For the 2023 NFL season, digital team reporter Terrin Waack will provide select stellar stats, obscure facts and notable quotes from the most recent game to show how the Atlanta Falcons are taking flight into the new week.
ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons defeated the Carolina Panthers, 24-10, for their Week 1 matchup at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in front of 69,597 ticketed fans.
-- The 14-point margin of victory was the Falcons' largest in a season opener since their 40-24 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012 at Arrowhead Stadium.
-- Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder now has five career starts under his belt, and he has not thrown an interception in any of them. Since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970, there has only ever been one other quarterback who can say the same (with the requirement that he threw at least 14 pass attempts in each game) and that's Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys. Prescott threw his first pick during his sixth career start in 2016.
-- Bijan Robinson became the first Falcons rookie running back to have a touchdown reception during his debut since Bubba Bean in 1976. Robinson was the eighth Falcons player in general to accomplish the feat, with tight end D.J. Tialavea being the most recent in 2016. (Extra fun note here: Tialavea's touchdown reception also happened to be in a Falcons win over the Panthers.)
-- Between Robinson and Tyler Allgeier, running backs made up 70.8 percent of the Falcons' 48 total offensive touches. Together, they combined for 25 carries and nine targets/receptions, so 34 offensive touches.
-- Falcons tackle Jake Matthews started his 145th career game since Week 3 of the 2014 season. That surpasses former Atlanta center Todd McClure's 144 consecutive starts for the second-longest streak in franchise history.
-- Safety Jessie Bates III is only the sixth Falcons player to record multiple interceptions in Week 1, and he is the first to do so since cornerback Bobby Butler in 1984. Just like Bates (so far), that opener was Butler's sole multi-interception game of his career.
-- The Falcons are 1-0 for the first time since 2017, when they defeated the Chicago Bears, 23-17, on the road in Week 1. That was also the last season Atlanta finished with an overall winning record (10-6) and made a playoff appearance.
-- The last time the Falcons won a Week 1 game at home was 2015, a 26-24 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Atlanta was still playing in the Georgia Dome at that point. So, Sunday signified the first opening win ever for the Falcons in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, since it opened in 2017.
-- When Ridder took the field, he became the third Falcons quarterback in as many years to start in Week 1. That means head coach Arthur Smith has started a different quarterback in every season opener he has coached in Atlanta: Matt Ryan, Marcus Mariota and -- now -- Ridder.
-- The Falcons had zero net passing yards at halftime, despite Ridder completing eight of his 10 pass attempts.
-- Ridder's first completion of the 2023 season was to himself for a loss of 6 yards thanks to a deflection. He had more receptions on the stat sheet, albeit just the one, than wide receiver Drake London, who was the Falcons' leading receiver in 2022.
-- Allgeier scored two rushing touchdowns in one game for the first time in his career, both on 3-yard runs. Granted, he's in his second season, but Allgeier was the Falcons' leading rusher last year. The number of rushing touchdowns he scored as a rookie? Three.
QUOTING ARTHUR SMITH
On the team's performance as a whole and how it could have been better…
"When you get a win like that, you're not behind the count. We'll never apologize for winning. We know we've got a lot of work. That's the National Football League, to keep improving. Don't ever stay the same."
QUOTING THE FALCONS
Offensive tackle Jake Matthews
On winning the season opener for first time since 2017…
"Obviously, there's a lot of room for improvement. But hey, we won the first game. It's something to be proud of. It's hard to win in the NFL. We'll get to work, fix things and get ready for next week."
Cornerback A.J. Terrell
On being over .500 for the first time since 2017…
"It's Week 1. A win or loss, you're either going to be 1.00 or you're not. We just have to keep stacking, just keep digging game by game and try to go 1-0 each week."
QUOTING THE OPPONENT
Panthers head coach Frank Reich
On his immediate reaction to this loss…
"Atlanta, they were opportunistic. They were opportunistic as a team. I saw some encouraging things on the field today in all three phases, but we have to own the fact that we did not play well enough as a team."
Panthers outside linebacker Brian Burns
On the possibility of him not playing but then deciding to:
"I spent a lot of time with myself. I cut off the world for one important minute. I had some great advice from my friend Justin Houston; he gave me some great advice. Just cut off the world, and I talked to God. So that's what I did. And I played."
Top 3 rushers
- Falcons: Tyler Allgeier, 15 carries for 75 yards and two touchdowns
- Panthers: Miles Sanders, 18 carries for 72 yards
- Panthers: Chuba Hubbard, nine carries for 60 yards
Top 3 receivers
- Falcons: Kyle Pitts, two receptions for 44 yards
- Panthers: Hayden Hurst, five receptions for 41 yards and a touchdown
- Falcons: Mack Hollins, three receptions for 31 yards
Top 3 passers
- Panthers: Bryce Young, 20-38-2 for 146 yards and a touchdown (sacked twice)
- Falcons: Desmond Ridder, 15-18-0 for 115 yards and a touchdown (sacked four times)
Top 3 defenders
- Falcons: Jessie Bates III, 10 total tackles, five solo (two interceptions, a forced fumble)
- Falcons: Troy Anderson, 10 total tackles, three solo (half sack)
- Panthers: Derrick Brown, nine total tackles, eighth solo (a sack)
The Falcons (1-0) remain in Atlanta to host the Green Bay Packers (1-0) at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Action from Mercedes-Benz Stadium will air on FOX.
The Packers won their Week 1 game against the Chicago Bears, 38-20.
Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers during Week 1.