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Falcons vs. Panthers: Hat Tips & Head-Scratchers

There was a lot to love and a bit to loathe, but the Falcons got the job done on Sunday.

Carolina Panthers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons enter Week 3 of the NFL season at 1-1, and now look forward to a matchup against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. But before we completely commit our focus to this week’s game, it’s imperative to take a glance at the good — and the not so good — from the victory over the Carolina Panthers. Here are your Hat Tips & Head-Scratchers for Week 2.

Hat Tips

Calvin Ridley’s first career touchdown

The rookie wide receiver formally introduced himself to the NFL as a red zone threat, hauling in his first career touchdown pass at a pivotal spot in the game. Ridley was lauded for his route running wizardry coming out of college, and he used hesitation and shifty footwork at the line of scrimmage to gain inside leverage on Donte Jackson on the slant.

The result was six points and a tie ballgame, and a tip o’ the hat from the Falcoholic.

Matt Ryan goes Beastmode

Channeling his inner Sage Rosenfels (sans full helicopter fumble), quarterback Matt Ryan went airborne into the end zone after an 8-yard scramble, pushing the lead to two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Ryan had Austin Hooper wide open for the first down, but no, Matt Ryan backs down from no such challenge.

By sheer force of will or insanity, Ryan escaped three Panthers defenders for the leaping score. It was his second rushing touchdown of the game, and Matt Ryan showed no concern for life or limb on his quest to cross the plane. Well done, good sir.

Ricardo Allen’s fourth quarter pick

The victory dance may have started a bit early with this one, but Ricardo Allen snaring Cam Newton’s pass off the hands of C.J. Anderson put the Falcons in prime position to win it. Allen is an integral piece of this defense, and he made the play the defense needed when it mattered most.


Damontae Kazee’s late hit on Cam Newton

We learned yesterday that safety Damontae Kazee may escape a suspension for his late hit on Cam Newton, but that does not mean he will escape our ire. Kazee’s head-to-head hit may not have been intentional, but it was dangerous — for Newton and himself — and foolish. Already entering the Carolina game with a ramshackle defense, Damontae Kazee’s ejection left the Falcons with few options to replace him on the field effectively. If Kazee hopes to have a positive impact on this defense he has to properly control his aggression and know when to let off the gas.

12-Gauge on 3rd-and-1

Dare I say Steve Sarkisian had his best game as a playcaller since he joined the Atlanta Falcons, but this was an odd one. But! Blame for its failure can also be placed on Mohamed Sanu.

With the offense facing a third-and-1 deep in Carolina territory on its opening possession, Sark rolled out the wildcat — err, 12-Gauge — formation. Sanu took the direct snap, and faked the hand-off to Tevin Coleman before ambling to his left and being taken down for the loss. Coleman appeared to have an open running lane to convert the third down.

Weird call, weird execution. Other than this play, however, Steve Sarkisian called a terrific game.

Matt Ryan’s knee brace, Matt Schaub’s hands

Can Matt Ryan get this thing fixed already? That’s twice in two weeks where Ryan has encountered an issue with his knee brace after a slide, but in Sunday’s game it took him off the field for one play.

Enter backup wunderkind Matt Schaub.

Schaub promptly fumbled the snap and thankfully recovered it, but it led to a loss of 8 yards and effectively killed the drive. Get the damn knee brace fixed or practice your slide, Mr. Ryan. Possibly both.