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Marcus Mariota Proving Himself as Falcons Starting Quarterback?

After coming under fire in the loss to the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons' quarterback Marcus Mariota proved himself again in the 27-24 win over the Chicago Bears.

The 27-24 win over the Chicago Bears at home on Sunday afternoon was good for the Atlanta Falcons for more reasons than one. After dropping two straight games and surrendering the lead in the NFC South, the Falcons remain in contention for a division title. Yet, it was especially good for quarterback Marcus Mariota. 

Nobody received more criticism and attention than Mariota after Atlanta's 25-15 loss to the Carolina Panthers last week. Mariota and the offense struggled. After a couple of ill-advised throws, an interception, and five sacks later, the calls for a change could not have been louder. But, head coach Arthur Smith decided to stick with his veteran signal-caller, meaning it was time for Mariota to bounce back.

Smith's belief paid off as the Falcons' offense returned to their roots, running the ball down their opponent's throat and asking for his quarterback to be efficient.

On a day when Atlanta rushed for 149 yards while having 11 fewer minutes of possession, Mariota did exactly what was needed. The 29-year-old completed 13 of his 20 passes for 131 yards and one touchdown through the air while adding one with his legs. 

Mariota never really put the ball in danger and was never sacked, while looking sharp from the onset as he completed 4 of 5 passes on the Falcons' first drive that ended with the two-yard touchdown pass to Drake London. "He came out," Smith said about Mariota, "and I thought he executed the first drive really well. ..." 

"He handled it all," Smith continued, "it wasn't perfect; it never is, but it says a lot about his character."

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Mariota didn't garner the fancy numbers, like throwing for over 200 yards or multiple touchdowns. But the Falcons' offense, as currently constructed, doesn't call for that. So instead, they need him to be a distributor and manage the game. 

Mariota certainly did both things on Sunday, distributing the ball to nine different playmakers while never turning the ball over and managing Atlanta's go-ahead two-minute drive. 

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