Falcons win season opener

Jimmy Cribb/Atlantafalcons.com

Since Mike Smith took over as the head coach of the Falcons in 2008, the Falcons have a record of 2-2 in regular season openers. The last two season openers the Falcons have played in were on the road against Pittsburgh and Chicago. Both resulted in losses for Atlanta.

But when the Falcons took on the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in their season opener, history was not on the Falcons side as the Falcons took down the Chiefs 40-24.

It was a game was good for a fan of offensive football as both teams combined for only two punts and close to 800 yards of total offense. But the Falcons were able to pull away from the Chiefs at the start of the third quarter. After a missed FG by Kansas City kicker Ryan Succop, the Falcons put together a 9-play, 70-yard drive which ended with a Ryan 5-yard touchdown run to increase the Falcons lead to 10.

The Falcons got the ball back nearly a minute later after John Abraham sacked Matt Cassel and forced a fumble which was recovered Stephen Nicholas. That led to a Ryan 7-yard touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez which increased the Falcons lead to 17.

After that, it was smooth sailing for the Falcons in the fourth quarter. When Kansas City got the ball back, Cassel threw a pick to William Moore which led to a Matt Bryant 30-yard field goal. The Falcons defense got another turnover over a minute later when Nicholas intercepted a Cassel pass. That led to another Bryant field goal to increase the Falcons lead to 23.

The game was a lot closer in the first half as both teams exchanged points. The Falcons opened the game with a 12-play, 80-yard drive and the drive ended with a Ryan 8-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones. The Chiefs answered with a Succop 39-yard field goal to cut the Falcons lead to four.

Three minutes later, Bryant added to the Falcons lead with a 34-yard field goal, but the Chiefs responded when Cassel threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Boss to tie the game early in the second quarter. The Falcons took the lead back on the ensuing drive when Ryan threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones. Cassel responded with a 5-yard touchdown run four minutes later. The Falcons took the lead going into the half as Bryant kicked a 21-yard field goal with 10 seconds left in the second quarter.

The offense was as good as advertised thanks to the efficiency of Ryan. He finished the afternoon 23-of-31 with 299 yards and three touchdowns. Jones was Ryan’s favorite target, catching six passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns. Tony Gonzalez made his return to Kansas City for the first time since 2008 and it was one great homecoming for the future hall of famer. Gonzalez has five receptions for 53 yards and one touchdown.

The defense got off to a slow start, but picked up the pace in the second half. Nicholas led the team with 12 tackles and one interception. Sean Weatherspoon had seven tackles and one sack. Moore also came up with a pick to go along with his seven tackles and John Abraham had three tackles, one sack and one forced fumble. The defense did let the Chiefs offense convert 11 of 16 third downs and also gave up 152 rushing yards. Those will be two things Coach Smith will address during practice this week.

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