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Arthur Smith: Falcons need ‘more points’ in red zone

Dec 24, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA;  Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith  during the first half against Baltimore Ravens  at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a season of close calls for the Atlanta Falcons, but the team’s inability to score touchdowns proved costly once again in a 17-9 loss to the host Baltimore Ravens on Saturday.

Three Younghoe Koo field goals accounted for all of Atlanta’s scoring, as coach Arthur Smith’s team failed to score 20 points for the fourth consecutive game — and for the sixth time in its last seven.

The Falcons (5-10) entered the red zone four times against the Ravens (10-5) and failed to score a touchdown each time. An inability to score TDs has plagued Atlanta all season long, and it’s a big reason why the Falcons were eliminated from playoff contention with two games still left to play.

“We obviously need more points. I’m not going to rationalize that,” Smith said. “There are different things that have come up. You get down there, you get a penalty — at the end of the half. Another time, we’ve got to be better operationally, just some things mechanically. And one of ’em you’ve got to make a decision to kick a field goal because of the situation in the game.

“It’s a fine line to make excuses and rationalize them but it’s just the reality of the situation. Again, if we thought it was some epidemic when you’re top 10 in the league, but, clearly, we need more points. That’s for sure.”

Despite the team’s struggles in the red zone, quarterback Desmond Ridder showed progress in his second career start against a solid Baltimore defense. The 6-foot-3, 207-pound rookie completed 22 of 33 passes for 218 yards despite being sacked twice.

“I thought he did a nice job,” Smith said. “We were in a little more of a drop-back game, which was good to see from him. I thought he delivered, especially as the game went on, and made some critical throws in critical situations. That’s what I saw. We came up short, which is frustrating. But I thought he made a lot of progress.”

Atlanta’s running game didn’t churn up yards as it normally does squaring off against one of the top run defenses in the league. However, tailback Tyler Allgeier continued his effective rookie campaign by rushing for 74 yards on 18 carries. He added four receptions for 43 yards.

Fellow rookie Drake London had team highs in receptions (seven) and yards (96) for the third consecutive game. He is 301 receiving yards shy of 1,000.

Atlanta has lost four consecutive games and six of its last seven, but Smith is focused on winning with an upcoming home game against the struggling Arizona Cardinals (4-11) on Sunday.

“This is an important game for us. We need to play well and we need to go win,” Smith said. “It’s important to win at home. It’s important to win short term. Obviously, we came up short of our goal. But the next step, we need to finish this out right. We need to win.”

–Rookie Troy Andersen has seen his playing time increase in recent weeks. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound linebacker had two tackles and a forced fumble in the loss to Baltimore. He has 58 total tackles on the year.

–Second-year safety Richie Grant had a team-high 10 tackles against the Ravens. He ranks second on the team in tackles (107 tackles) and is tied for first in interceptions (two). Veteran linebacker Rashaan Evans (150 tackles) leads Atlanta in stops.

–Field Level Media