked things off with a 15-play drive but settled for a 25-yard field goal by Younghoe Koo for the first lead of the game. On their second drive, Matt Ryan found Cordarelle Patterson for a 42-yard touchdown to give them a 10-0 lead. Washington responded with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Heinicke to Terry McLaurin and then followed up with a two-yard score from Antonio Gibson to give them a 13-10 lead after Dustin Hopkins missed the extra point. Entering the half, Patterson scored his second touchdown of the game as the Falcons entered the locker room with a 17-13 lead.
Washington kicked off the third quarter with a 101-yard kickoff return TD from DeAndre Carter, and Matt Ryan responded by connecting with Patterson again for his third touchdown of the night.
“He’s been great for us the first four weeks. I think he’s played extremely well,” said Ryan of Patterson after the loss. “Made plays for us in the run game, made plays for us in the passing game. In the return game, he’s done a great job. So I think he impacts the game in so many different ways. I’m really glad that we have him. I love playing with him. He’s a bit of a throwback in terms of football players. He’s tough. He does a lot of different things and goes out there and competes very well. I’ve certainly been impressed with him. I’ve always admired him from afar, but now playing with him and seeing what he does every day and how he works, I think he does a great job.”
Atlanta entered the fourth quarter with a 23-22 lead and seemed to be wrapping up the win. Mike Davis took a seven-yard pass from Ryan into the endzone to extend their lead, but Washington had other plans. With just under five minutes remaining in the contest, Heinicke heaved one up into the endzone that was hauled in by McLaurin to make it a one-score game but failed to convert the two-point attempt.
Atlanta went three and out on the ensuing drive and gave Washington another chance. Heinicke was able to break free from a collapsing play and find J.D McKissic who took it 30 yards to the house for the game-winning score.
“We had a flood concept, but we had four guys going to left and they did a good job covering it, and J.D. kind of slipped through the line and went to the right and there’s no one there. So, initially, I thought, ‘Hey this is great. It’s going to give us better field position.’ He broke that first tackle and then he kind of superman-ed into the end zone which was huge for us if you kind of look at it. That made the Falcons have to go score a touchdown. So, little things like that, those guys are making big plays. So, I’m very fortunate to have those guys in there,” says Heinicke of the game-winning play.
After a three-touchdown performance by Patterson, the result is all that matters. “I’m putting this in the past. I’ll take all that back to get a win you know. It’s not about what I did, it’s about the team. We didn’t win and that’s all that matters,” says Patterson.
Atlanta falls to 1-3 as they look to rebound against the New York Jets at home next week.
Written by Ernie Casanova