Five takeaways from Falcons’ win over Seahawks

SEATTLE – The Falcons had a genuine defensive stand to help pull out the 27-23 victory over the Seahawks on Sunday at Lumen Field.

When things seemed bleak after a security delay and a fumble by quarterback Marcus Mariota, the defense stepped forward to save the day.

It wasn’t a particularly great day for the defense, which was shredded for 420 yards. But when the Falcons needed to make a stop, the unit got sacks from Lorenzo Carter and Grady Jarrett.

Then second-year safety Richie Grant closed the deal with his first NFL interception.

The Falcons improved to 1-2 on the season and will now face the Cleveland Browns (2-1) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Here are five takeaways from the win over the Seahawks:

1. Rushing attack sustainable: After converted running back Cordarrelle Patterson rushed for a career-high 120 yards in the season opener, the big question was if that type of performance could be repeated.

Well, he went over 100 yards in the third quarter against the Seahawks and finished with 141 yards on 17 carries to help power the offense.

A lot of the runs were RPOs (run-pass option) where Mariota can hand it off, keep the ball or throw a quick pass.

“We pride ourselves on it takes all 11, and Marcus in certain areas, and he’s legitimate,” head coach Arthur Smith said. “You got to account for him. So that could change your number count.”

The offensive line wore down the Seahawks over the course of the game.

“We pride ourselves on everybody is out there and blocking is part of our game,” Smith said. “We don’t have receivers that take plays off. That’s not our mindset. Going out there just like the linemen it’s a coordinated effort.”

Patterson credited running back Avery Williams and tight end Feleipe Franks for creating a crease on the backside of the play that he broke loose for 40 yards.

“Those guys were finishing, and they sprung that big run by C.P.,” Smith said. “So, really good effort by our team. Like I said, it wasn’t perfect. We know we got things to clean up.”

2. Defense flashes 4-3 Over: When Smith was asked about the Seahawks early last week, he was concerned about their tight ends. He mentioned them by name.

The Falcons opened the game in a 4-2-5 nickel without nose tackle Anthony Rush in the game. Mike Ford started at nickel back.

The Seahawks promptly ran the ball against this light box. Running back Rashaad Penny had gains of 10, 11 and 14 yards in the drive which ended with a field goal.

On Seattle’s first touchdown drive, tight ends Noah Fant, Cody Parkinson and Will Dissly made plays against the Falcons’ defense. Fant caught a pass for 4 yards, Parkinson got behind the defense on a third down-and-1 for a 36-yard gain and then Dissly caught an 18-yard touchdown pass.

So, the Falcons had to stop the run and the tight ends.

The Falcons had been working a 4-3 defense with Rashaad Evans, Mykal Walker and rookie Troy Andersen. They used a 4-3 over (the tight end) – to help slow down the Seahawks.

“It’s how you break it down,” Smith said. “There’s so many different looks, to be multiple. I know the personnel, whether you’re trying to break it down as 3-3 or 2-5 or whatever it really is. But there’s multiple fronts you can play, and we threw a lot of different personnel groups.”

Andersen played 19 defensive snaps (27%) and was lined up outside. On one play he was lined up inside of outside linebacker/defensive end Arnold Ebiketie.

3. Run defense must improve: Jarrett came up with the a big sack on the final drive.

Defensive end Taquon Graham was active throughout the game and Lorenzo Carter also had a sack on the final drive.

The Falcons ended up with two sacks and five quarterback hits. They also had five tackles for losses.

The Seahawks rushed 23 times for 112 yards for an average of 4.9 yards per carry.

Teams are going to keep trying to run on the Falcons if they are giving up five yards a carry. Also, the Falcons are set to face the NFL’s leading rusher in Cleveland’s Nick Chubb on Sunday.

“We definitely tried to find an answer for it,” Grady Jarrett said. “It got going hot early with (Rashaad) Penny, and we knew that they were going to try and run downhill. ...

“We tried to make some adjustments. We made some, but they still got a little too much on the ground. We need to do better across the board against the run.”

Chubb, the former Georgia standout, has rushed for 341 yards and four touchdowns this season. Patterson is second in the league with 301 yards rushing.

4. Falcons got Pitts the ball: The Falcons went to tight end Kyle Pitts on a deep ball on the first play of the game.

Mariota over threw him.

Pitts had eight targets in the first half including the one where he drew a pass interference call. He caught four passes. He finished with five catches for 87 yards.

“I would just say conceptually just beating some of their defense and their matchups,” Pitts said about his productivity.

He entered the game with four catches for 38 yards in two games.

5. Where’s Desmond Ridder: The Falcons assured all that they have a plan for rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder, but he was the only player on the 53-man roster who did not play against the Seahawks. Ridder is just one play away from taking over.

How can he ready?

“It’s all of our guys in the program,” Smith said on Friday before the game. “We do different things. We’re not going to publicly speak on it. Some of it we let you guys see. Some of it is (done) behind closed doors. I think everybody in here, as long as I have the opportunity to do this job, I’m going to coach everybody on this team. It’s our charge to develop everybody.”

When asked how would he feel if Ridder had to go in, Smith started talking about the linebackers and getting Andersen ready to play.

“Same way about any of our guys if they had to go in there,” Smith said. “Troy, all of those guys. All of those guys if they had to go in there. God forbid if Mykal Walker or Rashaad Evans had … their chin straps breaks and we had to put we’ve got to put (Nathan) Landman or Troy out there, I feel great about those guys.”

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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

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

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

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

Sun., Oct. 23 at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.

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

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

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

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

Sun., Nov. 27 at Washington, 1 p.m.

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

BYE WEEK

Sun., Dec. 18 at New Orleans, TBD

Sat., Dec. 24, at Baltimore, 1 p.m.

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

Sun., Jan. 8 vs. Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.