Falcons throttle Chargers 27-3 to remain undefeated

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan passes against the San Diego Chargers during the first half of an NFL football game in San Diego Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan passes against the San Diego Chargers during the first half of an NFL football game in San Diego Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan turned in one of the greatest days of his five-year NFL career on Sunday against the Chargers in a battle of unbeaten teams.

With Ryan operating at near peak performance and the defense confounding San Diego’s offense, the Falcons defeated the Chargers 27-3, before 61,297 fans, to improve to 3-0 for the first time since 2004.

“I really liked the way all three phases of the team played today,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “They performed extremely well.”

The Falcons used their passing attack to build a lead and then turned the game over to running back Michael Turner, who had a tumultuous week that included being arrested for driving under the influence, to close out the game.

Ryan completed 30 of 40 passes for 275 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

“I feel as confident as I ever have for sure and a lot of that has to do with experience. …having good experiences and bad experiences,” said Ryan, who improved his record as a starter in the NFL to 46-19. “ I’m now realizing that I can do it. I can make the plays we need to make in order to win.”

Free safety Thomas DeCoud is also gaining more confidence from his experiences. He was at the center two key turnovers that fueled the victory.

DeCoud recovered a fumble that set up a back-breaking 17-play, 96-yard touchdown drive. He also came up with an interception that helped the Falcons build a 20-0 halftime lead.

“I think it’s a combination of the scheme, skill and confidence all coming together,” DeCoud said. “We are a defense that is offensive minded and we want to get the ball back for our offense. I think we’ve really taken that to heart.”

Ryan and the offense opened the game with a solid touchdown drive.

With Ryan passing on 8 of 10 plays, the Falcons marched down the field before he tossed an 8-yard touchdown pass to running back Jacquizz Rodgers. Holder Matt Bosher scooped up an errant Josh Harris snap, but was tackled while trying to run for the extra point.

With the Falcons up 6-0, the game stalled until early in the second quarter.

The Chargers were on the move and drove inside the Falcons’ 10 yard line when DeCoud held up San Diego running back Ryan Mathews and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon whacked him from the back to force a fumble.

DeCoud recovered Mathews’ 11th fumble in 27 career NFL games.

“I was pushing for more yards and when I was going down to get a little extra, the ball came out in front of me,” Mathews said. “Stuff like that happens and I just have to learn to go down instead of trying to get the extra yard.”

The Falcons promptly drove 96 yards in 17 plays before Ryan tossed a laser shot to tight end Tony Gonzalez, who hauled it in for a 7-yard touchdown. It was the 98th career touchdown for Gonzalez.

During the drive, their longest of the season, the offense converted on five third downs to keep the chains moving.

“We got into a rhythm,” Ryan said. “The one that stands out to me is Jason Snelling catching the check down and being able to run for nine or 10 yards, converting on a third-and-long situation.”

With the Chargers on the ropes, quarterback Philip Rivers tossed an ill-advised pass out to tight end Antonio Gates and DeCoud made a spectacular interception along the sideline at San Diego’s 29 with 1:53 left in the second quarter.

The Falcons struck quickly, with Ryan tossing a 9-yard touchdown pass on a fade route to Julio Jones on the fourth play of the drive. Rodgers picked up a blitzer to allow Ryan time to get off the touchdown pass that made it 20-0.

“That was a big-time catch over there on our sideline in the end zone,” Smith said. “On the very first play, he was injured. To what extent, I don’t know. He was able to return to play and made a big play for us when we needed it. There were a bunch of guys in that locker room that made big plays. I’m very proud of them.”

San Diego received a 41-yard field goal from Nate Kaeding on their first drive of the second half.

About the only thing Ryan did wrong was throw a third quarter interception. He hadn’t thrown an interception in a franchise-record 272 attempts before San Diego cornerback Antoine Cason’s interception.

The Falcons will attempt to improve to 4-0 when they face the well-rested Carolina Panthers (1-2), who played Thursday night, at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

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187 comments Add your comment

fly_falcon_fly

September 23rd, 2012
7:05 pm

Awesome game ! I wish Matt did not have the int though.

Yeah Buddy

September 23rd, 2012
7:09 pm

Falcons Win!! Aints Lose!!! It’s a good Sunday!! LOL oh……… First

Yeah Buddy

September 23rd, 2012
7:10 pm

Well I thought I was first…. LOL

Jeremiah

September 23rd, 2012
7:13 pm

Go Falcons! Another great game from Matty Ice! Are we watching the start of a very special year? I hope so!!!!

Explanation

September 23rd, 2012
7:14 pm

Can anyone explain what the deal was with R. White being talked to by receivers coach?

Dirty Bird

September 23rd, 2012
7:15 pm

Great game, loved the offense and how we can hit alot of different targets.
The defense looked great again as well, this time, it was the other safety getting his name in the books.

Dirty Bird

September 23rd, 2012
7:16 pm

I think Roddy was upset that Ryan missed him there, coach was trying to calm him down.

Loyalfalconfrmthemississippi

September 23rd, 2012
7:16 pm

Wow i saw a post yesterday that said san diego would easily beat atlanta i told himhe was stupid but very nice play as for the int no biggie everbody will make mistakes give matty credit for keepin his cool and keepin the game under control great game on both sides of the ball even a nice game for turner good job guys

Only one winless team left in NFC

September 23rd, 2012
7:17 pm

This has been a nice NFL Sunday! Falcons win, the embarrassment of the NFC South, (Cain’ts), got the Chiefs in the win column, and the Eagles got whipped! TB & Carolina are week 3 losers too.

suggs

September 23rd, 2012
7:18 pm

OMG! Saints 0-3. Oh crap, Packers next week. Looks like 0-4.

Michael M.

September 23rd, 2012
7:19 pm

Strange Murphy

September 23rd, 2012
7:19 pm

Dawgs win! Falcons win! Braves win! Tech loses! IT’S A GREAT WEEKEND FOR AMERICA!!!!

Kd

September 23rd, 2012
7:20 pm

Yooooo!!! Go falcons, first time on blog but been reading for years! And yup this our year mane falcons rise up, saints guess you found out what wee known for years!

Daniel Lyons

September 23rd, 2012
7:21 pm

I was here at the game in San Diego. I could not believe all the falcon fans that were here at the stadium. About 7,000 thats what the san diego Charger anouncers were saying. I live here in orange county so I only get to see the falcons play when they go west coast. They really look good Atlanta people. Phillip Rivers in the post locker room said I had no idea what was coming at me, Best defense ive seen since i played new England 3 years ago. Keep up the great work Falcons we love you here in sunny Southern California!!!

Randy Lee

September 23rd, 2012
7:22 pm

I think the Saint`s need to reintroduce their bounty program.

Michael M.

September 23rd, 2012
7:22 pm

I watched that Caints game both teams were terrible………………..Atlanta will whip the Caints big time when they meet……………………..

Jamaaliver

September 23rd, 2012
7:24 pm

Matt Choke?

You out there buddy?

We are in the midst of an Atlanta Sports Renaissance….

enjoy it fellas.

Partspuller

September 23rd, 2012
7:31 pm

What a great start go falcon 3-0 start the dawgs 3-0 start go baby go i,m smilling big time.

David

September 23rd, 2012
7:32 pm

you beat me to the punch (line) Jamaaliver!

Boo

September 23rd, 2012
7:34 pm

Oh my! How does it feel to be 0-3?? I CAN tell you it feels GREAT to be 3-0!!!

Michael

September 23rd, 2012
7:36 pm

Great now the bandwagon fans are coming out the closet again.

The Falcon Project

September 23rd, 2012
7:37 pm

Boo

September 23rd, 2012
7:38 pm

Always been here, always will. Nice to see your new disguise!! LOL! How about 0-4??

Big Daddy

September 23rd, 2012
7:38 pm

Falcons looked great. The defense was outstanding, harrassing Rivers all day and play hard against their receivers. No red zone worries today. Ryan played a great game and tough break on the INT but it was just one. GO FALCONS!!!!

Mr. Mustard

September 23rd, 2012
7:39 pm

Got to acknowledge the “long game” philosophy of Thomas Dimitroff. It looks like we have a solid, versatile complete football team.

With Ryan entering what should be the prime of his career, the risky move to get Julio Jones, insisting versatility on defense and offensive line, this is a franchise on the rise and near the top of the curve.

Keep it up guys, fun, good stuff.

Congratulations and stay focused. Panthers in the Dome, we will be 4-0 next Sunday.

Add in the other teams in our division falling near perfectly for us, this could be one special year.

Of course, if we make the playoffs, will we be the smart aggressive team we are now, or the tentative, soft team that plays it safe?

With Nolan and Koertier (sp?) I say we advance

Go Falcons.

backatcha

September 23rd, 2012
7:40 pm

3-0! I sense this might be our year! Still ALOT of football to be played. Stay hungry!!! TOO EARLY to get excited!

GregKennesaw

September 23rd, 2012
7:40 pm

Hey Choke,

Choke on 3-0 baby!

DawginNY

September 23rd, 2012
7:40 pm

Falcons win; the rest of the NFC South loses. Braves win; Nats lose. Dawgs win; Jackets lose. What a great day.

Kd

September 23rd, 2012
7:40 pm

Oh, and I wasn’t feeling decoud untill this season, lets see if him and the hammer can keep it up untill our February New Orleans trip

Boo

September 23rd, 2012
7:41 pm

Michael – And what about your draft pick for next year……NOT!!!! LOL

dbird1

September 23rd, 2012
7:44 pm

Seen…(crickets chirping)…are you there? Tess fish, Moore and Decoud bust right?? Saints 0-3.bwaahaaa haaaa haaa

Post-It

September 23rd, 2012
7:44 pm

Only a few of the supposed “experts” picked the Falcons to win this game. It will be interesting to see where we end up in the various power rankings with the 49ers losing. Not that it really matters until the end of the season. I’ll enjoy seeing the Saints down near the bottom almost more than us being at the top!

(Never) SeenThisB4

September 23rd, 2012
7:45 pm

My how the shoe seems to be on the other foot lately. Falcons can’t seem to lose and the Saints can’t seem to win…..Who Dat? We Dat…..Go Falcons!!!!

Boo

September 23rd, 2012
7:47 pm

Let’s have a moment of silence for the Aints. Someone send them some brown paper bags!

(Never) SeenThisB4

September 23rd, 2012
7:48 pm

Looks like the Falcons basically win the AFC West having beaten 3 of the 4 teams this far. Any thought that Oakland could hang with the Birdz is ludicrous. Now we need to start taking care of business in the NFC South by handling Carolina next week.

DHD

September 23rd, 2012
7:48 pm

Where are the Ain’ts fans?

Michael M.

September 23rd, 2012
7:49 pm

Bet those Ciant fans so darn mad they can’t hardly stand it no more………………………….I wonder if Atlanta will get any praise on nfl.com, fox sprors blah blah etc etc now………………

Boo

September 23rd, 2012
7:50 pm

(Never) SeenThisB4 – If this is REALLY you, I can’t believe you said that!

Nativebird

September 23rd, 2012
7:50 pm

Matt Ryan will win the Superbowl…..with what team is the question. He’s the best thing this franchise has ever owned…..including the current HC and GM.

(Never) SeenThisB4

September 23rd, 2012
7:51 pm

….oh yeah, and the media favorite 49ers got handled by the Vikings too! It is a good sports weekend.

Fan Since 1966

September 23rd, 2012
7:52 pm

“The Saints Are On The Clock!!! LMAO

UPGRAYEDD

September 23rd, 2012
7:53 pm

Well, it looks like it may have been Mularkey and Van Gorder and their unimaginative schemes that were holding us back all this time. We’ve got the players, the coaches, and the front office to push this team through the playoffs. We certainly don’t have a lot of competition in our division.

(Never) SeenThisB4

September 23rd, 2012
7:53 pm

@Boo – said what?

rm

September 23rd, 2012
7:55 pm

Big win on the road with the short week! Nice job birds!!

Boo

September 23rd, 2012
7:55 pm

@SeenThisB4
For a moment, I thought you were a TRUE sorts fan.

The Real Rick

September 23rd, 2012
7:56 pm

That was the best game of the Smith/Ryan era…got the lead…defense held and the running game came alive to keep the clock moving…they were clicking on all three phases today…awesome awesome performance….

Ryan should be NFC player of the week and de coud should be defensive player….

Who dat? Uh….the redskins, the bucs and the chiefs …..

The Real Rick

September 23rd, 2012
7:56 pm

That was the best game of the Smith/Ryan era…got the lead…defense held and the running game came alive to keep the clock moving…they were clicking on all three phases today…awesome awesome performance….

Ryan should be NFC player of the week and de coud should be defensive player….

Who dat? Uh….the redskins, the bucs and the chiefs …..

Paddy

September 23rd, 2012
7:57 pm

Seen & Choke won’t be coming on board today. It sort of shows that they are smarter than we all gave them credit for!

(Never) SeenThisB4

September 23rd, 2012
7:57 pm

@Boo – I am a TRUE sports fan. Falcons are the class of the league right now and the Saints are obviously in disarray.

Boo

September 23rd, 2012
7:57 pm

SeenThisB4 – Sorry, SPORTS fan!