Falcons' defensive effort against Chiefs gives hope for the future

The Atlanta Falcons put up one of the best defensive performances of the season against the Kansas City Chiefs, but couldn't close out yet another game in a 17-14 loss.

We knew going into this game that the Falcons defense was much improved, but the Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes were going to be a different kind of test. Given how much the Chiefs have embarrassed some defenses this season, it's safe to say that the Falcons passed that test.

Atlanta came out strong in the first half as they've done many times this season. Mahomes went 0-of-5 on passes of 10-plus air yards in the first half, after having completed multiple passes of 10-plus air yards in all but one game during his career (2019 at Broncos when he was injured).

The Chiefs scored their first points with 30 seconds left in the first half -- the latest into a regular-season game they have recorded their first points with Mahomes at quarterback. The Falcons also held the Chiefs to just 7 points through three quarters, their fewest through three quarters since Week 11 of the 2017 season.

Atlanta's offense couldn't quite hold up their end of the bargain to come out of Kansas City with an upset. Outside of a 54-yard reception from Calvin Ridley, it was much of the same inconsistent offense for the Falcons. Matt Ryan completed 27 of 35 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns.

The Falcons had a chance to tie the game at the end with a 39-yard field goal attempt from Younghoe Koo, who had made his previous 27 attempts. Unfortunately for the Falcons, the kick hooked right, and a grand defensive performance went to waste.

Buy Grady Jarrett's breakout performance: Jarrett was already one of the NFL's best defensive tackles going into this game, but his performance against this particular offense is worth highlighting. The Falcons didn't sack Mahomes on Sunday, but Jarrett got two hits on him, and was seemingly involved in most of the Falcons' most impactful defensive plays. Great players make those around them better, and Jarrett was a prime example of that against Kansas City.

Pivotal play: A.J. Terrell's dropped interception of Mahomes with 2:01 left in the game. The Chiefs had all three timeouts, so it may not have been the final play. However, it would have been better for the Falcons than the alternative, which was a 25-yard touchdown from Mahomes to Demarcus Robinson on the very next play.

If you're searching for a positive: the Chiefs tried a trick play with 9:30 left in the second quarter, when Sammy Watkins attempted to complete a pass to Mahomes that was intercepted by Keanu Neal at the Falcons' 2-yard line. It turned into a 98-yard touchdown drive by the Falcons that was highlighted by a 54-yard reception by Ridley, topped off with a shovel pass to Hayden Hurst. A 98-yard drive and a red zone touchdown for the Falcons is no small feat this year.

Silver lining: The Falcons didn't hurt their draft stock for a fourth consecutive week. To reiterate from last week: nothing the Falcons have shown has indicated that they are trying to lose. They had one of the best defensive performances any team has put together against the Chiefs' daunting offense.

At this point in the season given everything the Falcons have shown, you take that with one week left to go in the season and a chance to improve your football team in the offseason.