Robert Alford returned an interception for a touchdown in overtime to lift the Falcons over the Washington Redskins and help Atlanta remain unbeaten. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter reports.
Robert Alford’s 59-yard interception return propelled the Falcons to a 25-19 victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday at the Georgia Dome.
The Falcons needed all of running back Devonta Freeman’s 197 total yards as quarterback Matt Ryan was a turnover machine, was woefully off target and out of sync with Julio Jones.
The Falcons are off to a 5-0 start for the first time since 2012, which opened 8-0. Falcons coach Dan Quinn is the only rookie head coach in team history to start off 5-0.
Ryan and Jones were the two lowest graded Falcons on offense by profootballfocus.com.
Here are the grades from the win:
Game balls: Devonta Freeman and Robert Alford. Freeman rushed for 153 yards on 27 carries and caught seven passes for 44 yards. Alford fought through a pass interference call to come back and win the game in overtime with an interception he returned for a touchdown.
Quarterbacks, D-plus. Ryan has had better days. Ryan completed 24 of 42 passes for 254 yards and finished with a 55.1 passer rating. It was Ryan’s lowest passer rating since he had a 48.6 in Week 2 against Cincinnati last season. It was Ryan’s lowest passer rating in a victory during his pro career. The Falcons beat Tampa Bay 13-10 on Dec. 14, 2009 when he had a 57.5 passer rating.
Running backs, A-minus. Freeman carried the offense, but was loose with the ball in the redzone. He had a fumble and didn’t secure the catch after breaking the plane. Coleman returned to the action with 3 yards on two carries. Freeman averaged 5.7 yards per carry. With Freeman’s rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter, he became the first player with eight or more rushing touchdowns in a team’s first five games of a season since LaDainian Tomlinson (9) and Shaun Alexander (8) in 2005. The Falcons 176 rushing yards were the highest rushing total the offense has recorded since Week 17 of 2011 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (251 rushing yards). Freeman forced five missed tackles, which tied for the third most amongst running backs in Week 5. Freeman’s 5.7 yards per carry average tied for fourth most of any running back in Week 5.
Wide receivers/tight ends, C. Ryan was off, but there were too many dropped passes, too. Julio Jones had two and tight end Jacob Tamme had one. Jones and Tamme were targeted 10 times. Tamme caught eight for 94 yards. Jones only caught five of his targets for 67 yards. Roddy White had two catches off four targets for 23 yards. He had a clutch grab on fourth down in the fourth quarter. The Falcons need to get White more involved in the passing game. Tamme getting 10 targets? Nick Williams on a bomb? Get Roddy the football.
Offensive line, B. The run blocking was awesome for Freeman. But the pass protection was not special and may have led to some of Ryan’s errant passes. Ryan was sacked three times and hit three times. Ryan left the pocket three other times to avoid sacks. Washington’s Ryan Kerrigan broke loose for two tackles. Jake Long was active, but didn’t play. Right tackle Ryan Schraeder was the highest graded Falcon on offense in Week 5 by profootballfocus.com He gave up no hurries, no hits and just one sack allowed. Left guard Andy Levitre had another strong game. He gave up four hurries, no hits, and no sacks against the Redskins.
Defensive line, A. The Falcons shut down Washington's vaunted rushing attack, which was tops in the league and was averaging at 139.5 yards per game. The Falcons held Matt Jones to 20 yards rushing on 11 carries. Alfred Morris was held to 15 yards on eight carries. The Redskins had 51 yards on 24 carries for very strong 2.1 yards per carry. The pass rush didn’t produce much. Linebacker Nate Stupar had the only sack. Vic Beasley received his third straight negative grade from profootballfocus.com, but he did have two quarterback hurries.
Linebackers, A-plus: Joplo Bartu was announced as the starter for Justin Durant in the press box before the game, but Nate Stupar started for him as the Falcons opened in their nickel package. He finished with four tackles, a sack and one quarterback hurry. Paul Worrilow led the Falcons with nine tackles which included him sniffing a screen pass on third-down that force a field goal attempt with 2:42 left in regulation. If the Redskins scored a touchdown, they would have taken 20-12 lead.
Defensive backs, C-plus. The grade is so low because the defensive backs had four penalties. Desmond Trufant had two defensive holding calls (one was declined, the other was offsetting). Alford had a 42-yard defensive pass interference call and safety Ricardo Allen had an offensive holding call on special teams. The Falcons held Washington's Pierre Garcon to three catches. Alford big interception saved the day. The Falcons had three pass deflections.
Special teams, C-plus. Punter Matt Bosher had one punt for 51 yards. Matt Bryant, missed two straight field goals against the Redskins. Bryant snapped a streak of 14 straight makes dating back to last season, first hitting the right upright and next hitting the left upright. “It’s a very different feeling, but sometimes those days happen,” Bryant said. He had made all seven field goal attempts this season, including a 42-yard field goal midway through the second quarter Sunday. After some poor clock management near the end of the first half, Bryant attempted a 28-yarder with seconds remaining on the clock. The attempt hit the right upright and the Falcons trailed 7-3 at the break.The unthinkable happened in the third quarter when Bryant lined up for 48-yard field goal attempt and hit the left upright.
Coaching, C-minus. Quinn was a little shaky at the end of the first half with his clock management. The Falcons had to settle for a field goal attempt that hit the right upright. The Falcons also left the Redskins too much time on the clock at the end of regulation. The Skins used the 24 seconds to come down and force overtime. Also, the Falcons need to get Roddy White some passes. A scheme that doesn’t account for a four-time Pro Bowler until the fourth quarter is bizarre. A former NFL player confirmed that White has been open on several plays, but Ryan’s progression has taken him in other directions like to Nick Williams on a deep pass in the second quarter. Coaches Bobby Turner (running backs) and Chris Morgan (offensive line) have their units playing great.
How did the Falcons get to 5-0?
Here's a look back at the game stories, news and notes from their victories over the Redskins (25-19 in OT), Texans (48-21), Cowboys (39-28), Giants (24-20) and Eagles (26-24).
WASHINGTON GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 25, Redskins 19 in OT
TEXANS GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 48, Texans 21
COWBOYS GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 39, Cowboys 28
GIANTS GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 24, Giants 20
EAGLES GAME COVERAGE -- FALCONS 26, EAGLES 24