ATLANTA (AP) — Desmond Reeder shook off an interception on his first throw and led the Atlanta Falcons to their first preseason home win since 2016, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars 28-12 on Saturday.
Both teams relied primarily on backups and rosters in their preseason finale, with the Falcons (2-1) coming off a third-round draft pick from Cincinnati.
Playing in the fourth quarter, Ridder completed 14 of 25 passes for 185 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown toss to fellow rookie Tyler Allgeier in the first quarter.
Rider also led two impressive second-half touchdown drives before calling it a day against the Jaguars (0-4).
There was an eight-play, 90-yard drive in which the rookie completed all three of his passes for 69 yards before Caleb Huntley’s 1-yard scoring run. Falcon then drove 80 yards in 14 plays, with Ridder completing three more passes before Allgeier scored his second TD of the day on a 4-yard run.
Atlanta had lost eight straight preseason home games since moving to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2017.
EJ Perry went the distance in the quarter for the Jaguars. He completed 19 of 27 for 201 yards, with a pair of interceptions.
Perry connected with Laquon Treadwell on a 7-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds left in the first half to cut Atlanta’s lead to 14-12.
On the first play from scrimmage, Ridder threw an errant pass up the middle that was picked off by Daniel Thomas. Jaguars safety returned it 10 yards to the Atlanta 35, setting up James McCourt’s 54-yard field goal.
McCourt also connected from 38 yards out, while Jake Verity went wide left on a 46-yard attempt.
In their search for a reliable kicker, the Jaguars have tested four contenders during the preseason.
Ryan Santoso was let go Tuesday, the same day the team asked McCourt to resign. Then on Friday, the Jaguars added Verity to the roster to give McCourt some competition in the preseason finale.
Special teams set up an Atlanta TD.
Quinton Bell ran right past Jacksonville’s Josh Thompson to smother a Logan Cook layup. DeAngelo Malone recovered the blocked kick at the Jaguars 1 and Qadree Ollison ran it in for a touchdown on the next play to make it 14-6.
Both teams sat their No. 1 quarterback.
Trevor Lawrence, the top overall pick in the 2021 draft, had an easy 2nd year of his NFL career after playing in two preseason games for the Jaguars.
Looking to jump-start his career, Marcus Mariota has locked up Atlanta’s starting job in the post-Matt Ryan era. Ridder will serve as his backup.
The Falcons’ defense was boosted by the return of Deion Jones, who suited up three days after being activated from the physically unable to perform list.
Jones, a starter since being drafted by the Falcons in 2016, faces an uncertain future in Atlanta, but at least he’s fully recovered from right shoulder surgery.
Falcons ILB Dorian Etheridge was carted off the field late in the second quarter after suffering a serious left knee injury on a Jaguars running game. Etheridge was fighting for a roster spot after playing in five games a year ago as an undrafted rookie out of Louisville.
Jaguars: Start the regular season Sept. 11 at Washington against the Commanders.
Falcons: They remain at home for their opener on Sept. 11 against NFC South rival New Orleans.
Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL