|Coach Mike Smith earned high marks for the Falcons' execution in Sunday's 27-3 win over San Diego. (US Presswire)|
For the third consecutive week, the Falcons offense looked like one of the top scoring attacks in the league while the defense pounced on four more turnovers, bringing its takeaway total to 11 on the year. Atlanta is clearly one of the best teams in the league, and a favorable schedule coupled with the rest of the NFC South's early struggles make the Falcons the clear favorite in the division.
Matt Ryan completed 75 percent (30 for 40, 275 yards) of his passes and threw for three touchdowns against the Chargers in Sunday’s 27-3 win. Ryan used eight different receivers, including nine passes to Tony Gonzalez, whose day was highlighted by a seven-yard touchdown strike to give Atlanta a 13-0 lead with 2:32 left in the first half. Gonzalez has caught touchdowns in all three games so far. Ryan threw one interception, his first in eight games dating back to last season. Michael Turner had his best game of the year (80 yards, 14 attempts) and the offense wore down the Chargers defensive front seven in the second half.
Atlanta’s secondary has gone through a lot of personnel change in just three weeks with CB Brent Grimes tearing his ACL and Chris Owens missing Sunday’s game with a concussion. It didn’t affect the Falcons at all, who forced four turnovers -- including two interceptions from CB Thomas DeCoud. The Falcons lead the NFL with 11 forced turnovers. Chargers QB Philip Rivers was flushed out of the pocket and hurried numerous times en route to just 173 passing yards, and Atlanta held RB Ryan Mathews to just 44 yards rushing in his first game back from a clavicle injury.
Special Teams: B-
Rookie long snapper Josh Harris rolled an extra-point snap to holder Matt Bosher, who couldn’t gather himself and was tackled behind the line of scrimmage. Aside from that miscue, the Falcons special teams were in order. Bosher averaged 44.6 yards on his five punts and return man Dominique Franks averaged 17 yards on his two returns.
Coach Mike Smith overcame the challenges of traveling to the West coast and improved to 6-0 on such trips in his five years in Atlanta. Schematically, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan kept Rivers guessing as the defense rotated around before the snap and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter finally saw encouraging signs from the running game. After airing the ball out in the first half, Koetter kept feeding the ball to Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers in the second half to ice the game. The 113 yards on the ground were the most the Falcons have had all season.
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