Atlanta intercepted Peyton Manning three times in the first quarter. That led to 10 first quarter points, which was doubled in the second. They took an early 20-0 lead that the Broncos could not overcome. Matt Ryan was steady, not earth shattering, but he didn’t have to be. He completed 24 of 36 for 219 yards and 2 scores. Perhaps even more important was the fact that he didn’t turn the ball over once, as opposed to his counterpart Manning who totaled three. Knowshon Moreno capped that off with a first quarter fumble to bring the total to 4. They didn’t turn it over once in the last 3 quarters, but the damage was done.
I’ll admit that I was concerned that the loss of Brent Grimes would lead to a big game for Peyton. He was coming off a very strong outing against Pittsburgh and Dunta Robinson has yet to impress me in a Falcons uniform. He made some pretty poor decisions though, forcing passes that had no business being thrown. Both starting safeties ended up with a pick, as well as CB Robert McClain who likely wouldn’t have seen the field if Grimes were healthy. I really thought this would be a shootout, but it wasn’t ever too close. McGahee scored two TDs in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 6 with about three and half minutes left. Atlanta got the ball back and never relinquished it. Overall, Denver turned the ball over 4 times and punted 5. Not exactly the most efficient offensive showing.
There are a few points for concern, however. With the four Broncos turnovers, Atlanta scored just 13 points off of them. The Falcons won’t see that many turnovers in every game, so they will have to create their own offense. I was disappointed about how absent Julio Jones was from this game. He is easily the best playmaker on this team, and should see much more targets than he did. He finished with just 14 yards on 4 catches. Roddy White more than made up for that performance with 100 yards and a TD.
Finally, Michael Turner was upsetting on the field and off. He did score a TD, but that was after two tries from the one yard line. He managed just 2.5 YPC, and his lack of speed and elusiveness really no longer fits this offense. To celebrate the win, despite his poor performance, he was caught speeding at 97 MPH at 5 in the morning. As you could have guessed, he added a DUI to the charges. He isn’t likely to be too heavily punished by the league, but could be sidelined a bit more by Atlanta for this latest stunt as well as his performance.
Atlanta is one of six teams in the league that stand at 2-0. They will face another one this Sunday when they head into San Diego. A west coast trip can always take a toll on players, especially on a short week. This has the makings of a shootout with two of the best quarterbacks in the league.