The Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder had his best game as a professional on Sunday, leading his team to a 21-19 victory over the Houston Texans at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Ridder, who had faced criticism for his turnovers and accuracy in previous games, silenced his doubters with a career-high 329 yards passing and two touchdowns, one through the air and one on the ground. He also avoided any interceptions and showed his mobility by scrambling for 47 yards on six carries.
Ridder was especially impressive in the final drive of the game, when he completed all five of his passes for 61 yards, setting up Younghoe Koo’s game-winning 37-yard field goal as time expired. Ridder’s clutch performance earned him praise from his coach Arthur Smith, who said Ridder was “pretty damn good” and had “the right mindset” to be a successful quarterback in the NFL.
Falcons’ offense clicks with Ridder
Ridder’s breakout game also helped the Falcons’ offense find its rhythm and balance, as he connected with his receivers and tight ends for big plays. Drake London had seven catches for 94 yards, Kyle Pitts had six catches for 89 yards and a touchdown, and Jonnu Smith had six catches for 60 yards. Even fullback Keith Smith got into the action with a 28-yard reception that Ridder said was his favorite pass of the game.
The Falcons’ passing attack complemented their running game, which featured Bijan Robinson as the lead back. Robinson had 18 carries for 76 yards and a touchdown, and also added three catches for 21 yards. Robinson’s touchdown run in the second quarter was a highlight-reel play, as he used a behind-the-back move and a crossover to elude two defenders and reach the end zone.
Texans fall short despite Stroud’s effort
The Texans put up a valiant fight against the Falcons, but could not overcome their mistakes and missed opportunities. Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud had a solid game, throwing for 268 yards and two touchdowns, but also lost a fumble and threw an interception. Stroud’s favorite target was Tim David, who had seven catches for 113 yards and a touchdown. Cameron Green also had a big day, scoring a 52-yard touchdown on a reverse play and adding four catches for 42 yards.
The Texans’ defense did a good job of limiting the Falcons’ running game, but could not stop Ridder from making plays with his arm and legs. The Texans also settled for four field goals instead of touchdowns, which proved costly in the end. The Texans had a chance to win the game with less than two minutes left, but Stroud’s pass on fourth-and-10 was incomplete, giving the ball back to the Falcons.