SAN DIEGO — Here are the Falcons’ grades for the 27-3 win over the San Diego Chargers:
A — QUARTERBACKS: Matt Ryan directed touchdown drives of 10 and 17 plays. Atlanta is the only team in the NFL to score a touchdown on its opening possession in each of its first three games of 2012. Ryan completed 75 percent of his passes. He moved the action around to eight different receivers, but saw his franchise-record streak of 272 pass attempts without throwing an interception snapped. Luke McCown made his Atlanta debut.
C-plus — RUNNING BACKS: Turner finished strong and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. Rodgers averaged 3.2 yards per carry. “He ran the ball very well,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said of Turner. “His shoulders were downfield and he was more aggressive as he attacked the line of scrimmage.”
A-minus — RECEIVERS: Tight end Tony Gonzalez repeatedly used his body to get open and led the team with nine catches for 91 yards and his 98th career touchdown. Julio Jones and Roddy White both had five catches, but they get minus for White’s blatant push-off that cost the team a touchdown.
A-minus — OFFENSIVE LINE: Matt Ryan’s was sacked twice and there didn’t appear to be many holes for Turner and Rodgers to run through early in the game. The unit was able to wear down the Chargers and open some holes late.
B – DEFENSIVE LINE: Defensive end John Abraham had the only sack, but the unit was buzzing around San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers for most of the game. They were stout against the run as they helped to hold San Diego running back Ryan Mathews to 44 yards rushing on 10 carries.
A — LINEBACKERS: Akeem Dent (three), Stephen Nicholas (six) and Sean Weatherspoon (five) combined for 14 tackles. Weatherspoon forced a fumble that helped to get the blow out started.
A — DEFENSIVE BACKS: Thomas DeCoud put on a coverage clinic on San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates. He finished with two interceptions, three passes defense and had one fumble recovery. He’s playing at a Pro Bowl level.
B — SPECIAL TEAMS: Dominique Franks provided two good drive starts with punt returns of 12 and 22 yards. Josh Harris had a bad snap on an extra point attempt. Matt Bosher averaged 44.6 yards on five punts and placed two down inside the Chargers’ 20-yard line.
A — COACHING: The Falcons traveled well and jumped on the Chargers by scoring on their opening drive. The defense continued to be opportunistic by creating four turnovers for the second straight game. The unit played much better against San Diego’s rushing attack. Smith has compiled a 46-21 record in four-plus seasons as Falcons head coach. Sunday’s win against the Chargers tied him with Leeman Bennett who posted a 46-41 record between 1977 and 1982. Smith trails only Dan Reeves who went 49-59-1 from 1997-03. Next up, Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers at 1 p.m. at the Georgia Dome.
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