BALTIMORE — Falcons rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder has not thrown a touchdown pass in his two starts, but the team is pleased with his play.
Ridder and the offense got off to a slow start in their 17-9 loss to the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday.
With Ridder throwing to wide receiver Drake London and behind the running of Tyler Allgeier, the offensive finally got moving.
However, the offense could not find the end zone in four red-zone trips. The Falcons amassed 327 total yards and three field goals.
“We want to come out and start fast every single game and then finish the entire game and play complementary football – both offense and defense,” Ridder said. “That was something that we didn’t do off the start. We didn’t get out there, we didn’t start fast.”
The Falcons opened the game with two three-and-outs.
“(That) really hurts our defense and puts them back on the field real quick,” Ridder said. “And that’s something that we just have to be better at as an offense.”
The offense drove to the 1-yard line late in the second quarter, but Ridder was called for intentional grounding.
“Yeah, I mean I didn’t know you could get intentional grounding called when your arm gets hit,” Ridder said. “I was just trying to get outside the pocket. Obviously, it was a keeper.”
The play backfired, when a simple power run may have worked.
“My first read wasn’t there; I felt the defender on me,” Ridder said. “I tried to extend it maybe a tick of a second too long than what I should have. But at the end of the day, I mean, my arm was hit, I know. The ref made the call.”
Referee Bill Vinovich, through a postgame pool report, basically contended that the contact was incidental.
“Basically, he’s out of the pocket, has to get the ball back to the line of scrimmage,” Vinovich said. “It’s a judgment call whether the contact affected the throw significantly enough to take off the intentional grounding.”
The intentional grounding call stood, and the Falcons settled for a field goal and a 14-3 deficit.
Ridder, who was taken in the third round of the NFL draft, believes he made progress in his second start.
“Last week after the game, we talked about being settled in the pocket and letting things come to you,” Ridder said. “I felt like today and all throughout this practice this past week, that’s what I did pretty well. Just being comfortable in there.”
The next step for Ridder is to produce some touchdowns in the red zone.
“Situational football,” Ridder said. “At the end of the day, we look at a couple of things … red zone, third downs, and turnovers. Make sure that we win all three of those things, and obviously, situational football wasn’t our best today. That’s something that we’ll look at, grow and continue to get better at.”
Ridder targeted London nine times, and he made seven catches for 96 yards, including a long of 20 yards.
“He’s like a brother to me, and it just kind of continues out there on the field,” Ridder said.
Ridder felt that he was more comfortable in the pocket.
“I’m not saying I was going to sit back there and just wait, wait, wait, but I was going to get hit before I was going to push up in the pocket,” Ridder said. “I was trusting the guys up front to do their job and trusting the guys on the outside to win their routes, in which everyone did. (That) allows me to get time to stand back there comfortably and deliver the ball.”
It was the coldest game ever played in Baltimore, but Ridder didn’t think the weather was a factor.
“Once you get out there and the energy is going,” Ridder said. “I know it’s tough for people in the stands to hear us say that cold isn’t a factor. But when you’re out there, and the energy is going, and the juices are going, you’re just doing physical activity. You don’t really feel the environment.”
The loss eliminated the Falcons from the playoff race.
“It’s tough,” Ridder said. “It’s just about finishing. How can we finish out this season over the next few games? How can we continue to get better for these next two games? And I think the guys are ready to get back to work and just move to next week.”
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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 Bengals 35, Falcons 17
Oct. 30 Falcons 37, Panthers 34 OT
Nov. 6 Chargers 20, Falcons 17
Nov. 10 Panthers 25, Falcons 15
Nov. 20 Falcons 27, Bears 24
Nov. 27 Commanders 19, Falcons 13
Dec. 4 Steelers 19, Falcons 16
Dec. 18 Saints 21, Falcons 18
Dec. 24 Ravens 17, Falcons 9
Jan. 1 vs. Arizona, 1 p.m.
Jan. 8 vs. Tampa Bay, TBD
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