Ryan's 3 TD passes lead Falcons past Bills, 31-3

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Ryan's 3 TD passes lead Falcons past Bills, 31-3

By CHARLES ODUM
AP Sports Writer

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons’ improving defense left the
Buffalo Bills’ offense in a familiar rut.

Matt Ryan threw three touchdown passes, including a 42-yarder to
Roddy White on Atlanta’s first play from scrimmage, and the
Falcons were never challenged in their 31-3 win over Terrell
Owens and the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

Owens became the sixth player in NFL history with 1,000 career
receptions. He reached the milestone with an 8-yard pass from
Brian Brohm in the second quarter.

It was a rare highlight for the Bills (5-10), who were held to
178 total yards, including a season-low 40 yards rushing.

“I think for the second straight week I felt like our defense
played very solid,” said Falcons coach Mike Smith.

The Falcons, coming off a 10-7 win at the New York Jets, had two
interceptions and two sacks as the Bills converted only 2 of 10
third-down plays. They are only 7 of 45 on third-down
conversions while losing three of their last four games.

Brohm was 17 of 29 for 146 yards with two interceptions in his
NFL debut. The second-year quarterback started when Ryan
Fitzpatrick and Trent Edwards were inactive with ankle injuries.

“I thought our guys fought, but we just didn’t have enough
firepower,” said Buffalo interim coach Perry Fewell. “We just
didn’t have enough to make the game what we wanted to make it.”

The victory left the Falcons (8-7) in position to post
back-to-back winning records for the first time in franchise
history. The Falcons, in their 44th season and eliminated from
the playoff chase last week, close at Tampa Bay next week.

“When it comes to the playoffs and making the postseason, things
didn’t go as well as planned, but we can still finish with a
winning season,” said linebacker Mike Peterson. “I’m sure the
fans and the organization can be very happy about that.”

The Falcons led 10-0 before adding two third-quarter touchdowns.
Ryan completed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Marty Booker before
defensive end Lawrence Sidbury returned a fumble recovery 11
yards for a 24-0 lead.

Ryan added a 5-yard scoring pass to White in the fourth quarter.

Ryan was 18 of 35 for 250 yards. He is 13-1 as the starter at
the Georgia Dome in his two seasons.

Brohm was signed off Green Bay’s practice squad on Nov. 19.

“I thought I handled myself fine,” Brohm said. “Even though the
outcome wasn’t good, I was playing with confidence.”

Fewell said Brohm “handled himself OK” for a player who joined
the team a month ago.

“He was put in a tough position,” Fewell said. “He tried to
answer the challenge. I think he’s got a future with more reps
and more work. He has some promise there.”

From the start, Atlanta’s defense pressured Brohm and the Bills.
Jonathan Babineaux tackled Fred Jackson for a loss of 2 yards on
Buffalo’s first play and then sacked Brohm for a loss of 8 yards
on third down, forcing the first of seven punts for the Bills.

Eric Weems returned Brian Moorman’s punt 18 yards to Buffalo’s
42. On first down, White beat cornerback Reggie Corner for a
42-yard touchdown pass.

“I just wanted to go out there and make a play on it and get our
team going early,” said White, who had eight catches for 139
yards and two touchdowns. “Matt threw a good ball, and I just
went up there and got it.”

Corner started for Terrence McGee, who was placed on injured
reserve this week with a rotator cuff injury. The Bills also
placed DB Jarius Byrd on injured reserve this week, and starting
linebacker Bryan Scott was inactive with a head injury.

The Bills’ depleted defense couldn’t follow its plan of
protecting Brohm.

“We wanted to put the game on our shoulders, not his,” said
linebacker Paul Posluszny. “We didn’t do that. … They jumped
on us in a hurry. Obviously, it was a shock, but it was early.
We were anticipating getting back into it.”

Atlanta’s defense shut down the Buffalo running game. Jackson
had 13 carries for 39 yards.

Atlanta led 24-0 before Rian Lindell kicked a 42-yard field goal
late in the third quarter for Buffalo’s only points.

Owens had four catches for 39 yards. He entered the game needing
two catches to reach 1,000.

Christopher Owens and Brent Grimes had interceptions for
Atlanta.

Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez began the day six catches from 1,000. He
left with a right calf injury after making two catches for 17
yards.

The Falcons lost punter Michael Koenen to a head injury in the
third quarter and kicker Matt Bryant was limited by a hamstring
injury. Defensive end Kroy Biermann had two kickoffs, filling in
for Bryant, in the third quarter.

Notes: Ryan filled in for Koenen as the holder on an extra
point in the third quarter. Biermann was on the field prepared
to attempt the extra point until Bryant joined the huddle and
made the kick. … Backup quarterback Chris Redman is also the
backup punter. He stretched his kicking leg on the sideline, but
wasn’t called on as the Falcons kept the offense on the field
for fourth-down plays. … Falcons RB Michael Turner was
inactive for the fourth time in six games with an ankle injury.
… Bryant’s 51-yard FG is his longest since his 62-yarder, the
second longest in NFL history, for Tampa Bay against
Philadelphia on Oct. 22, 2006.

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