Falcons’ Arthur Smith: ‘We’re not going to make excuses’

CINCINNATI – Here’s what Falcons coach Arthur Smith had to say after the 35-17 loss to the Bengals on Sunday:

On the pass defense:

“Yeah, we’re not going to make excuses — credit to Cincy. They out-executed us, and we can all do better — starting with me. Credit to Cincy. We’ve got to find a way against good teams on the road like that to start better.”

Do you think, the way that this offense is built, that you can sustain being down three scores?

“I mean, we scored right before the half in a spread-11, so there’s a lot of ways we can do things. Credit to them in the third quarter on first down — there were a lot of things. But you can go drop back and go hit a — what was it, a 75 yarder to (Damiere) Byrd? But the problem in the third quarter was early downs — first downs — and too many negative plays, or one-yard (plays). We didn’t do a good enough job executing. And credit to Cincy.”

A.J. Terrell went out pretty quickly with that hamstring injury. What’s the level of concern with him?

“We’ll just have to see — imaging tomorrow. We’ll let the doctors handle it and see where it goes.”

What was Joe Burrow doing well today?

“We threw a lot of different looks at him, and he just knows where to go with it. He had time, but we had times we got to him. But even when they were off track on some of the get-back-on-track downs, he hurt us. He found the soft spots in the zone. We threw different looks at him through simulated pressures, but they got open, and we didn’t do a good enough job executing.”

What was your message to the team after this game?

“Back to work. Obviously, credit to Cincy. We didn’t do a good enough job — none of us did — being ready against a good team on the road. Thankfully it only counts as one. It’s a long season, and we have to get back to work and get these corrections, and get ready for a divisional game at home.”

How’d you feel about your running game today?

“Kind of the way I felt about our passing game — pretty average. We didn’t do enough to sustain drives, whether it was run or pass.”

Did they do something to keep you away from Kyle Pitts and Drake London, or was that more situational?

“We went after Kyle — the safety drives on it — that’s how you get the 75-yard touchdown. He caught one at the goal line, and I thought he had a chance, but he didn’t have control of it until afterward. Those guys are going to continue to be a big part of our offense, like they are every week.”

When you were down three scores, was there a consideration at all to bring in Desmond Ridder?

“No, no. There was plenty of time left in the fourth quarter. If we would have gotten a stop late, we probably would have put him in there to hand off the ball. You could have gotten excited about that, but there’s plenty of possessions, no different than L.A.. We had three possessions left, they got us off the field on third down, and we never got the ball back.”

You mentioned about starting slow against good teams on the road. Is there any sort of common thread there?

“Sure, that’s a good question. We’ll have to go back and look at it, but we had a different plan than we had against the Rams. They came out similar no huddle, different personnel packages, and obviously they hit the one on the cover-2 — we fell down and couldn’t get enough depth on the middle read. They had a huge play to start the game. They went with their 11-personnel no huddle — which we figured they would do — but we’ve got to do a better job of executing to stop it. Get down in a hole, we come back down, and what were we down, 21-0? We had the long drive 21-7, they score, we come back out two minute, get the look we wanted, they drive on Kyle (Pitts), we hit (Damiere) Byrd, and Avery (Williams) had the punt return, so we had some momentum going into half. But then we came out in the third quarter and got one yard. We tried the play pass to Drake (London), got off the spot, and then didn’t execute on third down. Got the ball back, and that’s kind of how it went in the third quarter.”

Did those first two three-and-outs put you off track at the start of the third quarter?

“They boxed us in there on the first one, but like I said, I’ve got to look at the film to see exactly what happened. But obviously we didn’t get enough on some of the early downs — whether it was run or pass. We had a keeper, I believe, for a first down. It was something different pretty much every play. Like I’ve been saying, credit to Cincy, because if I’m going to sit here and keep rationalizing a way, we’ve got to give credit to Cincy. They did a better job than we did.”

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Atlanta Falcons 2022 schedule

Sept. 11: Saints 27, Falcons 26

Sept. 18: Rams 31, Falcons 27

Sept. 25 Falcons 27, Seahawks 23

Oct. 2 Falcons 23, Browns 20

Oct. 9 Buccaneers 21, Falcons 15

Oct. 16 Falcons 28, 49ers 14

Oct. 23 at Bengals 35, Falcons 17

Oct. 30 vs. Carolina, 1 p.m.

Nov. 6 vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 1 p.m.

Nov. 10 at Carolina, 8:15 p.m.

Nov. 20 vs. Chicago, 1 p.m.

Nov. 27 at Washington, 1 p.m.

Dec. 4 vs. Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.


Dec. 18 at New Orleans, TBD

Dec. 24 at Baltimore, 1 p.m.

Jan. 1 vs. Arizona, 1 p.m.

Jan. 8 vs. Tampa Bay, TBD