QB Desmond Ridder impressive in preseason debut, Falcons settle for 13-13 tie with Bengals



ATLANTA (AP) — Desmond Ridder led an impressive drive for Atlanta in his preseason debut and the Falcons settled for a field goal with 2 seconds left for a 13-13 tie with the Cincinnati Bengals on Friday night.

After sitting the starters last week in a 19-3 victory at Miami, the Falcons (1-0-1) went with the ones for their opening possession.

Ridder completed 7 of 9 passes for 80 yards and also broke off a 7-yard run before the drive ended with an interception off a deflected pass. Cornerback Mike Hilton appeared to make contact with intended receiver Scotty Miller before the throw arrived, but no flag was thrown. The ball bounced into the air and was picked off by defensive end Joseph Ossai.

Despite the interception, it was a promising start to 2023 for the young quarterback who carries Atlanta’s hopes of breaking a streak of five straight losing seasons.

As a rookie, Ridder started four games at the end of last season, leading the Falcons to a 2-2 record and persuading coach Arthur Smith that he can handle the job.

After a snoozer of a game, the final minute provided some dramatics in a largely empty stadium, with a bunch of backups and roster hopefuls on the field.

Jake Browning guided an 80-yard drive to that put the Bengals (0-1-1) ahead 13-10 with 50 seconds remaining. He completed four passes for 42 yards and scrambled twice for another 33 yards, setting up Chase Brown’s 1-yard touchdown run with 50 seconds remaining.

But Atlanta third-stringer Logan Woodside connected on three straight passes for 53 yards before a third-down throw in the end zone was batted down. To a smattering of boos, the Falcons sent out Younghoe Koo for a tying 45-yard field goal with two seconds left.

Ridder and Atlanta’s other offensive starters only played the first series before calling it a night. First-round pick Bijan Robinson was among them, carrying the ball four times for 20 yards and hauling in a 6-yard pass in his preseason debut.

The Bengals went with Trevor Siemian in the first half while franchise quarterback Joe Burrow continues his recovery from a calf injury. Burrow came up hobbling after scrambling at a training camp practice on July 27.

Siemian was 7 of 14 for 62 yards, guiding the Bengals into position for Eva McPherson’s 50-yard field goal on the final play of the first half, sending the teams to the locker room tied at 3.

Taylor Heinicke, the former Washington starter who signed in free agency to back up Ridder, was 13 of 21 for 162 yards and hooked up with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside on a 28-yard completion that up the Falcons’ only touchdown. Carlos Washington Jr. took it in from the 1.


Zac Taylor’s challenge game is still working out the preseason kinks.

The Bengals coach challenged two calls in the first half — only to lose a pair of timeouts when both rulings were upheld.

Drake London’s 21-yard reception was allowed to stand for the Falcons, while a video review confirmed that Cincinnati’s Kwamie Lassiter didn’t get both feet down on a throw along the sideline.


Yellow was the predominant color in a sloppy first half.

The Falcons were flagged 10 times for 62 yards in penalties, while the Bengals were hit three times for 25 yards.


Atlanta WR KhaDarel Hodge went down in the first half with a left ankle injury and didn’t return. … Another Falcons receiver, Penny Hart, appeared to hit his head on the turf after being sandwiched between two defenders while attempting to make a fourth-down catch. Hart came up groggy and walked slowly off the field with the trainers.


Bengals: Head to Washington to face the Commanders in their final preseason game Aug. 26.

Falcons: Host the Pittsburgh Steelers in their preseason finale next Thursday night.

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