The Falcons needed a win after two straight dismal showings.

Thank goodness for the Jaguars.

The Falcons held off the mistake-prone Jaguars, 21-14, for a victory that improved them to 5-6 and placed them second in the NFC South behind the Buccaneers. Here are the highlights:

Play of the game: Cordarrelle Patterson scored on a 12-yard run in the second quarter that gave the Falcons a 14-0. The score was set up by two, of many, Jaguars’ blunders. The Falcons took possession of the ball at the Jacksonville 29-yard line after Marlon Davidson recovered a fumble. The Falcons appeared to have settled for a 43-yard field goal after three straight incomplete passes. However, on the field goal attempt, Roy Robertson-Harris was called for a leverage foul. The Falcons took the points off the board and needed just the next play, the Patterson scoring run, to take what against the Jaguars is a commanding lead.

Offensive game ball: Cordarrelle Patterson. The running back returned from an ankle injury and picked up where he left off. He carried 16 times for 108 yards and scored two touchdowns. It marked the first time in 22 games that the Falcons have had a 100-yard rusher.

Defensive game ball: Dante Fowler. In a return to Jacksonville, where he spent 3-1/2 seasons, Fowler got a sack and forced fumble of Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The loose ball was recovered by Chris Manhertz, who was beat on the play, for a 10-yard loss. Still, Fowler finally got a chance to take his bow.

Key stat: The Falcons had 21 first down with three coming on Jaguar penalties. Each came on either third or fourth down to keep drives alive.

Biggest takeaway: Let’s put aside that the Jaguars are a bad football team. Let’s put aside they committed six penalties. Let’s put aside they had two turnovers, one on an interception when quarterback Trevor Lawrence thought he had a free play. The Falcons won a game they should have won, improved to 5-6 and are still in the playoff picture. Make no mistake, they didn’t just defeat the Patriots or Cowboys, teams that defeated them by a combined score of 68-3 in the previous two games. Don’t mean to rain on the parade. Just need a little perspective.

They said it: “That’s what good teams have to do. You can live in all these narratives and they are all BS if you don’t continue to grow and improve. We felt good about the one game, regardless of the statistics and situations. We kept chipping away.” – Falcons coach Arthur Smith on Falcons season-high 154 yards rushing.

Next up: The Falcons return to NFC South play by hosting the Buccaneers on Sunday at 1 p.m. The Falcons lost at Tampa Bay, 48-25, in September.

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