The Falcons, who have placed a premium on playing situational football in these meaningless exhibition games, dropped their 12th straight on Thursday night.
While looking at the back end of the roster for most of the game, the Falcons were defeated 19-7 by the Washington Redskins at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in a sparsely attended game on what looked like “Friends and Family” night.
“We liked what we saw at the line of scrimmage on both sides,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “Defensive line, early on was able to generate some pressure. I thought on the offensive line, really keeping (quarterback) Matt (Ryan) clean tonight early on.”
Ryan guided the offense for five series in the first half before donning his baseball cap.
He came out smoking, connecting on his first eight passes, before going 1 of 6. Overall, he completed 9 of 14 passes for 74 yards and finished with a 77.7 passer rating.
“He hit seven or eight passes to start the game,” Quinn said. “To me, that was one of the things we were looking to see after last week, how that would go on both sides of the line of scrimmage.”
Ryan led the first-team offense to a missed field goal, punt, touchdown, punt and punt while playing behind an offensive line that’s still finding its way. Both contenders for the left-guard spot, Jamon Brown and James Carpenter, missed blocks. Also, right tackle Matt Gono, had a tough time in pass protection against Washington linebacker Montez Sweat.
The Falcons did show some big-play potential on defense.
Defensive tackle Deadrin Senat sacked Washington quarterback Case Keenum and knocked the ball loose in the second quarter. Defensive end Takk McKinley caught the ball and returned it 17 yards to Washington’s 33. The play was later ruled a forced fumble and fumble recovery.
Ryan and the offense went to work with the short field. On the fifth play, running back Ito Smith scooted into the end zone on a 5-yard run.
It was the complimentary style of football that the Falcons hope they can put together when the regular season starts.
On the opening drive, the Falcons used their special teams to keep the drive moving. Out of a punt formation on fourth-and-1 from their 34, Sharrod Neasman took a direct snap and picked up 6 yards and the first down. The drive eventually stalled at Washington’s 21-yard line.
Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio’s struggles continued as he missed a 39-yard field goal, wide left. It was his fourth missed field goal of the exhibition season.
Two key competitors in the punt return competition, Marcus Green and Olamide Zaccheaus, hurt their chances with muffed punts.
The Falcons will wrap up the exhibition season at Jacksonville at 7 p.m. on Thursday.