Falcons vs. Chargers: Live Game Grades and Player Analysis for Atlanta
The Falcons will attempt to use their high powered offense and ball hawking defense to stifle the Chargers hopes. The Chargers will try to play a ball control offense and stout intelligent defense for the victory.
We'll be grading the Falcons throughout the game. Stay tuned in as the Falcons work towards a Week 3 win against their third straight undefeated team.
And that's the game. The Falcons win 27-3 to improve to 3-0 for the first time since 2004. They are leading the NFC South by two games early.
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Matt Ryan finished the game going 30-for-40 (75.0 percent) for 275 yards and three touchdowns. He threw his first interception of the year. However, the defense bailed him out right after and it became a complete non-factor. Nonetheless, Ryan had a great game outside of the one mistake and led the Falcons to victory.
Ryan was leading the offense down the field efficiently and effectively, but threw his first interception of the season to close the drive out in the red zone. He didn't attempt another pass after the interception he threw.
Ryan has been the steady hand today. He's been even keeled and efficient. He's finishing the third quarter 29-for-38 (76.3 percent) for 266 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Ryan made some bad decisions early by taking a pair of sacks, but lucked out that just one of them counted. He then made some good passes to extend the drive another set of downs. On the first down directly after, Ryan read an easy zone and had a huge pass to Julio Jones.
He's been much more efficient as the quarter has drawn on, but he's not looking as good as he did in the first two games. However, he has had some key drops to force third downs that he has been excellent at reading and getting to the right receiver to convert on the time eating, yard munching drive that finished in a touchdown to Tony Gonzalez.
Ryan picked apart the defense on the next drive. He was a perfect three-for-three after the DeCoud interception gave the offense the ball at the 29-yard line. He finished the drive with his third touchdown of the game.
At the half, Ryan is 22-for-29 (75.9 percent) for 208 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He had a 129.7 passer rating based on those numbers.
Matt Ryan has been looking good today. He's had great decision making and didn't miss on any of his first six passes. Ryan has completed passes to five different receivers on the first drive alone capping the drive off with a short pass to Jacquizz Rodgers for a touchdown.
On the second drive, Ryan was just two-for-three and he skied a pass on the third down attempt. He was just solid on the third drive and after starting seven-for-eight, is now 11-for-14 (78.6 percent) for 95 yards and a touchdown.
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Much like the Chiefs game, the Falcons offense looked great in the first half and even the first 20 minutes of the second half. But they went dead in the last ten minutes of the game as they just went conservative. Overall, the offense played efficient ball and scored quickly.
Well, Michael Turner is back. He opens the quarter with another great carry for 25 yards. Then another pas to Gonzalez for nine yards. The first mistake of the season happens as Ryan throws a bad pass under pressure to Gonzalez for his first interception.
The second drive of the quarter starts with a seven-yard carry by Michael Turner. Then he follows it back up with an 18-yard run. Then the all-Michael Turner drive ends on a seven-yard run by Turner for a touchdown.
The third drive started with a short pair of Jacquizz Rodgers runs and finishes on a short Matt Ryan scramble out of the pocket leading to a punt. The fourth drive started with a Jacquizz Rodgers run to bring the game to the two minute warning.
The first play of the drive was a no-gain pass to Turner. Then there was a tight coverage pass that went through Jones' hands. On the first third down of the half, Ryan hits Roddy White for a 19-yard gain and the first down. Michael Turner provides a four-yard gain on first down running the ball and then Harry Douglas provides a three-yard gain catching it.
On another third down conversion, the Falcons hit Tony Gonzalez for another easy mismatch against a linebacker for another first down. The Falcons running game has been developing into a legitimate threat, especially on draw plays as seen from the Jacquizz Rodgers runs. Sam Baker allows his first sack of the season on third-and-three to Antwan Barnes to force a punt.
The second drive started off with a pair of quick completions. One to Rodgers and one to Gonzalez to give the Falcons a quick first down. Michael Turner may not be the back he once was but he can still get three yards. Gonzalez closes out the third quarter with a 15-yard reception.
The Falcons started their first second quarter drive off with a Michael Turner run for just a couple of yards. On third-and-five, the Falcons allowed a sack, however there was a defensive holding call to cancel the play out and extend the Falcons drive. The Falcons finally started moving the ball with a pair of completions to Julio Jones and Harry Douglas.
The run offense still isn't able to get going, though. The Falcons have got to do something in their future games to get some sort of rushing yards. On back-to-back third downs, Roddy White was the key receiver for Ryan's throws to get the conversions. On another third down play, Ryan found Snelling underneath to get another first down.
The long drive shows just what the Falcons offense can do. The way they have held the ball and played keep away after a turnover has been brilliant. But even more important is how they were able to score after the turnover to create a 14-point swing after the Ryan touchdown pass to Gonzalez.
On the final drive of the half, the Falcons open up with a 13-yard pass to Gonzalez. They then follow it up with a play-action for six yards to Julio Jones. They close the drive out with a nine-yard fade to Julio Jones for the touchdown.
Julio Jones struck early with a 19 yard play to open the game on a high note. Tony Gonzalez caught a nine yard pass right after that. The Falcons started to utilize the diminutive Jacquizz Rodgers early on as well and didn't have a negative play on their first eight plays. They capped the drive off with an eight yard touchdown pass to Jacquizz Rodgers.
Michael Turner gets a quick catch for a yard to start the second drive off. Roddy White gets a five-yard catch on second down and then another one to convert the third down. However, the Falcons got gigged for a five-yard penalty for illegal formation. On the second chance for third down, Ryan overthrew Roddy White for a failed conversion.
The Falcons tried to get the running game going early in the third drive with a short run by Turner. The Falcons got a penalty in their favor to give the offense an early first down and keep the ball moving. Turner got a six-yard run to give the team a third-and-four. Tony Gonzalez got the pass on third-and-four for the conversion around the 50-yard line.
Jacquizz Rodgers had an excellent nine-yard run. Matt Ryan threw a touchdown to Roddy White, but White pushed off on the play and got called for it to create a second-and-11. Ryan checked into a draw on second down and then the Falcons failed to get the first down on third-and-13.
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The Falcons defense did it again. Philip Rivers was harassed in the backfield all day despite getting just one sack. The defense forced four turnovers and the Falcons have gone from a good defense to one of the best in the NFL.
On the first two defensive plays of the quarter, the defense allows just two yards to force a third-and-eight from the Chargers' own five yard line. Those yards were nullified by a false start penalty to create a third-and-10 from the two yard line and then caused a three-and-out.
The defense came out in softer coverage for the second drive of the quarter. They allowed a quick first down, but then tightened up again forcing two incompletions and a third-and-10. Then the Falcons forced yet another punt.
Jackie Battle opened up the Chargers third drive with a 52-yard run to negate the field position created by the punt. Then there were three short gains to earn another first down at the Falcons 14-yard line. On another short completion to Dante Rosario, the Falcons looked to force a fumble, however the play was blown dead. William Moore forced the fumble and he also recovered it to close the game out for the defense.
The Falcons allowed a short pass to Robert Meachem and a 10-yard pass to Eddie Royal before William Moore broke up a deep pass to Malcolm Floyd. Then on another second down play, Meachem dropped the ball again. On third-and-10, Antonio Gates got the ball in the soft spot on a zone play for just his second catch of the game.
The Falcons have been getting consistent pressure on Philip Rivers all day. On a third-and-seven from the 31, the Falcons allowed yet another third down conversion. Thomas DeCoud had yet another athletic play on a pass deflection. It's apparent these defenders are being taught to fly to the ball this year. On third-and-seven from the 23-yard line, Abraham gets pressure to force the bad throw and field goal.
On the second drive of the quarter, the Falcons allowed a pair of runs for a first down and then a deeper pass for 19 yards to bring the Chargers to mid-field. The Falcons are having a ton of trouble stopping the run this season. The second drive of the half was stopped on yet another Thomas DeCoud interception.
A five-yard run starts the quarter off against the Falcons defense and is followed by a 16-yard pass to Michael Floyd. That's then followed by a 14-yard pass to Robert Meachem. Philip Rivers was pressured on a 28-yard pass to Michael Floyd. The defense has been getting shredded early in the quarter.
The only saving grace of the drive could be a fumble forced by Sean Weatherspoon and recovered by Thomas DeCoud. However, it was a close play that was reviewed and later confirmed to save the drive for the Falcons defense.
The defense has been getting tremendous pressure all game and started the second drive of the quarter off with another play where they almost got a sack. They allowed just four yards on the first two plays of the drive. On third-and-six, Thomas Decoud finished the drive out with an interception on yet another pressure of Rivers.
On the final drive of the quarter, the Falcons held the Chargers on the two plays they ran. John Abraham got a sack to close the drive out and bring the game to the half.
The first play of the game is a four-yard run by Ryan Mathews. The Falcons will need to control the line of scrimmage against the run game to win today. Atlanta had trouble with a swing pass but then forced a throw-away on the second first down of the drive. On the first third down of the game, the Falcons defense created pressure but didn't allow the conversion and caused a punt.
The second drive started with a ton of pressure on Rivers and a throw away. On the second play, Malcolm Floyd was blown up and dropped the ball. And on third-and-10, the Falcons had perfect coverage on Floyd from Dunta Robinson to force the punt. The final play of the quarter was a seven yard sweep play to Ryan Mathews.
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Special teams was very good today. While it wasn't perfect, they didn't make any mistakes that lead to points and put the team in great position for the win.
The first punt of the quarter was kicked out of bounds by the Chargers to give the Falcons the ball at the Chargers 32-yard line. Matt Bosher kicked the ball through the end zone yet again after the touchdown and also kicked the extra point through with ease.
Dominque Franks let a punt into the endzone for the Falcons to get the ball at their own 20-yard line. Bosher hits a 52-yard punt giving the Chargers the ball at their own 20-yard line.
On the first kickoff of the Half, the Falcons allow a big return to create bad field position for the defense to start with. Jacquizz Rodgers downed the first kickoff of the half to give the offense the ball at the 20-yard line to start their first possession. Matt Bosher kills a punt at the 15-yard line for his third punt to land within the 20-yard line.
The Falcons kicked their extra point through easily on the second attempt of the game. The second kickoff for the Falcons went through the endzone. More of the same on special teams as the extra point goes through the uprights and the kick goes through the endzone for a touchback.
The first kickoff was downed for initial field position at the 20-yard line. However, the first extra point was botched on a bad snap leading to just a six point lead. Matt Bosher has a tremendous kick for his first kickoff booting it through the end zone.
Dominique Franks took the first punt return of the game back 12 yards to give the offense the ball at the 23-yard line. Bosher's first punt went 51 yards and the Chargers finished with just a five-yard return on it to start their second drive on the 28-yard line.
On his second return, Franks got yet another good return. This time, it was 22 yards giving the offense the ball at the 30-yard line. Matt Bosher had an excellent second punt that was skied high and puts the Chargers on their own 12-yard line.
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Winning a game 27-3 by being aggressive the entire game and never allowing the Chargers to even have a chance in the game. The Falcons have just dominated the Chargers in every aspect of the game.
The coaching is keeping the pedal to the metal. The defense is staying aggressive and the offense is still attacking despite the big lead. The way this Falcons team has played today, they will be tough to beat.
Despite not having a huge point differential in the quarter, the Falcons have kept the momentum and stayed attacking. The Falcons are still wearing down the Chargers and have a 20-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Attacking. Aggressive. Playmaking. That's how both sides of the ball can be described today for the Falcons. They have cause turnovers and turned them into touchdowns. It's hard to knock coaching when the team is up 20-0 at halftime.
The offense has been aggressive and attacking on the first drive. The defense has been the same as the defense seen on Monday Night Football. The special teams have looked good outside of the missed point after touchdown. The offense is showing the losses of Julio Jones and Michael Palmer are hurting right now as they have stalled early since Jones went out.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek, runs the NFL Draft Website ScarDraft.com and hosts Kvetching Draftniks Radio.