Atlanta Falcons baffled by offensive collapse in 20-6 loss to Detroit Lions

DETROIT (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons were confident they would be able to move the ball on the Detroit Lions.

After a 20-6 loss, they still felt the same way.

“It's never a matter of another team beating you rather than you beating yourself,” Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder said. “There are a lot of times in our situation where we beat ourselves and don't play to our full potential.”

The Falcons averaged 24.5 points in season-opening wins against Carolina and Green Bay, thanks to 352 yards passing for Ridder and 303 yards from running backs Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier.

None of that worked on Sunday at Ford Field.

Ridder was 21 for 38 for 201 yards and took seven sacks for 62 yards. Robinson and Allgeier only managed 45 yards on 17 carries, and no one got into the end zone.

“Give the Lions credit, because they took us out of our offensive rhythm and we never got it back,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “They forced us to take a lot of negative plays early in drives, which limits your options when it comes to calling plays.”

Atlanta trailed 13-3 at the half, and it had chances down the stretch. Early in the third quarter, the Falcons had a third-and-6 from the Detroit 29.

“At that point, we're planning on taking two shots at the first down — we were moving the ball and it could have given us a spark,” Smith said.

Ridder handed the ball to Robinson running left, and it looked as if he was going to get to the edge before he was dragged down by defensive end Aidan Hutchinson. It ended up as a 1-yard gain, and Smith decided to kick the field goal rather than going for it on fourth-and-5.

Younghoe Koo, though, missed the 47-yarder — his second miss of the game.

“That's a spot where we're thinking we are going to get within a score, and we didn't get anything out of it,” Smith said. “That's frustrating.”

On the last play of the third quarter, Jessie Bates III gave the offense another shot by intercepting a Jared Goff pass at the Lions 43.

After two Allgeier runs picked up 6 yards, Ridder missed wide receiver Drake London on third down. He went back to the same receiver on fourth down, but he was under pressure and the pass sailed high.

This time, the Lions took advantage, driving for an insurance touchdown to make it 20-3.

Running out of time, Atlanta then drove to the Detroit 6, but ended up trying its fourth field goal of the game.

The seven sacks of Ridder included two by Hutchinson. On the seventh and last, Hutchinson ripped the ball away from Ridder and recovered at the Falcons 11.

“We remembered how to rush the passer today,” Hutchinson said.

Smith agreed that the Lions had decisively won the pass-rush battle — Goff wasn't sacked — but he wasn't sure quite how they did it.

“We're going to have to really break down this tape, because they beat us every way possible,” he said. “They beat us to the outside and they beat us up the middle, but what really concerned me was our play-action game didn't even slow them down — they were already on top of us.”



Dave Hogg, The Associated Press