ATLANTA – Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan scored four touchdowns, two passing and two rushing, to lead Atlanta to a 31-24 victory over the Carolina Panthers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday. It’s their first win of the season.
The Falcons’ offense looked much smoother, with 442 total yards and a perfect red zone percentage.
The first of Atlanta’s red zone touchdowns was an 11-yard pass to wide receiver Calvin Ridley for the rookie’s first big league score. The second was a beautifully thrown pass from Ryan to tight end Austin Hooper in the corner of the end zone.
In the second half, Ryan used his legs to power into the end zone twice. The second of which came on a third-and-5 from the Carolina 8. The 33-year old scrambled to his left, bounced off a block from Hooper, and leaped over three defenders. When the sideline official raised his arms to signal that Ryan had crossed the goal line, his teammates swarmed to him, and right tackle Ryan Schraeder snatched the football and spiked it.
That play secured Ryan’s first ever multi-rushing touchdown game in his 11-year NFL career. However, the former MVP downplayed the moment.
The Falcons’ running backs faired just as well as Ryan. Without starter Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman carried the load as the number one running back. The former Indiana Hoosier rushed for 107 on just 16 carries. Third-string back Ito Smith also contributed well with 46 yards on nine rush attempts and broken tackles on nearly every run.
Atlanta’s 31 points in week two is the most they’ve scored since last year’s win over Tampa Bay in week 12.
Next week, the Falcons (1-1) host their arch rival the New Orleans Saints (1-1) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Atlanta will need another smooth performance if they want to win an impressive second divisional game to start the season.
By: David Schiele