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Falcons Offensive Line Rebounds in Victory Over Jaguars

Atlanta Falcons rushed for a season-high 150 yards in a 21-14 victory against Jacksonville.

The Atlanta Falcons elected to keep the status quo along the offensive line in Week 12 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. That proved to be the correct decision.

The Falcons offensive line played one of its best games of the season in a 21-14 victory against the Jaguars on Sunday. While that's not saying much -- just about anything would have been an upgrade from the dismal performance 10 days ago -- it's still reassuring that the group responded to adversity after several poor showings to begin November.

Atlanta's offensive line hit rock bottom in Week 11 when it allowed New England's front seven to completely dominate for four quarters. The Patriots had four sacks and six tackles for loss. They seemed to spend the entire game in the backfield, as the Falcons offensive line also allowed a season-high 12 quarterback hits.

It was a different story in Jacksonville. The Jaguars had just one sack, two tackles for loss and four quarterback hits. The four quarterback hits is the lowest amount the Falcons have allowed all season. The one sack was the fewest since Week 7.

While the opponent this week was the now 2-9 Jaguars, Jacksonville came into the week with a strong pass rush. Entering Sunday, the Jaguars were ninth in quarterback pressure percentage at 26.5%. That means Jacksonville was pressuring opposing signal callers on more than a quarter of their drop backs.

For comparison, the Patriots, who seemed to pressure Matt Ryan on every play, were tied for seventh in quarterback pressure percentage at 26.6%.

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Unfortunately, the better pass protection didn't lead to all that much better of a day for Ryan. The veteran quarterback wasn't at his very best, and the Falcons offense is still struggling without Calvin Ridley. 

But the improved offensive line play led to a better ground attack. Much better, in fact, as Atlanta had its best day rushing in 2021.

The Falcons ran for a season-high 149 yards. Of course, the return of Cordarrelle Patterson helped, as he led the way with a career-high 108 rushing yards and 6.8 yards per carry. 

Still, the holes were much bigger than when the Falcons averaged 2.5 yards per carry against  New England. As much as Patterson was running angry Sunday, the line was blocking with an edge, too.

Jacksonville was third in rushing yards allowed per carry (3.9) and 12th in rushing yards yielded before Sunday.

With the way Atlanta's offensive line has played this season, though, one good game doesn't mean the issues up front are fixed. The O-line will need to continue opening up holes in the running game and protecting Ryan to prove that another high draft pick isn't needed for the unit.

But Sunday was a step in the right direction.