NEW ORLEANS – There was plenty of hype surrounding Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints, for obvious reasons.
The Falcons made a quarterback switch, setting Desmond Ridder up to make his NFL debut. And a win was essential to keep legitimate NFC South hopes alive.
A win here at Caesers Superdome would set the Falcons up well for a big finish. It would also mean Ridder got off to a good start.
A loss would count as a severe setback.
The result was unwelcome, a 21-18 loss to the rival Saints that came down to the wire.
Let’s dive deeper into this one and see what stood out during this Week 15 contest.
Rapid reaction to Ridder’s first day
Falcons fans were focused on Desmond Ridder Sunday afternoon, when he made his NFL debut in New Orleans. The third-round pick had his fair share of rookie moments in this one, as you’d expect but, just watching the game live (while writing this story) he showed solid arm strength, elusiveness in the pocket and a strong connection with fellow rookie Drake London.
London received the lion’s target share, totaling seven catches for 70 yards on 11 targets. The Falcons still had a tough time moving the ball consistently through the air. Ridder certainly wants a few throws back – there were two near interceptions that ended up being ultimately incomplete – but there were some positive signs that may not show up as overwhelming stats.
His stat line won’t wow you. It may even raise an eyebrow. 13-for-26 for 97 yards isn’t good. NFL rookie debuts rarely are at the quarterback position. He stayed away from mistakes that became critical, though, which kept the Falcons in it late when combined with an explosive run game.
And, as we all know, quarterbacks are judged on wins and losses, appropriately or not. The Falcons were in it, and the defense gave Ridder the ball had seven minutes left to go get three points to tie or more to win. That ended prematurely, with Desmond Ridder throwing a fourth-down strike to Drake London, who fumbled a ball that the Saints recovered. Hard to blame that outcome on the quarterback, though.
Turns out, Ridder got another shot. Though there wasn’t much time on the clock. The last-ditch attempt didn’t work out, though, as the Falcons ended up losing a tough one.
The passing game wasn’t efficient enough, though Ridder has the tools required to play at this level. Over time, chemistry and sync could improve to the point that the air attack becomes more of a weapon than it is right now.
View more on Youtube Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints | 2022 Week 15 Game Highlights
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