Matt Ryan threw a career-high five interceptions, but the Falcons (9-1) still managed to defeat the Cardinals (4-6) by a score of 23-19.
Despite the five interceptions, he led the Falcons on the go-ahead touchdown drive with 6:40 remaining in the game. The drive was capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by Michael Turner, who showed that Atlanta is indeed capable of picking up a yard.
Turner’s touchdown gave the Falcons their first lead of the game.
The win gives Atlanta its ninth straight home victory, and the loss keeps Arizona on a downward spiral. The Cardinals started off the season with four straight wins, but they’ve lost six straight since.
Three of Ryan’s picks came in the first quarter.
On the very first play of the game, Matt Ryan was intercepted. Roddy White deflected the pass, and Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson was there for the pick.
Two more interceptions later, and the Cardinals had a 13-0 lead over the Falcons.
The lead could have potentially been greater, but the Cardinals passing offense could not get going. Arizona even tried a quarterback switch: John Skelton was benched for third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley in the second quarter.
Skelton was just 2/7 for six yards, and Lindley finished 9/20 for just 64 yards.
Three field goals from Matt Bryant and a defensive touchdown from Jonathan Babineaux tied the game at 16 heading into halftime.
The defensive touchdown was an alert play by John Abraham: he strip-sacked Lindley and yelled to his teammates to pick up the ball since the whistle wasn’t blown. After review, the touchdown stood.
Ryan was looking like an MVP prior to this game, but five interceptions is entirely too many; he never threw more than three picks in a game before today. He finished the day going 28/46 for 301 yards, no touchdowns, and the aforementioned five interceptions. To absolve Ryan a little, three of the interceptions were tipped passes.
Ryan is became the first quarterback to throw for five interceptions and no touchdowns in a win since Bart Starr in 1967.
Roddy White caught most of Ryan’s passes, finishing with eight receptions for 123 yards.
Julio Jones caught three passes for 33 yards before getting up slowly and leaving the game with 5:04 left in the third quarter. He wouldn’t return.
The Falcons were able to hold the Cardinals to just 41 passing yards, but the problematic run defense allowed 137 yards. LaRod Stephens-Howling carried the ball 22 times for 127 yards and a touchdown – the most in his career.
In any case, the Falcons got the victory, but they have a lot to work on. I think it’s safe to say those five interceptions were an aberration for Ryan.
Next up: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Raymond James Stadium.