Falcons, Ridder top Texans, Stroud in a game of fourth-quarter fireworks

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Desmond Ridder (9) and the Falcons had the final say in a thrilling win over C.J. Stroud and the Texans. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA — It’s never easy for the Atlanta Falcons. After taking a fourth-quarter lead against the surprisingly resilient Houston Texans, Atlanta saw C.J. Stroud march right down the field to reclaim the lead. Desmond Ridder then brought Atlanta into Younghoe Koo‘s field goal range, and Koo nailed the 37-yard field goal with no time on the clock for a 21-19 victory …

… but there were flags on the field.

After a few nervous moments, officials confirmed two penalties, both on the defense, and the Falcons could at last celebrate their third win of the season.

Much of the game was a slog, with Houston kicking four straight field goals and Atlanta stuck in neutral outside of one Ridder touchdown. But two different teams seemed to take the field for the fourth quarter.

Down 12-7, the Falcons put together drives of 13 and nine plays to score a combined 11 points and claim an 18-12 lead. Stroud then saddled up and led the Texans on an 11-play, 75-yard drive capped with a magnificent pinpoint touchdown pass to a wide-open Dalton Schultz. Stroud also set the NFL record for most pass attempts to start a career without an interception (177).

But the Texans defense couldn’t hold the line, and Ridder — the subject of so much ridicule all season — came through, orchestrating a deft 51-yard drive to put Atlanta in Koo’s range.

Ridder finished with 28 completions on 37 attempts for 329 yards and a touchdown. Stroud was 20 of 35 for 249 yards and that late go-ahead touchdown. Both quarterbacks spread the ball around, with Ridder targeting 11 receivers and Stroud targeting eight.

This story will be updated.

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