The Falcons improved to 14-3 at home under Mike Smith with a 41-7 win over the Arizona Cardinals
Falcons head coach Mike Smith emphasizes the importance of starting fast. Atlanta set the tone with a nine-play, 70-yard opening drive that ended with QB Matt Ryan's seven-yard TD strike to WR Roddy White. In the first half, the Falcons totaled 261 yards, including 136 yards on the ground. Atlanta also posted 21 first downs and converted five of seven third down attempts (71 percent). For the game, the Falcons totaled 33 first downs. Falling just two shy of the team record of 35, set in 1979 against New Orleans.
QB Matt Ryan connected with White for the Falcons first touchdown of the season on the opening drive of the game. The score marked the 39th touchdown pass of Ryan's career. For White, the touchdown catch was the 28th of his career. Since 2008, White ranks fifth in the NFL with 19 TD receptions.
Ryan completed 21-of-32 pass attempts for 225 yards and three touchdowns. He finished the game with a 117.3 passer rating, marking the 10th time in his career that he has recorded a 100-plus point quarterback rating and the Falcons are now 10-0 when Ryan posts a rating over 100. Since becoming the Falcons starter as a rookie in 2008, Ryan owns a 14-1 record at the Georgia Dome (.933 pct.)
With a 12-yard touchdown pass to WR Brian Finneran in the second half, Ryan tied his career with three TD passes in a single-game. Ryan had accomplished the feat twice before, the last time was 12/27/09 vs. the Buffalo Bills. Finneran recorded his first touchdown since 12/7/08 at New Orleans on the play.
In the first two games of 2010, White has caught 20 passes. That is the highest number of receptions in back-to-back games of his career. White previously hauled in a total of 17 passes in back-to-back games three different times. White led the team with seven receptions for 78 yards and one touchdown in Sunday's win over Arizona.
On the second play of the second half, S William Moore recorded the first interception of his career, picking off Arizona QB Derek Anderson's pass and returning it 31 yards, setting up another Falcons touchdown. Making his first career start in place of the injured Erik Coleman, Moore also added two tackles and a quarterback hit.
RB Jason Snelling carried a large part of the offensive load for the Falcons scoring both rushing and receiving touchdowns while racking up 129 yards on 24 carries and 57 yards on five receptions. The Richmond, Va., native scored two rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown, setting a new career best for touchdowns in a single-game with three. It was also the first time in his career that he recorded rushing and receiving touchdowns in the same game. Snelling's previous career best was two touchdowns, the last time coming on 11/22/09 against the New York Giants.
Snelling posted the most all-purpose yards of his career with 186 total yards. His 129 yards on the ground were also the second most of his career. His career best rushing and previous all-purpose yardage totals came in the 2009 season finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when he logged 147 rushing yards and 168 all-purpose yards.
With the Cardinals facing a third down inside Falcon territory at the 47-yard line in the first quarter, CB Chris Owens intercepted Anderson's pass and returned it 13 yards into Arizona territory. It was Owens' third career interception and dating back to 2009, Owens has recorded a pick in three of his last for games. The 13-yard return also tied his career long.
Rookie LB Sean Weatherspoon recorded his first career sack, bringing down Anderson for a nine-yard loss on a first down play in the second quarter.
DT Jonathan Babineaux recorded his first sack of 2010. It was the 15th sack of Babineaux's career. Since 2009, Babineaux and Cardinals DT Darnell Dockett lead all defensive tackles with seven sacks.
Atlanta converted five of its seven trips inside the redzone (71 percent). The Falcons also converted three of their four series when in goal-to-go situations, not including Ryan's four kneel downs at the end of the game.
The Falcons have put a premium on converting third downs in 2010 after struggling in those crucial situations in 2009. Against the Cardinals, Atlanta converted 11 of 17 third downs (65 percent), including a stretch of seven consecutive conversions beginning in the second quarter and ending in the third. The Falcons also finished with 33 first downs and rolled up 444 yards of offense.
Atlanta has also focused on improving its third down defense. Defensively, the Falcons did not allow the Cardinals to convert a single third down in eight tries. In two games, the Falcons have allowed opponents to convert just four of 22 third downs (18 percent).
After settling for three field goals against the Steelers, the Falcons offense had a breakout game putting up 41 points, including 34 points in the first three quarters. Atlanta's 41-point outburst was the highest number of points the team has scored since 10/11/2009, when the Falcons hung 45 on the San Francisco 49ers. It was Atlanta's highest point total at the Dome since 2008, when the Falcons beat Carolina 45-28 at home.
Falcons WR Eric Weems made his first career start. Since being signed by the Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2007, Weems has played in 23 career games, including all 16 games in 2009.