Falcons’ Marcus Mariota scores 3 touchdowns as Atlanta upends 49ers

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Marcus Mariota threw a pair of touchdown passes and ran for another score against the NFL’s top-ranked defense, leading the Atlanta Falcons to a 28-14 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Mariota completed his first 13 passes for the Falcons (3-3), finally throwing his lone incompletion on his final attempt of the day with less than 11 minutes remaining. He finished with 129 yards through the air in Atlanta’s conservative passing game, also rushing for 50 yards on six carries.

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Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota (1) runs against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022, in Atlanta. 

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota (1) runs against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022, in Atlanta. 
(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The Niners (3-3) couldn’t overcome two interceptions by Jimmy Garoppolo and a fumble that was returned for a touchdown by the Falcons.

Kyle Pitts caught his first TD pass of the season and just the second of his 22-game career, hauling in a 7-yard throw from Mariota that prompted the young tight end to break out the vintage “Dirty Bird” dance.

Veteran tight end MyCole Pruitt, who was elevated from the practice squad for the game, collected the other scoring pass from Mariota, a 2-yarder to cap an 11-play, 74-yard drive on Atlanta’s opening possession.

Mariota bootlegged it in from the 3 in the final minute of the first half to the put the Falcons ahead to stay, 21-14.

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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) is stripped of the ball by Atlanta Falcons defensive end Grady Jarrett (97) and San Francisco 49ers guard Aaron Banks (65) recovers the fumble during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022, in Atlanta. 

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) is stripped of the ball by Atlanta Falcons defensive end Grady Jarrett (97) and San Francisco 49ers guard Aaron Banks (65) recovers the fumble during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022, in Atlanta. 
(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Atlanta’s defense outshined the Niners’ touted unit, making things tough on Garoppolo, limiting San Francisco to 50 yards rushing and even scoring a touchdown of its own.

On a third-and-1 plunge into the line, Jeff Wilson had the ball knocked away by Rashaan Evans. A.J. Terrell scooped it up at the San Francisco 21 and took off for the end zone. He fumbled, too, trying to stretch for a TD, but teammate Jaylin Hawkins gobbled up the loose ball to put the Falcons ahead 14-0.

San Francisco tied it with touchdowns on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter, both of them on TD throws to Brandon Aiyuk.

Garoppolo connected with Aiyuk on a 12-yard score, the Falcons went three-and-out, Ray-Ray McCloud broke off a 35-yard punt return, and Garoppolo returned to Aiyuk for a 14-yard TD toss.

But that was about all the offense the Niners could muster. The Falcons controlled the clock by outrushing San Francisco 168-50 on a season-high 40 carries.

INJURIES

49ers: Already without DE Nick Bosa because of a groin injury, San Francisco lost two more starters during the game. CB Charvarius Ward (groin) and OT Mike McGlinchey (left calf) both hobbled off the field in the first half and didn’t return. WR Ray-Ray McCloud III and S Talanoa Hufunga also missed time being evaluated for possible concussions. Both were cleared to return to the game.

Falcons: CB A.J. Terrell (thigh) was injured in the second half and didn’t return. Atlanta’s other starting corner, Casey Hayward, also hobbled off late in the game with a shoulder injury.

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UP NEXT

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota (1) runs into the end zone for a touchdown against San Francisco 49ers cornerback Samuel Womack III (26) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022, in Atlanta. 

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota (1) runs into the end zone for a touchdown against San Francisco 49ers cornerback Samuel Womack III (26) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022, in Atlanta. 
(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

49ers: Return home from two weeks on the East Coast to host the Kansas City Chiefs next Sunday.

Falcons: Wrap up a tough stretch of games to begin the season by traveling to Cincinnati to face the defending AFC champion Bengals on Sunday.

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