Matt Ryan threw 5 interceptions in the game without a single TD. The Cardinals jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter and looked to be in control of the game early on. The Falcons had no answer for the running game, allowing third string RB Stephens-Howling to rush for 127 yards. Despite all of that, Atlanta escaped with a win. This certainly won’t go in the highlight reel at the end of the year. Ryan easily played the worst game of the season, and one of the worst of his career. He topped 300 yards, but didn’t throw a single TD. The Cards have some talent on defense, but in no way should Ryan play so poorly. This isn’t an elite D.
The Falcons knocked starter John Skelton early, bring in actually the third string Ryan Lindley in to the fold. He struggled as you might have expected a third stringer to. Of course, Stephens-Howling is technically a third stringer and he shredded the Falcons. The concern going forward is teams exploiting the run defense of Atlanta, because they are not having success stopping the run. If they can’t rely on their offense to jump out to leads, the defense will have to worry about the running game much more going forward.
As for Ryan, I’ll take this game as a minor lapse in what has been a great season. He should rebound, especially with Tampa Bay next on the schedule. The Bucs have a rough secondary, and they just shipped top corner Aqib Talib off to New England. Tampa has been red hot recently, so this won’t be an easy task. With the Falcons run defense struggling the biggest concern will be star rookie runner Doug Martin. Atlanta will have to play a lot better next week if they expect to win.