Ryan and Falcons show offensive skill during Sunday battle with Saints

Published 6:54 pm Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Sunday’s season opening NFL game between the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome was one of the most exciting and nerve-raking games I have witnessed.

While sitting and watching the game on television, my emotions ranged from worry to hope to joy. I finished the experience realizing I had just watched two of the best quarterbacks in the league go head-to-head.

The Falcons Matt Ryan and the Saints Drew Brees tried to one-up each other, leading their teams on scoring drive after scoring drive.

Ryan, who played at Boston College, and Brees, who played at Purdue, are two of the best signal callers in the league, and they brought their teams back time after time.

Falcons place kicker Matt Bryant, who pulled the Falcons even 34-34 with a 51-yard field goal as time ran out in regulation, kicked the game winner from 52 yards away in overtime.

The Saints won the toss in overtime and elected to receive. Falcons safety William Moor set up the winning field goal when he knocked the ball loose from Saints wide receiver Marques Colson after he received a pass from Brees and his teammate linebacker Joplo Bartu recovered at the New Orleans 38-yard-line.

Ryan completed 31 of 43 passes for a team record 448 yards and three touchdowns. Their 568 total yards was also a team record. Ryan has thrown 156 career touchdowns, which gives him that team recorded previously held by former Falcons quarterback Steve Bartkowski.

I am old enough to remember when Bartkowski, who played at the University of California, quarterbacked the Falcons. He is on the Falcons Wall of Fame and one of his teammates, tight end Claud Humphry, was inducted into the Wall of Fame Sunday at halftime.

While the Falcons went 4-12 last year, they were just one win away from making it to the Super Bowl two years ago. A win like Sunday’s over the Saints could propel them into another strong season and deep playoff run.

Although he had to miss the second half after suffering a high ankle sprain at the end of the first half, Falcons number one draft choice and starting left tackle Jake Matthews, who played at Texas A&M, was very impressive when he was in there.

The left tackle is always the most important offensive lineman to any right hand throwing quarterback. He keeps the rush away from his blind side and Matthews did a superb job of that in the first half.  I hope he will be able to return next Sunday when the Falcons travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals and former outstanding Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver A.J. Green.

While the Falcons still have some work to do on defense, their offense and special teams seem solid.