Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons didn’t need another 300-yard performance from Julio Jones to decipher Denver’s dazzling defence and wreck Paxton Lynch’s first NFL start with a 23-16 win over Broncos on Sunday.
Using a steady dose of I-formation runs and short passes that put Denver’s linebackers in coverage, the Falcons (4-1) handed the Super Bowl champs their first loss since Dec. 20, 2015, at Pittsburgh and left the Minnesota Vikings (5-0) as the NFL’s last unbeaten team.
The Broncos (4-1) were on their heels having to respect the play-action because Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman were so effective running the ball, combining for 119 yards and a 4.4-yard average.
A week after setting a franchise record with 503 yards passing in a runaway win over Super Bowl 50’s other participant, the Carolina Panthers, Ryan threw for 267 yards Sunday and only two of those (covering 29 yards) went to Jones.
Coleman, who played despite having sickle cell trait, which can sometimes be exacerbated at altitude, showed off his breakaway speed by catching four passes for 132 yards to go with his 31 yards on six carries.
Ryan’s rather modest total included a 31-yard touchdown toss to Coleman following Ricardo Allen’s interception at the Denver 42 in the third quarter that made it 20-3.
That sequence sent some flustered fans streaming for the exits as the Falcons finished off the Broncos, who hadn’t lost at home since Dec. 13 against Oakland.
The Broncos don’t have much time to digest the loss. They play at San Diego on Thursday night, and their hope is that Trevor Siemian’s bruised left shoulder is healed by then.Report Typo/Error