Traveling to the West Coast for a team from the East Coast is never an easy task, especially when that team has a short week. The Falcons played on Monday night, had three days to prepare for the San Diego Chargers before they had to travel out there on Friday night.
This has been the routine for the Falcons since Mike Smith took over in 2008. It was worked because the Falcons were 5-0 when playing on the west coast. They were able to make it 6-0 as the Falcons downed the Chargers 27-3.
It was a balanced attack for the Falcons on both sides of the ball. On offense, the Falcons tallied 384 yards while the defense only surrendered 280 yards and forced four turnovers.
The Falcons offense got going at the start of the game, putting together a 10-play, 80-yard drive which ended with a Matt Ryan 8-yard pass to Jacquizz Rodgers to take the 6-0 lead. Ryan had another strong game as he went 30-of-40 for 275 yards, three touchdowns and one interception which was thrown late in the game.
There has been much talk about Ryan’s weapons and who would be one who would stand out for the game against the Chargers. This time Tony Gonzalez was the one who stepped up as he caught nine passes for 91 yards and one touchdown, which he scored in late in the second quarter after the Falcons produced a 17-play, 96-yard drive which took eight minutes off the clock.
That gave the Falcons the 13-0 lead and they were able to increase the lead nearly two minutes later when Thomas DeCoud intercepted a Phillip Rivers pass at the Chargers 29-yard line. That set up Ryan 9-yard pass to Julio Jones with 54 seconds left in the second quarter.
Michael Turner has had a rough week as he underperformed in the Denver game and was arrested the morning after because he was under the suspicion of drunk driving. He was able to pick things up against the Chargers, especially in the second half when he scored on a 7-yard run to ice the game for the Falcons. Turner had a season high 80-yards on 14 carries and one touchdown.
The Chargers offense could never get going and when it looked like they have a drive going, the Falcons would Rivers, who was statistically the best quarterback in the league coming into the game, threw for 173 yards and two picks. DeCoud had both picks and now has three on the year.
The Falcons also had two forced fumbles. Sean Weatherspoon forced the first fumble in the second quarter and William Moore forced the other late in the fourth quarter.
The Falcons improve to 3-0 and are only one of two teams that are undefeated in the NFC. The other is the Arizona Cardinals who defeated the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday 27-6. The Falcons also have a two game lead in the NFC South. Tampa Bay and Carolina are 1-2, and New Orleans is one of two teams that are winless at 0-3.
This is the first time since 2004 the Falcons have started the season 3-0. They will look to go 4-0 when they face the Carolina Panthers at the Georgia Dome next Sunday.