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Falcons HC Arthur Smith says Taylor Heinicke will remain starter vs. Cardinals

Taylor Heinicke provided the Atlanta Falcons with the spark they desperately needed in Week 9. Despite the loss, he's earned the right to lead the offense again in Week 10.

Heinicke will start at quarterback against Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, Falcons coach Arthur Smith announced on Monday, adding he and his staff will re-evaluate the position during the team's Week 11 bye week.

Heinicke earned the starting job in Week 9 after performing better than Desmond Ridder in relief of the second-year signal-caller in Week 8, and nearly led the Falcons to a home win over Minnesota before backup Josh Dobbs pulled off an unlikely comeback at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Heinicke completed 21 of 38 passes for 268 yards and one touchdown, while rushing three times for 20 additional yards on the ground.

His lone significant mistake -- an ugly interception thrown late in the third quarter -- led to a pivotal 31-yard field goal converted by Vikings kicker Greg Joseph, giving Minnesota a three-point lead that proved to be important when Dobbs threw a go-ahead touchdown pass with 22 seconds remaining to push Minnesota past Atlanta.

Otherwise, Heinicke served as an upgrade over the inconsistent Ridder, providing the Falcons with some offensive juice and attitude in a hotly contested game between two 4-4 clubs. Because of Heinicke's performance, Smith feels comfortable enough to proceed with the veteran as his starter for at least this weekend as the Falcons near a potential crossroads in their 2023 season.

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