Matt Ryan operated the Atlanta Falcons’ offense with masterful precision en route to crushing the Kansas City Chiefs, 40-24.
It was the third consecutive time the Falcons opened the season on the road. They were 0-2 prior to today, losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010 and the Chicago Bears in 2011.
Ryan completed 23 of 31 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed three times for 25 yards, including a three-yard touchdown.
Julio Jones had six receptions for 109 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Roddy White caught six balls as well, gaining 87 yards.
Jacquizz Rodgers had a 77-yard kickoff return that resulted in a Falcons field goal.
For Tony Gonzalez, it was the first time playing in Arrowhead Stadium since being traded to the Falcons in 2009. His return was largely successful: he had five receptions for 53 yards and a touchdown. However, after Gonzalez did his trademark touchdown celebration of slam dunking the football, he was booed heavily by the Chiefs fans. Gonzalez’s touchdown increased the deficit to 16 (33-17), so that fact may have had something to do with the boos.
Ryan led the Falcons on eight straight scoring drives. The Falcons opened the game with a 12-play drive that went for 80 yards and ended with an eight-yard touchdown to Jones. The Falcons offense took full advantage of the Chiefs’ wounded defense; Pro Bowl linebacker Tamba Hali was suspended for one game for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Cornerback Brandon Flowers, free safety Kendrick Lewis, and nose tackle Anthony Toribio all sat out with injuries.
It looked as though the game would be a back-and-forth affair; neither team punted once in the first half. In fact, the Falcons didn’t punt until well into fourth quarter when the game was clearly out of reach.
The first half ended with the Falcons up 20-17. After allowing those 17 points, the Falcons’ defense made the necessary adjustments and shut down the Chiefs in the second half. The Chiefs’ lone second half touchdown came in garbage time with two seconds left on the clock.
Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel went 21/33 yards for 258 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. He was also strip-sacked by John Abraham, and the Falcons recovered the fumble.
Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles returned successfully to regular season action after tearing his ACL in Week 2 last year. He rushed 16 yards for 87 yards, his longest rush going for 46 yards.
Stephen Nicholas and William Moore both had interceptions. Sean Weatherspoon and Jonathan Babineaux, along with Abraham, notched a sack apiece.
Matt Bryant was perfect on the day, nailing all four of his field goals (34, 21, 30, 41) and his four extra point attempts.
Brent Grimes left the game late in the fourth quarter with an apparent calf injury. Hopefully, it’s not serious.
It was great to see the Falcons finally make halftime adjustments. Over the past four years under the former coordinators, it seemed as though making adjustments was a foreign concept.
Next week, the Falcons play host to the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football (September 17).