Jets 24, Falcons 16: Penalties Spark Atlanta Collapse

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The Falcons beat themselves tonight.

The Atlanta Falcons are heading back to the Peach State without a win, falling to the New York Jets 24-16 at Metlife Stadium.

This certainly didn’t look like it would be the outcome after the Falcons held a 16-0 lead late in the first half, but second-half struggles and a whole lot of penalties pushed Atlanta on the losing side of tonight’s game.

Luckily for the Falcons, majority of the players who suited up in the second half won’t be the ones out there on gameday during the season. The first-stringers made the most of the time they had in the first half.

The Falcons kicked off the opening drive with a bang as Marcus Mariota threw a laser to a wide open Kyle Pitts for a 52-yard gain. However, the Falcons struggled in the red zone and managed just three points on the drive.

After stopping the Jets on their first drive, the Falcons got the ball back and found more success.

Led by a 39-yard completion from Mariota to tight end Anthony Firkser on a miscommunication by the Jets secondary, the Falcons marched down the field for a six-play, 75-yard touchdown drive.

Rookie running back Tyler Allgeier saw a pair of physical carries for five well-earned yards and free agent wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge pulled in a 13-yard reception to move the chains earlier in the drive.

The series was capped off by a 13-yard touchdown from Mariota to Olamide Zaccheaus on 3rd and 9, beating cornerback Bryce Hall.

Mariota led one more drive, which led to a three-and-out. His final stat line? 6-of-10 for 132 yards and a touchdown.

Desmond Ridder entered the game and appeared to pick up where Mariota left off. He led a 13-play, 75-yard drive that saw the Falcons drive all the way to the 1-yard line, but a Jalen Mayfield false start on 4th-and-goal forced Younghoe Koo to kick another field goal, extending the lead to 13-0.

Ridder’s final drive of the first half saw the Falcons rack up five big penalties, but a pair of big catches from Week 1 preseason hero Jared Bernhardt put the team in field goal range as Koo knocked in another field goal.

However, in a tale of two halves, the third and fourth quarter belonged to the Jets.

Backup quarterback Chris Streveler led a pair of touchdown drives to put the Jets ahead 17-16 early in the fourth quarter. On the Falcons’ first drive of the fourth quarter, Feleipe Franks fumbled the ball after a strip sack and Jets defensive end Bradlee Anae scooped up the football and scored to build an eight-point lead.

The Falcons had a chance to tie, but failed to convert 4th-and-goal, leaving the Jets to kill the clock and secure the comeback victory.

While the overall result isn’t what the Falcons wanted, the starters who played looked sound and there’s a lot to build on. But tonight’s loss exposed a ton of flaws in the Falcons, specifically with penalties.

With 13 penalties costing the team 121 yards, the Falcons beat themselves tonight. And they need to clean that up before the games begin to count.

The Falcons host the Jacksonville Jaguars in the team’s preseason finale. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. Saturday.

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