The Cardinals came into this game banged up, looking hopeless, and earning charges of tanking with David Blough under center and some of their best players parked for the week. They left having given the Falcons everything they had, forcing Atlanta to overcome a frustrating day with a strong final drive to earn a home victory.
This was a classic Falcons game in 2022, in that you could take what you wanted from it. Either Atlanta fought hard against a game but depleted the team and ultimately won, or they wildly underperformed against a bad opponent and were lucky to escape with a win. While that debate rages, the Falcons will go home with their first victory in a long, long while.
The 20-19 win sealed by a last second field goal by Younghoe Koo was a nice reversal from the team’s recent fortunes, either way, as they’ve lost a million close efforts in 2022. In this one, it was rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder coolly directing a game-winning drive, Tyler Allgeier sealing it with his legs, and Younghoe Koo taking us home as he so often does. Regardless of draft implications, it was great to see the Falcons win a game after such a long time of squandering leads and opportunities.
Here’s a drive-by-drive, quarter-by-quarter recap of the game you just watched.
The Cardinals started the game off with the ball, and David Blough kicked us off with a three yard pass on first down over the middle. Then Isaiah Oliver sacked Blough on second down, but Blough was able to find a receiver on 3rd and 14 to convert. A two yard run on first down gave way to a sharp throw to Trey McBride for another first down. James Conner went a yard on first down, and then Blough got McBride again for seven yards. Conner then picked up a first down, and then picked up close to seven on first down, followed by a first down gain, and then the Cardinals got inside the 20 with a throw that traveled nine yards to Hollywood Brown. Conner’s first down gain was wiped out by a holding call that backed Arizona up, setting up a 2nd and 11 where Blough threw the ball slightly out of bounds. On third down, a throw short of the sticks was broken up thanks to Dee Alford, setting up a field goal Matt Prater hit. 3-0 Cardinals.
That brought Desmond Ridder and the offense on the field. He connected with Cordarrelle Patterson on a quick out (in an empty set) on first down for a few yards. Patterson then took it a couple of yards before getting tripped up on second down. A neutral zone infraction on JJ Watt gave the Falcons a first down, and then an encroachment call on the Cardinals picked up another five yards and a first down. Tyler Allgeier lost a yard, and then Ridder hit KhaDarel Hodge to get close to a first down, and then Allgeier converted. Ridder hit MyCole Pruitt on a quick rollout for five yards, and then Ridder ran for a first down. Allgeier had a huge run, but Chris Lindstrom got hit with a holding call to back it up. Ridder was under pressure on the next play and flipped to Patterson for a loss of yards. On second down and 23, Ridder found Patterson again and this time he picked up more than 15 yards thanks to an excellent run by #84, and then Allgeier picked up a first down. Ridder threw a high ball that went off the hand of a leaping Drake London and was almost picked off, and then Allgeier got five yards on second down.
That marked the end of the quarter. Ridder then threw a quick one to London, who came back to get it and dove to try to pick it up and fell a yard short. The Falcons went for it on 4th and 1, and Allgeier picked up more than ten yards to convert. Then he got excellent blocking again on first down and took it to the house for the touchdown. 7-3 Falcons.
On first down, the attempted screen only picked up a couple of yards for the Cardinals. Then Blough hit Robbie Anderson for a first down. A quick pass and a Conner run picked up another first down. Then an incomplete pass and a quick, unplanned Blough run led to third and eight, and a Blough pass under pressure was skipped into the dirt and the Cardinals had to punt.
On first down, Desmond Ridder fumbled the snap and the Cardinals recovered.
A quick James Conner run was followed by David Blough’s touchdown pass to Trey McBride, giving Arizona the lead back. 10-7 Cardinals.
A quick Patterson carry kicked things off for Atlanta and picked up three yards, with Ridder following it up with a pass to London for a quick first down. Patterson was hit in the backfield and dropped for a small loss on the next play, and then a quick pass to Allgeier turned into a first down thanks to some nifty footwork from the rookie back. Ridder got away from pressure for about a yard, but a holding call backed them up. Ridder hit London for about 15 yards after rolling out to get away from pressure. Allgeier got a couple of yards, and then Ridder hit Patterson on the sideline for a first down. Then he got MyCole Pruitt for a first down and more after the tight end rumbled for extra yardage. Avery Williams lost a couple on a pitch, and then Ridder somehow avoided a sure sack and picked up about five yards on a run. A quick throw to Pruitt got the Falcons close to the 10 yard line, and then the team went for it on 4th and 2 and Ridder’s throw wasn’t on target. Turnover on downs.
The Cardinals had the ball deep in their own territory, getting three yards on first down, an incomplete thanks to Isaiah Oliver on second down, and then maybe a yard on a quick pass that Darren Hall sniffed out. Punt, but Richie Grant blew the play up and blocked the attempt to give Atlanta the ball inside the five yard line.
Cordarrelle Patterson got the carry and scored the touchdown. Simple as pie. 14-10 Falcons.
The Cardinals had a little time but started the drive a long way out of a score. James Conner took it five yards and ran out of bounds, and then Blough got a first down on a quick pass. The Cardinals got to move while preserving their timeouts, getting out of bounds and getting almost to midfield with 57 seconds left. A deep shot was intercepted by AJ Terrell, but it was a free play owing to Arnold Ebiketie being offsides. A snap offense backed the Cardinals up five yards, and then the Cardinals picked up a first down and used their first timeout with 27 seconds left. The Cardinals got a huge gain thanks to a missed open field tackle from the Falcons, and then Blough was able to run it out of bounds for three yards to make it 2nd and 7 with 12 seconds left, and then a quick first down pass over the middle and a timeout brought it to six seconds. Prater hit the field goal attempt to make it 14-13 Falcons.
Avery Williams took it to midfield on the squib, and the half was over.
First down saw Ridder hit Patterson for a first down, and then Allgeier carried it for no gain. Ridder threw it out of bounds under significant pressure to bring up third down, and then JJ Watt sacked Ridder on third down. Punt, and Bradley Pinion’s rolled out of bounds at the 1 yard line.
Conner got a couple of yards on first down, and then Blough sat back in the end zone and found Trey McBride for a first down. A couple of plays later, the Cardinals had a third and short situation, and they appeared to get a first down on a short run. On first down, Blough had to throw it out of bounds, and then a sideline shot to Greg Dortch popped out of the receiver’s hands. Another deep shot resulted in a pass interference call on Dee Alford, one that I don’t think he earned, and the Cardinals were within striking distance. Fortunately, they fizzled out thanks to a strong effort by the defense, settling for a field goal made by Prater. 16-14 Cardinals.
Little yardage for Patterson on first down, but then a quick first down pass to Damiere Byrd. He missed Patterson under pressure on first down, and then Allgeier picked up three yards. On third down, Ridder’s pass was batted down, and the Falcons had to punt. Mike Ford ran out of bounds and was hit with a five yard penalty that helped give the Cardinals better field position.
The Cardinals picked up seven yards on first down on the ground, and then Conner picked up a first down and a lot more. A short gain on the subsequent first down gave way to a diving Hollywood Brown catch for a first down. Then Dortch was taken down for a quick loss, and then Blough’s throw bounced into the dirt on second down. Blough missed again under pressure on third down thanks to a stumbling receiver. Prater’s attempt was wide and the score remained the same.
The Falcons had the chance to take the lead back…again. A one yard carry for Allgeier kicked us off, followed by Allgeier powering through to pick up eight yards on second down. Allgeier was dropped on third down, however, to put the Falcons once again in a position to have to punt.
Brown juggled it on the sideline for an incomplete first down, but Conner took a short pass for a first down. The Falcons did a good job of keeping Conner contained for a yard on first down, and then he found Brown for a first down.
Fortunately, Blough missed high on his next throw, which might otherwise have been a touchdown. A welcome coverage sack by Adetokunbo Ogundeji on second down made it third and 13, but Greg Dortch reeled it in on third down to make it 4th and 1. The Falcons stuffed the run on fourth down to stop the drive.
Ridder’s deep shot down the sideline was a nice ball, but there was borderline PI on the call and Byrd didn’t come down with it. On second down, Ridder hit Drake London for a first down, and a penalty on Arizona helped the Falcons move a little further. A neutral zone infraction added to that. Patterson picked up eight yards on 1st and 5 for another first down. The first down carry went nowhere, but nice blocking and a good Allgeier run led to a first down. He picked up three yards on first down but was then down on the field, which set off alarm bells around the world. Avery Williams got a short pass and was able to pick up a couple of yards, and then Ridder hit Cordarrelle Patterson in the end zone but the ball was knocked out and ruled an incompletion before Patterson hit the ball. Koo hit the field goal try, though. 17-16, Atlanta.
The Cardinals would get something to say about that, and after a missed deep ball on first down, they picked up a first down on a sideline ball. Corey Clement was taken down after a one yard gain, and then AJ Green picked up eight yards. Then Clement got the first down easily. A throw to McBride went high and the tight end’s feet tangled with Richie Grant’s, and then Clement picked up yet another first down. Blough then threw it in the dirt, and then he tried to scramble but it was called back owing to a holding call. On 1st and 25, Blough’s ball went too high and out of bounds, and then Clement was taken down after a yard by Jalen Dalton. After a short pass, AJ Terrell popped the receiver to make it fourth down and a mile. Matt Prater hit the 57 yard field goal attempt, though, to give Arizona the lead back. 19-17 Cardinals.
Seven yards on first down gave way to a huge Cordarrelle Patterson gain on second down for a first down and a lot more to bring Atlanta past midfield. JJ Watt broke into the neutral zone again to make it 1st and 5 for Atlanta, and then a one yard carry gave way to a Ridder arrow to Drake London for a first down over the middle. Patterson got a few yards on first down, and then Arizona took a timeout. A quick Allgeier run for not much led to the two minute warning. On third down, Ridder threw an absolute laser to MyCole Pruitt for a first down. Allgeier picked up a few yards on the next carry, and then picked up a tough first down as the clock continued to run to give Atlanta a shot at the win. With 20 seconds left and a timeout left, the Falcons kneeled it down and ran the clock down to two seconds to give Younghoe Koo a 21 yard field goal try that he hit to win the game. 20-19 victory, Atlanta Falcons.