Thursday, September 11, 2014

FIVE THINGS: FALCONS 37, SAINTS 34, OT

1. Overtime Victory Keyed by Moore, Bartu: Entering overtime of the Week 1 matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons, the Saints won the coin toss and elected to receive, but two plays into the drive, Falcons S William Moore forced a fumble, recovered by Falcons LB Joplo Bartu. Falcons K Matt Bryant did the rest, calmly taking the field, nailing a 52-yard game-winning field goal, topping the Saints 37-34.

2. Ryan Leads Game-Tying Drive: With 1:20 to play in the game, trailing by three points to the Saints, and one timeout remaining, Falcons QB Matt Ryan led his team on a game-tying drive that covered 47 yards to the Saints' 33-yard line, when Bryant came onto the field for his second clutch kick of the day (earlier nailing a 40-yard FG), tying the game with a 51-yard FG as time expired, sending the game into overtime.

3. Falcons RB Committee: Trailing 27-24 to the New Orleans Saints in the fourth quarter, Falcons RB Jacquizz Rodgers dropped jaws on his way to the end zone for a 17-yard TD run. The phenomenal run gave the Falcons a fourth-quarter lead, 31-27. Also effective on Sunday were other Falcons RBs, including Antone Smith; trailing the NFC South-rival Saints 20-17, Smith lit up the Georgia Dome, capping off a five-play scoring drive that covered 80 yards in 2:31, when he took a short pass from Ryan and didn't stop running until he hit the end zone, 54 yards later. The score electrified the crowd and gave the Falcons their first lead of the game, 24-20. Falcons RBs Steven Jackson and rookie Devonta Freeman were also a big factor in the team's rushing attack, combining for 14 carries for 67 yards.

4. Historic Second Quarter: Ryan and Falcons WR Roddy White continued adding to their already-remarkable career stats in the second quarter; trailing the Saints 13-0, Ryan found White for a two-yard TD pass to tie former Falcons QB Steve Bartkowski as the franchise-record holders for most-career passing TDs (56). Ryan finished the day 31 of 43 for 448 yards and 3 TDs, also setting the franchise record for single-game passing yards. White's TD was the 56th of his career, tying former Falcons WR Andre Rison for the second-most receiving TDs in franchise history, one behind the current record, held by former Falcons WR Terance Mathis. White finished Sunday with five receptions for 72 yards and the two-yard TD.

5. Strong Second-Half Start Fueled Comeback: Whatever Falcons head coach Mike Smith said to the team at halftime worked as the offense took the ball right down the field on the first drive of the second half, using 12 plays to cover 80 yards in 5:38, when Ryan found Falcons TE Levine Toilolo for a 1-yard TD, giving Ryan the record for most career-passing TDs (155) in franchise history.

EXTRA REPS: Falcons WR Julio Jones finished his season opener with seven catches for 116 yards, while fellow Falcons WRs Harry Douglas and Devin Hester combined for 11 receptions for 168 yards. Falcons LB Paul Worrilow led the team with 15 tackles, followed by S Dwight Lowery (11 tackles) and Bartu (10 tackles).

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