Heartbreak hotel.

Leading for most of the game, the Falcons went down in defeat when Washington running back J.D. McKissic dove into the end zone with 33 seconds to play to give them a come-from-behind 34-30 victory Sunday at a half-full Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Falcons fall to 1-3 on the season.

ExploreSteve Hummer: For wont of one (bleeping) first down, Falcons lose

“Obviously, frustrating when you don’t finish games,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “We had multiple opportunities to win that game and we didn’t.”

The mood in the locker room was bleak.

“Somber,” linebacker Foye Oluokun said. “That means sad, right? Disdain. Disappointed. Close game and we always want to win close games. It didn’t turn out our way.”

Quarterback Matt Ryan’s heave into the end zone from 37 yards out to Hayden Hurst was batted down by Kendall Fuller as time expired.

Caption
Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts looks on as Washington Football Team defenders knock down a last-second Hail Mary by Matt Ryan into the end zone Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Washington held on to win 34-30. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts looks on as Washington Football Team defenders knock down a last-second Hail Mary by Matt Ryan into the end zone Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Washington held on to win 34-30. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)
Caption
Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts looks on as Washington Football Team defenders knock down a last-second Hail Mary by Matt Ryan into the end zone Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Washington held on to win 34-30. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

“We got our selves into position where we could get it into the end zone,” Ryan said. “Those plays are kind of a flip of a coin. You try and put it in a spot where your guys can make a play on it. I thought our guys got down there and did a great job of getting in position. That’s just part of the game. Sometimes it doesn’t bounce your way.”

Washington improved to 2-2 on the season after quarterback Taylor Heinicke scrambled out to his left and then tossed the ball back across the field to McKissic, a former Falcon, who pulled away from linebacker Deion Jones and raced into the end zone from 30 yards out.

“He was the fifth read,” Heinicke said. “No one was open, so I needed to make a play.”

The Falcons wasted a three-touchdown performance from running back Cordarrelle Patterson. They had the lead 30-28, but couldn’t run out the clock.

After a 45-yard punt by kicker Younghoe Koo, Washington drove from its 24-yard line for the game-winning touchdown. Punting duties fell to Koo after punter Cam Nizialek suffered a right hamstring injury during the game.

The Falcons’ last-ditch effort moved quickly to the 37. Ryan spiked the ball with a second left on the clock before the last pass.

Ryan completed 24 of 38 passes for 262 yards and four touchdown passes. He finished with a passer rating of 118.5. Heinicke, who played at Collins Hill High School in Gwinnett, completed 20 of 29 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns. He had a passer rating of 116.6.

Not being able to run out the clock was troubling for Ryan.

“If we want to be the kind of football team we want to be and type of offense we’d like to be,” Ryan said. “(When) you get in those situations you want to be able to move the ball, burn clock, get some first downs and end that football game. We didn’t do it. That part is disappointing. We’ve got to improve there. ”

With the 30-28 lead, running back Mike Davis, who rushed 13 times for 14 yards, was stuffed for a 3-yard lost on first down. He gained 4 yards on second down and caught a pass for 5 yards, which left the Falcons with a fourth down-and-4 from their 31 and forced to punt.

“In that situation we’ve got to get the first down,” Davis said. “It hurts. It does. It really hurts.”

Here are the five things we learned from the game:

1. Roughing the passer: Washington defensive end Chase Young was called for a roughing the passer penalty which nullified a sack on fourth-and-2 from the Washington 42.

On the bizarre play, Ryan went down to a knee and tried to heave the ball out of bounds. Young appeared to raise his hand near his face. The NFL determine that there was contact to the head and neck area.

ExploreFalcons picked a bad time to stall

“Our on-field ruling was forceable contact to the head and neck area,” Referee Clay Martin told the PFWA pool reporter.

Martin was asked to clarify whether there was contact to the head and neck area on the play. “Correct,” Martin said. “Forceable contact to the neck and head area is the rule.”

Ryan said he though he was hit on the play.

The play kept Falcons’ drive alive.

Four plays later, Davis took a swing pass into the end zone from 7 yards out. He broke four tackles to put the Falcons up 30-22 with 14:52 left in the game. He broke attempts from Washington’s Fuller, Jon Bostic, Daron Payne and Bobby McCain.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC

Caption
Falcons running back Mike Davis comments on lessons from last-minute loss to Washington at home.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC

2. Patterson put on show: Patterson caught touchdown passes of 42 and 12 yards in the first half to help power the Falcons to a 17-13 halftime lead. He added a 14-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter.

Patterson became the first Atlanta player since 2018 to score three touchdowns in a game. He led the Falcons in receiving and rushing, finishing with five catches for 82 yards and six carries for 34 yards.

“Any time I’m on the field, I’m going to give it my all,” Patterson said. “No matter where I’m at on the field. Coach is calling the plays up. I just have to do a good job executing them.”

The Falcons scored on their opening possession. The drive stalled at the 7-yard line and Koo made a 25-yard field goal.

On their first possession of the second quarter, Ryan caught Washington safety Bobby McCain looking into the backfield. When McCain came up to stop the run, Patterson slipped behind the defense for his first touchdown catch to make it 10-0.

Washington answered with a 33-yard touchdown pass the Terry McLaurin. Cornerback Fabian Moreau and safety Eric Harris were the closest players to McLaurin.

After stopping the Falcons, Washington Football running back Antonio Gibson scored on a 2-yard touchdown run to make 13-10.

The Falcons come back with a 11-play, 75-yard drive. Patterson made a nifty inside move on safety Landon Collins and then powered his way into the end zone.

Caption
Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson bears down to reach the end zone against three defenders to take a 17-13 lead over the Washington Football Team during the final minute of the second quarter Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson bears down to reach the end zone against three defenders to take a 17-13 lead over the Washington Football Team during the final minute of the second quarter Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.   (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)
Caption
Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson bears down to reach the end zone against three defenders to take a 17-13 lead over the Washington Football Team during the final minute of the second quarter Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

3. Special teams weren’t special: Washington’s DeAndre Carter started off the second half with a 101-kickoff return for a touchdown.

Falcons rookie safety Richie Grant got his arms around Carter, but he ran threw the tackle attempt and race up the left side of the field for the touchdown. The extra point was missed as Washington took a 19-17 lead.

The Falcons answered with Patterson’s third touchdown grab. He ran a fade route and high-pointed the ball over Fuller. The Falcons’ two-point conversion was unsuccessful to make it 23-19.

Washington kicker Dustin Hopkins missed two extra-point attempts.

4. ‘Riverboat Ron:’ Washington coach Ron Rivera — nicknamed “Riverboat Ron” for his willingness to gamble on play calls — had a penchant for fourth-down tries while with the Carolina Panthers.

He went for it on fourth-and-5 from the Falcons’ 39 in the third quarter. Curtis Samuel was open in the flat for a 10-yard gain. Washington added a field goal on the drive to make it 23-22.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC

Caption
Falcons linebacker Foye Oluokun said the team was "somber," "disappointed" following loss to Washington.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC

5. Heinicke escape act. Washington’s quarterback escaped a sack attempt from Dante Fowler and was hit by linebacker Foye Oluokun before heaving a pass into the end zone.

McLaurin caught the ball for a touchdown in front of Falcons cornerback T.J. Green. The two-point conversion pass was incomplete, but Fowler was called for offside.

Washington’s second pass attempt also was incomplete.

“We could have played a cleaner game for sure,” Oluokun said. “Anytime you start dragging out little mistakes here and there, lead to a long drive and then you’re tired. As long as we play a cleaner football game, I think we’ll get the outcome that we want. But we have to work on that, playing cleaner for sure.”

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Falcons’ 2021 schedule features trip to London, January trip to Buffalo

Atlanta Falcons Schedule

Eagles 32, Falcons 6

Buccaneers 48, Falcons 25

Falcons 17, Giants 14

Washington FT 34, Falcons 30

New York Jets vs. Falcons in London, Oct. 10 at 9:30 a.m.

Bye Week

Falcons at Miami Dolphins, Oct. 24 at 1 p.m.

Here’s the rest of full schedule

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