Jets vs. Falcons score, takeaways: Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder sharp for Atlanta in defeat

Jets vs. Falcons score, takeaways: Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder sharp for Atlanta in defeat

The New York Jets topped the Atlanta Falcons, 24-16, in the final game of preseason Week 2. 

Atlanta took a 16-0 lead in the first half behind efficient performances from both Marcus Mariota (6 of 10 for 132 yards and a touchdown) and Desmond Ridder (10 of 13 for 143 yards), but New York rallied for a late-second-quarter field goal drive and then staged a post-halftime comeback once the deep backups entered the game.

The Jets got their touchdowns courtesy of wide receiver Lawrence Cager on a 34-yard crossing route, running back La’Mical Perine on a seven-yard run that he bounced to the edge out of a crowded box, and edge rusher Bradlee Anae on a fumble recovery that he took to the house to give New York the lead for good. Atlanta had one last chance to tie the game toward the end of the fourth quarter, but Felipe Franks’ pass sailed over the head of tight end Anthony Firkser and went out of bounds. 

Why the Jets won

Well, mostly because their third-string offense found a way to move the ball, and Atlanta’s did not. It began with a drive late in the first half, on which Denzel Mims made the big play to get the team into field goal range. After halftime, Chris Streveler made some plays with his arm and his legs, including a touchdown toss to Cager and multiple scrambles that kept drives alive. Meanwhile, New York’s defense held Franks to just 2 of 6 passing for eight yards after giving up 275 yards to Mariota and Ridder on just 23 attempts. 

Why the Falcons lost

Franks and the third-string offense got completely shut down by the Jets defense, while Streveler was able to find some holes in Atlanta’s coverage unit that weren’t available to Mike White for much of the first half. Plus, Atlanta’s offensive line failed to create any rushing lanes for Caleb Huntley, who was repeatedly stopped at or around the line of scrimmage, including on a couple of short-yardage opportunities. Plus, Franks was not accurate when counted on to throw the ball. 

Highlight play

With New York holding a 1-point lead early in the fourth quarter, the Falcons faced a third-and-8 from their own 40-yard line. That’s when Anae made what turned out to be the game-clinching play. 

Anae did an excellent job not biting too hard on Franks’ play-action fake and sticking with the quarterback as he attempted to scramble out to the left side. He dove and got enough of Franks’ legs to get the quarterback to the ground, where his attempt to brace his fall with the football resulted in a fumble. From there, all Anae had to do was pick it up and take it to the end zone himself. 

What’s next

The Jets square off against their MetLife Stadium brethren, the New York Giants, in their final preseason game of the 2022 season. The Jets are technically the home team for that matchup, for whatever that’s worth. They’ll look to improve to 3-0 in their tune-up games before getting ready for the Ravens in Week 1. 

The Falcons host the Jacksonville Jaguars in their final preseason contest. That game will take place Saturday at 3 p.m. They’ll then have a bit more than two weeks to get ready for their season opener against the division rival New Orleans Saints.

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