Falcons to face primed Bengals squad


Atlanta rallied from a 20-7 deficit in the second quarter to earn a 37-34 overtime win over New Orleans in Week 1. Matt Ryan passed for a franchise-record 448 yards to go along with three touchdowns and Matt Bryant kicked three last-second field goals, including a 40-yarder prior to halftime, a 51-yarder to force overtime and a 52-yard game-winner in the extra period. Ryan’s performance earned him NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for the fifth time in his career and Bryant was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for the seventh time in his career.

Ryan also became the Falcons’ all-time leader in touchdown passes (156) in addition to his single-game record. He completed 31 of 43 passes (72.1 percent) and three touchdowns as he posted an NFL-best 128.8 passer rating. Ryan has led the Falcons to a 35-2 record when he records a passer rating of 100 or higher and a 19-1 mark when throwing three or more touchdowns. His 448 passing yards were the second most in NFL history by any quarterback on kickoff weekend without throwing an interception.


The excitement was felt throughout the city after the victory but with a trip to Cincin- nati looming, Falcons’ head coach Mike Smith was quick to shift focus on what lies ahead.

“We’re on to our preparation for the Cincinnati Bengals in about an hour and 45 minutes,” Smith said in his postgame press conference.

The Falcons have faced the Bengals 12 times in franchise history and have won the last three matchups, including a 39-32 victory in 2010. Like Atlanta, Cincinnati opened its season against a division opponent and moved to 1-0 with its 23-16 win at Baltimore. The Bengals were 8-0 at home last season, while the Falcons were 1-7 on the road. Cincinnati likes to use the speed of Giovani Bernard out of the backfield and the playmaking ability of A.J. Green at receiver.

Bernard took 14 carries for 48 yards in Week 1 and also saw a team- high 10 passes thrown his way. Green helped the Bengals put the game away and answered an 80-yard Steve Smith touchdown with a 77- yard touchdown catch to give the Bengals a 23- 16 lead in the fourth quarter. The former UGA star has hauled in 11 touchdowns in each of his last two seasons and comes off a career-high 98 catches and 1,426 yards in 2013.

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