First-Team Offense Gets Back on Track:After a frustrating start last week, Matt Ryan and the first-team offense did what it sought to do against Cleveland: develop a rhythm and score some points. Atlanta went 71 yards on its first drive, capped by a 19-yard Devonta Freeman touchdown run.
The third offensive series was productive, too — seven plays, 41 yards — but ended with a dropped pass at the first down marker and a missed field goal attempt.
"I thought he really looked sharp and came out and performed (well), just getting some of the connections going right off the bat," Quinn said about Ryan. "Any time when the running game and the play-action that goes along with it (is working), it's a handful. And that was certainly the case tonight."
Sanu Chips In:Mohamed Sanu became an integral part of the passing offense, hauling in three receptions on five targets for 45 receiving yards. His longest play of the contest, a 32-yard reception, showed how he can use his footwork to discover open space in tight areas.
Reed, Clayborn Make Noise:Brooks Reed and Adrian Clayborn, each entering their second year with Atlanta, turned in a pair of solid performances. Reed tallied four tackles, a tackle for loss and a QB pressure that forced an incompletion. Clayborn registered the first sack of the evening and promptly followed that up with a tackle for loss on the next snap.
"We're coming along," Dwight Freeney, who made his Falcons debut, said of the defensive line. "We're coming along real great. We're not exactly where we want to be, but the thing is, as long as we're taking steps in a positive direction every single day in practice and definitely in preseason games — when you can actually hit the other guys, not run by them and say we got them — it really works to our benefit. I think we have some work to do, but I think we're doing well."
Efficient on Third Down:A big reason why the offense clicked was its success on third down. Through 45 minutes, Atlanta converted on eight of 13 third downs — quite an improvement from last Thursday, when they went two for 10 on such plays. Ryan and Co. started 3-for-3 on third downs, which allowed them to march down the field and take an early 7-0 lead.
Wilds Runs Wild, Again:College free agent signing Brandon Wilds continued to help his stock. The University of South Carolina product rushed for 49 yards on eight carries, a 6.1-yard average, and scored a touchdown for the second straight week — this one coming on a 32-yard sprint down the left side of the field. With a chance to earn the third RB spot behind Freeman and Tevin Coleman, Wilds has done what he can to show the Falcons hecan thrive within Kyle Shanahan's system.
Fellow RB Cyrus Gray was productive, as well. He finished with 76 yards on 18 carries and remains in the mix for a spot on the 53-man roster.
"The running backs, the offensive line, I thought they stole the show tonight," Quinn said. "I was pleased with the running backs; they were totally pulling for one another."