Even if it's not pretty, getting a win in week one makes the air you breathe a bit fresher going into week two. And the air in Atlanta is pretty fresh right now as the Falcons took week one over the Panthers. It was a slow first half for both teams, but the Falcons came out with fire and scored 17 points in the second half, only allowing three. Tremendous performances by Tyler Allgeier, Bijan Robinson, and Jessie Bates III fueled the Falcons the entire way to start the season 1-0. Let's dig a little deeper into the game!
As stated above, the first half was very lackadaisical on the offensive side of the ball; Desmond Ridder was not looking comfortable as he only had eight completions for 24 yards and one touchdown on a bubble screen to Bijan Robinson. Robinson was the light for the Falcons' offense throughout the first two quarters, scoring the only touchdown from 11 yards out. Just watching this play proves how good of an athlete he is.
Another highlight of the first half was Jessie Bates' first interception, picking off Bryce Young in the Panthers' part of the field, which would set up the Robinson touchdown. Bates would go on to have another interception in the game in the 3rd quarter, which would set up more points for the Falcons on a Younghoe Koo 49-yard field goal. Oh, but Bates wasn't finished yet. On the next Panthers drive, he would force a fumble that Lorenzo Carter recovered. Bates' final stat line of the game was ten tackles, two passes defended, two interceptions, and one forced fumble. The singing of Bates in the off-season proved to be good, as he was the top performer of the Falcons defense.
Tyler Allgeier reminded Falcons fans that he was a 1,000-yard rusher last season, as he ran for two touchdowns in the second half and looked like a bowling ball running through Carolina's defense. On Allgeier's first touchdown, it looked like he would be stopped behind the line of scrimmage, but he then made a beautiful cut to the outside and scored by reaching for the pylon. His second touchdown was set up on a spectacular catch by Kyle Pitts. Pitts was double-covered and being interfered with and still came up with that catch that resulted in a 34-yard gain. Two plays later, Allgieier would run in for his second score.
Atlanta's second half was almost exactly how they looked last year, running the ball hard and completing short passes, with occasional shots downfield. Ridder's play in the first half was not the best, but he looked much more patient in the pocket and made some nice throws. He still has yet to throw an interception in the NFL regular season (crossing my fingers that he keeps that streak). Unlike former Falcons QB Marcus Mariota, Ridder was patient and didn't try to force the "big play" like Mariotia would last year, which would usually result in a turnover. This is not a bad start for Ridder; he'll have an excellent test next week against Green Bay.
Finally, I want to address that Drake London only had one target on Sunday. This is not concerning to me; it looked early on that Arthur Smith was calling plays that put London as the number one read, but it was obvious that the Panthers were trying to take away as much as they could from Ridder, so why not take away his number one target. The adjustment was made in the second half, and two touchdowns were scored on runs. The Falcons finished with 130 total rushing yards and 91 total passing yards. They played to their strengths, and Carolina took away the wrong part of the Falcons' offense.
Oh, one point I do want to mention from my preview article. Look below...
(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)