Let’s address what needs to be addressed: the replacement officials are absolutely abysmal, and the NFL needs to get the original officials back immediately. The replacements are doing the best they can; their best just isn’t good enough. While they are at fault, the NFL deserves a large amount of blame as well. Something needs to be done quickly because these games are quickly becoming unwatchable. Both teams were screwed several times by abysmal calls; if the NFL cares about the integrity of the game, the original officials will be back in Week 3.
For God’s sake, the first quarter lasted for ONE HOUR.
Now, the game recap:
The Atlanta Falcons defense jumped on Peyton Manning early, intercepting him on three consecutive possessions. I couldn’t believe my eyes. On the first third down of the game, William Moore picked off a Manning pass. On the next Broncos drive, it was Thomas DeCoud’s turn for an interception. Robert McClain, who filled in for an ailing Asante Samuel for a few plays, intercepted Manning on the third Broncos drive.
It was shocking to see for the future Hall of Famer, who was declared to be “back” by several pundits after he led the Denver Broncos to victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday.
At the end of the first quarter, Stephen Nicholas forced a fumble on Knowshon Moreno, and it was recovered bySean Weatherspoon. After forcing four turnovers, the Falcons put the Broncos in a 20-0 hole.
And really, the Falcons should’ve been up by more than 20 points; they didn’t capitalize. The Falcons manged to score just one touchdown off the turnovers, and that was from Moore’s interception he brought down the the one-yard line.
Julio Jones dropped a relatively easy touchdown: he got away from the defender in the end zone, caught the ball for a split-second, but the ball popped out as he went to the ground. Jones was shut down: he had four receptions for just 14 yards. He also had a couple of more drops. He did pick up the game-winning first down for the Falcons, though.
Tony Gonzalez had a few surprising drops before having a fantastic game: seven receptions, 70 yards, one touchdown.
Roddy White was the star on offense, though. He caught everything thrown his way, and he was featured heavily on a third-quarter drive that gave the Falcons a 27-7 lead. White finished with eight receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown.
Michael Turner looks completely done. He looks terribly slow, and he couldn’t find any holes. To make matters worse, he was arrested on DUI charges early this morning. Before ripping off a 15-yard run to ice the game, Turner had 16 rushes for a paltry 27 yards. That’s 1.7 yards per carry.
In fact, the running game period looks abysmal. You’re going to need to run in some games, and if you’re unable to do it, it could lose you a couple of games.
Matt Ryan put together another fine game: 24/36 for 219 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers. He was sacked only once, and the Broncos didn’t start to generate much pressure until the fourth quarter.
The Falcons defense looked fantastic. They were moving around before the snap; they were feigning blitzes and then dropping into coverage; they were coming with all-out blitzes – it was awesome. The defensive front – John Abraham, Jonathan Babineaux, Kroy Biermann, Peria Jerry, and Vance Walker – all looked incredible. I’m extremely thankful for defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Of course, Ray Edwards was a non-factor, and he was actually benched after he threw a punch. He should’ve been ejected, but we’re dealing with replacements.
Nicholas and Weatherspoon put together great games, but the star was Moore. I think this was Moore’s best game as a pro – he had eight tackles, one sack, and one interception. He also separated Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas from the ball in the end zone. Moore was absolutely on fire.
The Falcons became ultra-conservative in the fourth quarter, and it nearly cost them the game. They went into the fourth quarter with a 27-7 lead, but allowed the Broncos to score two touchdowns the game to 27-21. After having a great first outing as offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter’s conservative playcalling in the fourth quarter knocked him down a few notches this week. The Falcons scored zero points, and it looked like they were just trying to run out the clock since the quarter started. There was no killer instinct.
Willis McGahee had his way with the Falcons defense. He ran all over them for 113 yards and a pair of touchdowns. They’ve got to get their run defense in check.
In any regard, the Falcons improve to 2-0 and are atop the NFC South. They go on the road to face the San Diego Chargers next week.