Ryan, Falcons Pick Apart Arizona: 3 Things We Learned
For the first time, the Atlanta Falcons looked like they put it all together on offense while the defense showed it could hold the Arizona Cardinals offense at bay in a 29-18 win on Sunday.
The win was more than important as the Falcons hold a tie-breaker lead over the New Orleans Saints, who beat Pittsburgh earlier in the day.
Matt Ryan was on target for the majority of the game, throwing for 361 yards and two touchdowns. Steven Jackson ran for 101 yards and Julio Jones got into the act – not to be left out – with 10 receptions for 189 yards and a score.
Atlanta is now 5-7 (as is New Orleans) in a quest to claim the NFC South title.
The 101 yards for Jackson marked the first time since the sixth game of last season that Arizona had conceded a 100-yard rusher.
Here are three things we learned from Sunday’s win.
ARIZONA LOSSES MORE THAN GAME
Sooner or later Drew Stanton would have a poor game. Actually, it started last week against Detroit.
Arizona (9-3) still leads the NFC West after its second straight loss, but its lead over defending Super Bowl champion Seattle has dwindled to a single game.
More troubling for the Cardinals, they had gone more than 11 quarters without an offensive touchdown until a meaningless score with just over a minute remaining.
OFFENSIVE ON OFFENSE
Matt Ryan completed 7-of-8 passes for 167 yards, a touchdown and an interception on balls thrown at least 15 yards downfield Sunday, including 5-of-6 for 130 yards, a touchdown and an interception when targeting Julio Jones. Jones' five deep receptions tie a career high. Coming into the game, the Cardinals had allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 32.1% of passes thrown at least 15 yards downfield, third best in the league.
Steven Jackson rushed for 101 yards Sunday, including 72 yards after contact, his most in a game since Week 8 of 2009 (79 against Lions). Jackson had not reached 40 rush yards after contact in any of his first 23 games as a Falcon. Jackson's 72 rush yards after contact are the second most allowed by the Cardinals this season (Joique Bell - 76 in Week 11).
HAVING RYAN’S NUMBER
Matt Ryan threw his 10th interception in his last 3 games against Cardinals. Rashad Johnson returned it for the INT for a TD for Arizona. Johnson has 4 interceptions in his last 3 games against Ryan. It's also the Cardinals' 3rd interception return for a touchdown this season, tied for the most in the league.
Through the end of the 3rd quarter, the Cardinals offense has gone 10 consecutive quarters without scoring a touchdown. Arizona has failed to score a TD on its last 26 offensive drives.
The Cardinals are trailing 17-0 at the end of the 1st quarter. It is their largest 1st-half deficit this season.