Falcons @ Commanders
Final Score: Commanders 19, Falcons 13
Writer: Ben Brown (@BenBrownPL on Twitter)
On the 15th anniversary of Sean Taylor‘s tragic death, the Commanders went out of their way to completely botch their “statue” of Taylor that was unveiled before the game.
This is the Sean Taylor “Statue” that they are unveiling today in Washington.
This is simply a mannequin with a ST jersey on.
This is beyond embarrassing
— Cody Bennett (@SouthBeachCody) November 27, 2022
This game was played in the pouring rain at Fedex Field and, based on the way the Falcons treated it on their opening drive, it looked like this game was going to be nothing more than ground-and-pound and short dump-offs. Then, Taylor Heinicke came out slinging it on the Commanders’ opening drive and it gave us all some hope that we’d see some offense. And we did, but it was still a sloppy day. Younghue Koo missed a 58 yard field goal at the end of the first half. Joey Slye missed only his second career extra point. There were plenty of overthrows and drops that were clearly a result of a slick ball in the inclement weather. But both teams ran the ball hard, and when push came to shove they made big throws when they needed them.
With a six-point lead midway through the 4th quarter, the Commanders’ defense stood up and sacked Mariota on back-to-back plays, forcing a tough 3rd and 21 that the Falcons had no shot at converting. And wouldn’t you know it, they didn’t. The Commanders had a chance to run the clock out but they went three and out and were forced to punt. The Falcons got the ball back with five minutes left and proceeded to drive the ball down to the goal line with just over a minute left. It looked like the Falcons were primed to score a touchdown and win this game after converting 3rd and 4 in the red zone, but the Commanders’ defense stepped up when they needed it most and worked together to pick off Mariota in the end zone and essentially seal the game.
WHAT A PLAY
— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) November 27, 2022
Atlanta still had three timeouts left, and the Commanders were forced to punt after a three and out with 40ish seconds left on the clock. However, Atlanta ran into the kicker which gave Washington a first down and the game. For a sloppy, waterlogged game, it really turned into a fun game to watch by the end.
Left hand up! pic.twitter.com/xZ8vkk4o3L
— N Osei (@NOsei07) November 15, 2022
— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) November 27, 2022
Marcus Mariota: 15/25, 174 Yards, TD, INT | 6 Carries, 49 Yards
Marcus Mariota didn’t play poorly in this game despite the low yardage numbers, low completion percentage, and interception. First off, Mariota did well running the RPO and knew when to pick and choose his spots. The Commanders’ defense was being pushed back all afternoon long, so Mariota smartly handed the ball off more often than not. When he took it himself he usually had a clear lane and picked up big chunk after big chunk. On the ground, Mariota was very good at making the right decision and most of the time the right decision wasn’t to take it himself.
Through the air, the gameplan was clearly impacted by the rain and he wasn’t asked to throw much as a result. For most of the first half his only throws were dumpoffs or short routes, nothing downfield. Whether that was by design or due to coverage downfield I couldn’t tell, but Mariota didn’t make any mistakes by trying to force anything.
Mariota’s best play was arguably a pump fake to Cordarrelle Patterson that EVERYBODY bit on, which opened up Olamide Zaccheaus downfield for a long gain. It was truly a thing of beauty. Mariota also hit Zaccheaus late in the game on a play where it looked like he was knocked to the ground by a defender, got up, and threw the ball downfield to Zaccheaus who was wide open once again. There was no clear camera angle to show whether Mariota was touched by a defender or tripped over himself (or his teammate), but the refs had a great view of it and seemingly made the right call by not calling him down. The play resulted in a 45 yard gain and put the Falcons in position to score the game-winning TD.
Unfortunately, Mariota’s lone mistake on the stat sheet was an interception at the goal line that was tipped by a defender at the line and intercepted in the end zone. It was a great ending to the game for neutral fans, but a heartbreaker for Falcons fans.
Cordarrelle Patterson: 11 Carries, 52 Yards | 5 Targets, 3 Receptions, 19 Yards
Tyler Allgeier: 11 Carries, 54 Yards
Caleb Huntley: 1 Carry, 12 Yards | 1 Target, 1 Reception, 1 Yard
Including Marcus Mariota, the Falcons ran the ball 29 times for 167 yards. Like the Commanders, they had no problem running the ball all day. Unfortunately for fantasy managers, the carries were split four different ways and this running-back-by-committee approach does nothing for fantasy purposes. Tyler Allgeier earned most of the looks on Atlanta’s opening drive, then Caleb Huntley came in and had a gorgeous 12-yard run where he hit a wide-open hole hard then ripped a spin move right in a defender’s face to earn some extra yards.
The offensive line truly deserves a lot of credit for giving this group plenty of room to run – they played extremely well for most of this game. It looked like defenders were having a hard time keeping their feet on the sloppy field, but we’ve still gotta give credit where it’s due. Speaking of giving credit where it’s due, Allgeier made what seemed like the play of the game with just over a minute left when he converted 3rd and 4 in the red zone to give the Falcons 1st and goal and on the cusp of a win. Unfortunately, Mariota threw a pick two plays later, but it was a great run by Allgeier in a huge spot.
It’s time we mention Cordarrelle Patterson. He also benefitted from a great day by the O-Line, but obviously, he isn’t getting the number of opportunities we all expect him to. Patterson did have a 24 yard run in this game, but he also had a 12 yard run called back by an offensive facemask penalty. He also had an outside run in the red zone that he should have been able to get into the end zone if not for a missed block by the WR on that side of the field. It would be one thing if the other RBs in this group weren’t running well, but they are, so there isn’t really much to complain about when it comes to Patterson. If one of these guys were to get hurt, the two remaining healthy backs would have a lot of fantasy value.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Olamide Zaccheaus: 8 Targets, 5 Receptions, 91 Yards
Drake London: 4 Targets, 2 Receptions, 29 Yards
Anthony Firkser: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 16 Yards
MyCole Pruitt: 3 Targets, 2 Receptions, 9 Yards, TD
Parker Hesse: 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 9 Yards
Not much to say about this group today. Drake London caught a pop pass on the first drive, dropped a quick pass on their second drive, then had this incredible fingertip catch on 2nd and 25 later in the first half.
Drake London fingertip catch ?
— NFL (@NFL) November 27, 2022
He wasn’t involved much otherwise.
Mycole Pruitt got as wide open as you can get for a touchdown after leaking out to the end zone on a designed misdirection.
#Falcons TE Mycole Pruitt has two touchdowns on six targets this season.
Kyle Pitts has two touchdowns on 59 targets this season. pic.twitter.com/fIiOX9CSop
— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) November 27, 2022
Olamide Zaccheaus led the team in targets because he kept finding himself open. He did have one go right through his hands and another sail over his head on back-to-back plays, so he could have had an even bigger day. On their final drive, Zaccheaus was the beneficiary of a great play by Mariota to recover from tripping over his own man. Mariota then threw it downfield to Zaccheaus, who was wide open and had plenty of room to run. He took it for 45 yards and put the Falcons in a spot to win the game.
Taylor Heinicke: 14/23, 138 Yards, 2 TD, INT | 1 Carry, -1 Yards
As I mentioned in the opening blurb, it seemed like this game would be a ground-and-pound game from the get-go due to the rain, and it mostly was, but Taylor Heinicke came out slinging on the first drive and went 4/4 for 63 yards and a TD to Brian Robinson. After that, however, the Commanders realized that they’d pretty much be able to run the ball at will for most of the day and didn’t ask Heinicke to do too much.
As you can imagine, Heinicke was his trick-or-treat self in this game. He made a nice play on 3rd down to roll out, evade pressure, and hit Terry McLaurin to extend a drive, making a nice throw on the run to hit Terry in stride. Besides the opening drive, this was his most notable play. Otherwise, it was bad Taylor who showed up when the ball was in his hands.
He made an awful, awful, awful throw into quadruple coverage right before the half after getting fantastic field position at the Falcons’ 47 yard line. To his credit, he threw the ball to a wide-open defender. But this throw could have been picked off by four different defenders and it was simply a terrible decision.
.@MykalWalker3 takes the ball RIGHT BACK
? FOX || NFL+ pic.twitter.com/nJwZ74IhSQ
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) November 27, 2022
Heinicke also nearly had a disastrous fumble. As he was getting sacked, he made the decision to underhand flip the ball out to Antonio Gibson. It came within inches of being a fumble and Heinicke breathed a big sigh of relief.
On a 3rd down in the red zone, Heinicke was again under pressure. He rolled out, had Scary Terry wide open in the end zone for an easy TD, but overthrew him. It seemed like the ball slipped out of his hand as he threw.
Finally, Heinicke also almost had another disastrous interception. On 3rd and 15, Heinicke threw to his left to an open McLaurin. Falcons’ corner AJ Terrell recognized it, jumped it, and dove to take the ball away from McLaurin. The throw was a bit of a duck, which gave Terrell enough time to recover and get to the ball. Fortunately, the Terrell couldn’t get both hands under the ball in time and it hit the ground so the throw was ruled incomplete.
All of this is to say that, despite the win, Heinicke played relatively poorly after the opening drive and nearly gave the game away multiple times.
Brian Robinson Jr.: 18 Carries, 105 Yards | 3 Targets, 2 Receptions, 20 Yards, TD
Antonio Gibson: 9 Carries, 32 Yards | 3 Targets, 3 Receptions, 22 Yards
I’ve watched Brian Robinson and the Commanders more than I’d like to admit this season, and he hasn’t truly impressed me yet. He doesn’t hit holes running full steam ahead a la Derrick Henry despite his size. I can’t speak for him, but it seems like he isn’t processing everything very quickly. That should hopefully come with time, and when it does I feel like he’ll be a force. Case in point, his touchdown catch out of the backfield where he ran over another grown man and pounded his way into the end zone.
Brian Robinson just trucked his way into the endzone. No stopping the rookie on this one. pic.twitter.com/8Qxx5Zeo59
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) November 27, 2022
With that said, Robinson is still getting a ton of volume in this offense and he did look very good today. The Falcons’ defensive front was manhandled by the Commanders’ offensive line for much of the day, allowing Washington to run for 176 yards as a team. Robinson led the way with 105 yards of his own, but it still feels like he has room for growth. That should be a scary thought for fans of the NFC East.
Washington continues to look for creative ways to get the ball in Antonio Gibson‘s hands. He ran a jet sweep, lined up in the slot multiple times, and seemed to fall forward every time he was tackled. He’s a valuable piece of this offense, but unfortunately, he’s not always fantasy relevant.
Brian Robinson said his friend has a “big hat” company. “If you want a big hat, let me know.” pic.twitter.com/KXm3GCJWO1
— Sam Fortier (@Sam4TR) November 27, 2022
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Terry McLaurin: 1 Carry, 5 Yards | 6 Targets, 4 Receptions, 48 Yards
John Bates: 4 Targets, 3 Receptions, 24 Yards, TD
Dyami Brown: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 17 Yards
Logan Thomas: 3 Targets, 1 Reception, 7 Yards
Curtis Samuel: 4 Carries, 13 Yards
Jahan Dotson: 1 Target
Cole Turner: 1 Target
Not much to talk about this group either. Terry McLaurin had two catches on the first drive and looked like he was going to have a big day despite the rain, but unfortunately, they went the way of the run for the rest of the day. He was wide open for a touchdown at one point but Heinicke overthrew him. I would chalk this up to a weather day rather than poor play.
Dyami Brown had a really nice diving catch on the Commanders’ first drive but was invisible after that. Logan Thomas saw a ton of snaps but only three targets, and John Bates caught a touchdown in the end zone. He nearly had a second touchdown but Heinicke threw it late and Bates couldn’t get both feet down in bounds. Curtis Samuel had four carries but no targets.