The Braves, Georgia Bulldogs and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets all suffered disappointing losses over the weekend, so the people of Atlanta were hoping that the Falcons would not let them down as they took on the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field.
It was not a pretty game, but the Falcons came away with a 24-17 win and improve to 5-0, which is a first in team history.
Many thought that this game would be a high scoring affair because both Matt Ryan and Robert Griffin III are the two of the top three highest rated passers in the NFL. However, the start of the game was a defensive battle as there was only a combined 14 points scored in the first half.
The Redskins get on the board first early in the second quarter when defensive end Ryan Kerrigan intercepted a Ryan pass and returned it for a 28-yard touchdown.
On the ensuing drive the Falcons got to the Redskins 32 yard line, but the Falcons committed another turnover when Ryan fumbled the snap which was recovered by Perry Riley. The Redskins could not capitalize on the turnover because Billy Cundiff missed the 31-yard field goal. The Falcons would take advantage of the missed opportunity as they put together an 8-play 79- yard drive which led to a Ryan 1-yard touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez to tie the game at halftime.
The third quarter was key for the Redskins for the wrong reasons. They would take the lead after Cundiff kicked a 23-yard field goal, but it would not come without a price because Sean Weatherspoon laid a hit on Griffin and suffered a mild concussion.
That would lead to the Redskins giving the keys to another rookie QB in Kirk Cousins who led the ‘Skins to a three-and-out on his first series. The Falcons would take the lead on the ensuing drive when Ryan threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones. But that lead wouldn’t last for long because Cousins would throw his first NFL touchdown pass to Santana Moss and Redskins led 17-14 with 12:24 left in the fourth quarter.
After that play it would be all Falcons. With 7:47 left in the game, Matt Bryant nailed a 53-yard field goal to tie the game at 17. After another three-and-out by the Redskins, the Falcons would put together a 6-play, 69-yard drive ending with a Michael Turner 13-yard go ahead touchdown.
The Redskins had two chances to tie the game, but Cousins would be intercepted both times. The first was by Dunta Robinson and the second was by Thomas DeCoud.
Ryan started off slow, but ended the day 34-of-52 for 345 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan connected with eight different receivers, but his main two targets were Tony Gonzalez and Julio Jones. Gonzalez caught 13 passes for 123 yards and one touchdown, and Jones caught 10 passes for 94 yards and one touchdown. Turner also had a solid game, rushing for 67 yards on 18 carries and one score.
The defense was opportunistic as they caused two turnovers and notched three sacks. They also limited Griffin and Cousins to a combined 202 yards through the air.
With the win, the Falcons take a commanding lead in the NFC South. They will look to make the lead bigger next week when they face the Oakland Raiders at the Georgia Dome next Sunday.