Falcons were eliminated from the playoffs with the loss

BALTIMORE -- Ice cold.

The Ravens leaned on their strong rushing attack and the leg of kicker Justin Tucker to help lead them to a 17-9 victory over the Falcons in the freezing cold Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Falcons lost the sixth of their past seven games and were eliminated from the NFC playoffs.

“We’ve been on a bumpy road, up and down this entire year,” Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder said. “We wanted to get over that hump today, and obviously we didn’t, so now it’s just about going to get the next one.”

With the Saints and Panthers winning to improve to 6-9, the Falcons dropped to last place in the NFC South at 5-10. The Buccaneers (6-8) entered the week in first place. The Bucs play at the Cardinals at 8:20 Sunday night.

The Ravens improved to 10-5 on the season.

Falcons coach Arthur Smith was not a fan of the officiating, as he was seen on camera questioning several calls. Postgame he was more subdued.

“I would rather give that money to people that need it in Atlanta, (rather) than give it to people in the league office or whatever they do with it,” Smith said. “That’s why I’d rather give it to people that need it.”

The game-time temperature was 17 degrees, a record for an NFL game in Baltimore, besting the previous mark of 19 set in 2017.

The wind was coming in from the west at 16 mph, and the wind-chill factor was 2 degrees at kickoff.

Ridder, who had a questionable intentional grounding call in the second quarter, completed 22 of 33 passes for 218 yards and finished with a passer rating of 85.2. Wide receiver Drake London, who had a key fumble, caught seven passes for 96 yards.

Running back Tyler Allgeier had 22 touches for 117 total yards.

“This was the coldest game I’ve played in, for sure,” Allgeier said. “It was fun.”

The Ravens rushed 34 times for 184 yards, and Tucker added three field goals.

Smith was pleased with Ridder, who took over for Marcus Mariota after the bye week, 13 games into the season.

“I thought his decision-making was good, and he was pretty accurate,” Smith said. “I thought he made some big-time throws when the pressure got on him in the second half, and that’s what you want to see. He was calm and collective, and I thought he delivered the football.”

Rookies Ridder and London connected for seven receptions for the second game in row.

“I think they have pretty good chemistry,” Smith said. “It’s pretty obvious, after two starts by (Ridder), and credit to Drake, too. There are other guys that are working and getting open.”

Both teams started slowly before things heated a bit.

The Falcons have struggled against rugged AFC North teams over the past three cycles against that division. The Falcons went 1-3 against the AFC North this season with a win over the Browns.

The Falcons are 1-11 against the AFC North over the past three cycles, in 2022, 2018 and 2014.

Before beating the Browns 23-20 on Oct. 2, the previous Falcons win over an AFC North team was against Baltimore, a 26-21 victory Nov. 11, 2010, in a Thursday night game.

The Ravens used two explosive passing plays and a fumble by London to craft a 14-3 halftime lead Saturday.

The Falcons had their best opportunity to score a touchdown taken away by a questionable grounding call late in the first half. Ridder contended that his arm was hit on the play.

After an exchange of punts to start the game, Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley connected with recently signed wide receiver Sammy Watkins for a 40-yard gain up the right sideline. The Falcons’ defense stiffened, and Tucker came on to make a 21-yard field goal to make the score 3-0.

The Falcons had another three-and-out. The Ravens couldn’t get moving, and Tucker came on to attempt a 55-yard field goal, but the kick was blocked by Ade Ogundeji.

The Falcons picked up a first down on their third possession, but the drive stalled when a fourth-and-5 pass from Baltimore’s 44 intended for Damiere Byrd fell woefully incomplete.

On the Ravens’ ensuing possession, tight end Mark Andrews got behind cornerback A.J. Terrell for a 36-yard gain. The Falcons’ defense bent, but didn’t break. Tucker made a 27-yard field goal to make the score 6-0 with 3:03 left in the second quarter.

The Falcons went for it on fourth-and-2. Ridder connected with London for an apparent first down, but four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey forced a fumble. Linebacker Patrick Queen recovered the ball and returned it five yards to Baltimore’s 30.

“I thought I did everything I could possibly do to secure the catch,” London said. “That is one of the better cornerbacks in the league, and he just punched it out and made a better play.”

The Falcons defense finally broke under the running of J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Huntley, who rushed to pick up two third downs in the drive. He tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Demarcus Robinson on the drive’s 13th play. Huntley ran up the middle for the two-point conversion to make the score 14-0.

The Falcons’ offense finally got moving as Allgeier ran for 26 yards on a screen play. The Falcons drove the ball to Baltimore’s 1-yard line and then things got weird.

The Falcons called a play-action pass, and Ridder was chased out of the pocket. His armed appeared to get hit as he passed the ball out of bounds. The ball didn’t get back to the line of scrimmage, and the refs called intentional grounding.

“We had a timeout left and the runoff,” Smith said. “Without going more into it because I don’t want to get fined. I’m not sure what I’m allowed to say.”

The Falcons ended up settling for a 32-yard field goal by Younghoe Koo that hit the left upright.

The Falcons scored an apparent touchdown on a run by Patterson on their opening drive of the third quarter, but Olamide Zaccheaus was called for an illegal block as cornerback Brandon Stephens did an NBA-style flop to entice the flag.

The Falcons couldn’t get back to the end zone, and Koo added a 34-yard field goal to make the score 14-6 with 7:01 left in the third quarter.

After 17 plays and 63 yards, all the Falcons had to show for it was three points.

The defense forced Baltimore to punt, and the Falcons got the ball back at their 22 with 3:17 left in the third quarter, but they had a three-and-out.

Edwards added a bruising 37-yard run to move the ball to the Falcons’ 9. After action moved into the fourth quarter, Tucker added a 21-yard field goal to make the score 17-6.

The Falcons’ subsequent drives stalled on the Ravens 1-yard line as Allgeier was stuffed for a yard loss on fourth-and-goal from 1.

The Ravens got the ball back at their 2-yard line with 6:30 left in the fourth quarter.

After forcing a punt, Koo added a 37-yard field goal with 2:03 left.

Reality has set in that the Falcons are out of the playoff picture. The Falcons have not made the playoffs since the 2017 season.

“That for sure hurts,” safety Jaylinn Hawkins said. “As hard as we work. All the work that put in. All the time that we put in. It really hurts.

Also, Falcons tight end Feleipe Franks left the game after being examined for a concussion and did not return.

The Falcons will host the Cardinals at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

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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

BYE WEEK

Dec. 18 Saints 21, Falcons 18

Dec. 24 at Baltimore, 1 p.m.

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

Jan. 8 vs. Tampa Bay, TBD