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Falcons numbers nest: Week 1

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Kevin C. Cox

The Falcons started the 2014 season with a major win over a division rival. Their offense put up 568 yards in one of the most impressive performances we've seen from this group.

Putting up over 500 yards gives us a lot of numbers to look at. I went through stats from Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Reference and the Falcons communications team to highlight some of the notable numbers from Week 1.

Improved pass protection

Matt Ryan was sacked 40 times in 2013. He was hurried on another 206 occasions. The Falcons offensive line was tough to watch at times, but a few new additions and the tutelage of Mike Tice might transform the front five into a reliable group. Look at the vast improvement.

Time to throw (seconds) Percent of dropbacks under pressure
2013 2.61 41.3%
2014 2.75 27.7%

It's amazing to see what Ryan can do when he has time in the pocket. Sam Baker is done for the year, Jake Matthews left the game with an injury, but the numbers are still far better than 2013. Let's hope this trends continues.

Throwing downfield

Ryan completed 5-of-6 passes on targets of 20-plus yards downfield, the most in the league from Week 1. Nick Foles and Austin Davis tied for second in that category with three completions. Julio Jones is always a threat to stretch the field, but Devin Hester was getting in the mix as well.

Backfield production

The Falcons might not have a workhorse leading the running game, but the four running backs in action on Sunday made the most of their snaps. All four backs made at least one reception, and they also fought for extra yardage on carries.

Carries Yds after contact/carry
Steven Jackson 12 3.25
Jacquizz Rodgers 6 3.33
Devonta Freeman 2 4.5
Antone Smith 2 2.5

The 500-yard club

  • The Falcons 568 yard-mark was the highest single-game total in team history. They've put up 500-plus yards against the Saints in three games in the series history now.
  • Dating back to 1947, 33 teams have given up 500-plus yards in Week 1. Only six of those teams went on to make the playoffs. The last team was the 2000 Denver Broncos. Sorry, Saints.
  • Of those 33 teams to gain 500 yards in Week 1, 23 finished the season with a winning record. Just a guess, but I think the Falcons surpass four wins in 2014.

A few other notes

  • Matt Bryant's game-winning field goal was the 17th of his career.
  • The Falcons are 19-1 when Ryan throws three or more touchdowns.
  • Since last season, Antone Smith has 10 touches for 216 yards and three touchdowns.
  • Only 16 quarterbacks have started an NFL season with a 400-yard passing game. Three of them are currently playing in the NFC South: Ryan (2014), Cam Newton (2011) and Drew Brees (2008).