Former BYU quarterback Steve Sarkisian is in his first season as offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, and after the Falcons reached last year’s Super Bowl with the NFL’s top-scoring offense, expectations were high.
Sarkisian has been criticized, as Atlanta saw its offensive scoring production go from 33.8 points per game in 2016 to 22.1 this season, which ranks 15th in the league.
But in Saturday’s 26-13 wild-card playoff win for the Falcons over the Los Angeles Rams, Sarkisian earned praise from Pro Football Weekly’s Eric Edholm for his gameplan that helped slow this year’s top-scoring offense, the Rams. The win came at the Coliseum in Los Angeles, where Sarkisian was coached before being fired as USC’s head coach.
Edholm lauded the Falcons for their ability, and gameplan, to control time of possession, as Atlanta held the ball offensively for over 37 minutes in the contest. In the third quarter, the Falcons held the ball for 13:07, using a ground game that earned 124 rushing yards to grind out the victory.
“What must Saturday night have felt for Sarkisian? The much-maligned play caller, who has drawn the ire of the Falcons’ Kyle Shanahan-longing fans, was at the center of the victory. That Sarkisian had perhaps his best and most important game in his new job — in the old building of his one-time dream job — cannot be overlooked,” Edholm wrote.
Reid’s playoff legacy
The weekend didn’t turn out nearly as positive for another former BYU player, Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid. He saw his record as a coach in the playoffs drop to 11-13 as the Chiefs blew a 21-3 halftime lead in their 22-21 wild-card loss to the Tennessee Titans.
The Ringer’s Danny Kelly took a look at Reid’s struggles in the postseason and how they relate to Kansas City’s collapse against the Titans. This loss featured a second half that saw the Chiefs put up only 61 yards of total offense after the break.
"Instead of taking a step toward exorcising his postseason demons, Reid shined a spotlight right on his most glaring fault. It felt like a game that only Andy Reid could lose," Kelly wrote.
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Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota pulled off an ultra rare play in the Titans’ win over the Chiefs: completing a pass to himself and scoring a touchdown on the play. It happened on a third-down play in the third quarter when a Mariota pass was tipped by Kansas City’s Darrelle Revis, right back to Mariota, who took it in for the score.