INDIANAPOLIS — The recipe for the Atlanta Falcons moving forward has to involve avoiding slow starts — on both sides of the football.
The Falcons didn’t exactly learn their lesson from a season-opening loss to the Minnesota Vikings, where they fell behind 21-0 and lost 28-12. On the road Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, they fell behind 20-3 and couldn’t come back, losing 27-24.
Matt Ryan vowed to put his five interceptions leading into the game behind him, but he threw yet another costly pick in the second quarter. A pass intended for Luke Stocker was intercepted by Clayton Geathers at the Colts’ 3-yard line. Ryan’s six interceptions are almost as many as he threw all of last season (seven). And three of those have come in scoring situations.
The Colts turned the Ryan pick into a field goal and 13-0 lead. Who knows what the final outcome might have been without that turnover giving Indianapolis momentum.
But it wasn’t all on Ryan. The Falcons’ defense made Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett look like a star, letting him complete his first 16 passes — some off play-action — and hitting the underneath routes with ease.
Dan Quinn took over as the Falcons’ defensive coordinator, but there seemed to be a lot of confusion with personnel changes that led to timeouts and too many men on the field. The Falcons can’t have those things happen and expect to win.
Now the Falcons will try to rebound against Tennessee Titans — possible without enforcer Keanu Neal. Neal, who tore his ACL last season, injured his Achilles and was in tears.
Penalties, penalties: The Falcons really hurt themselves with penalties, like a defensive hold on Damontae Kazee at the 10:33 mark off the fourth quarter that set up a touchdown, and the Ricardo Allen unnecessary roughness that set up the Colts first touchdown. In the game, the Falcons had 16 penalties for 128 yards. Quinn talks about playing with discipline, but the Falcons didn’t do that on Sunday.
Buy this breakout performance: Tight end Austin Hooper had two red zone scores. Hooper has played well this season and should continue to be a threat. With the weapons around him, Hooper is going to get one-on-one opportunities and take advantage of them.
QB breakdown: We talked about the interception, but Ryan was nearly flawless in the second half, completing 22 of 23 passes with three touchdown tosses as each Falcons drive ended with a score. Ryan finished 29 of 34 for 304 yards, and Julio Jones caught eight passes for 128 yards and a score. He’s had a TD in seven straight games.