Falcons’ Marcus Mariota must eliminate his ballhandling miscues

FLOWERY BRANCH -- Quarterback Marcus Mariota must eliminate his ballhandling mistakes if the Falcons are going to have a chance to upset the Cleveland Browns.

Mariota is on the hot seat for this game, at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

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His fumble exchange on a read-pass-option play with running back Tyler Allgeier put the Seattle game in jeopardy Sunday. The Falcons needed the defense to come up with an interception to secure a 27-23 victory.

Mariota had a costly fumble and later a ballhandling mistake when he bobbled a snap on a key third-down play against the Saints in the season opener.

Falcons offensive coordinator Dave Ragone contended that the fumble in Seattle was scheme-related. Mariota said he tried to pull the ball out on a handoff and keep it, but the ball went to ground.

“For me, it’s simple, he’s one of 11,” Ragone said. “I get that he’s the quarterback. ... The reality is that he’s part of group that is trying to score points.”

A team can’t score points without the ball.

“It’s about helping the offense to score points,” Ragone said. “He is putting us in good positions not only in the pass game (and) is he putting us in the right run checks.”

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Atlanta Falcons 2022 NFL schedule

Sept. 11: Saints 27, Falcons 26

Sept. 18: Rams 31, Falcons 27

Sept. 25 Falcons 27, Seahawks 23

Oct. 2 vs. Cleveland, 1 p.m.

Oct. 9 at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.

Oct. 16 vs. San Francisco, 1 p.m.

Oct. 23 at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

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.

BYE WEEK

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