The Atlanta Falcons (1-2) put forth a valiant effort in the second half, scoring 21 points in the final two quarters, but it wasn't enough to overcome a slow start in their 27-24 road loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
Tight end Austin Hooper was a major part of Atlanta's comeback attempt, catching touchdown passes on back-to-back drives and finishing the game with six catches for 66 yards. Both of Hooper's touchdown catches came inside of the red zone, and if he can continue to be a reliable option for Matt Ryan near the goal line the Falcons' already dangerous offense will only be more formidable.
Hooper also proved difficult to bring down in the open field. He led all Falcons with 34 yards after the catch and was once again a trusted receiver for Ryan throughout the afternoon.
He's not the only one who turned in a praiseworthy performance on Sunday, here are some other Falcons who are trending upwards:
After a slow start to the season, Freeman exploded out of the gate on Sunday; he had a 28-yard gain on the first offensive play of the game for the Falcons. Freeman was efficient as a runner, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and finishing with 88 yards on 16 carries. With Ito Smith leaving the game early due to an injury, Freeman carried the load on the ground and reminded us why he can be a crucial part of Atlanta's offense.
It wasn't the flashiest performance, but Ishmael had a solid game for the Falcons' defense. He finished tied for the second-most solo tackles, wracking up six on the afternoon, including a tackle for a loss. Ishmael has been a versatile player during his career with the Falcons, but he's moved back to safety for this season. He figures to be an important player for Atlanta moving forward, given the injury to Keanu Neal on Sunday.
Ryan's day did not start the way many would have hoped. He tossed his sixth interception of the season on the Falcons' second offensive possession, which had reached deep into Colts territory. But he never looked back from there, and he was as hot as hot can be in the second half. He completed his first 18 passes after halftime and would have been a perfect 23-of-23 in the second half if not for a drop by Freeman. Ryan was 29-of-34 against the Colts for 304 yards with three touchdowns and the interception.