The Atlanta Falcons (3-6) were without Calvin Ridley on Sunday in their 34-27 win over the Denver Broncos (3-5) and didn't seem to miss a beat offensively.
That's in large part due to play of Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Olamide Zaccheaus and Brandon Powell who all contributed significantly to the win. Ryan threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns. Two of his three touchdown passes were to players who had yet to score a touchdown this season: Zaccheaus and Powell.
yan's first score of the day came when he hit Zaccheaus deep down the field on a 51-yard play. Zaccheaus has developed into a player who's capable of creating explosive passing plays for Atlanta's offense in the last two years. Zaccheaus finished the game with four catches for 103 yards.
Next up to score for the Falcons was Powell when Ryan made his best throw of the day for a nine-yard touchdown play to put the Falcons up 17-3 in the second quarter. Powell also went undrafted in 2018 and this was his first career touchdown. The Falcons went into halftime leading 20-3. Ryan's third score of the game when he found a wide-open Jones in for a 21-yard play.
Zaccheaus and Powell stepped up in place of Ridley and earned the respect of running back Todd Gurley who saw the work they put in all week during practice.
"They did a great job," Gurley said. "The offense did a great job; those two touchdowns came on third down. You take those two touchdowns away, that's a close ball game. Credit to Matt for staying in there and slinging it and those guys coming in and stepping up and playing big. Shout out to those guys, you have to give credit. Those guys have been working hard every day in practice."
Over Ryan's 13-year career, he's played with a lot of talented wide receivers and he believes the unit he has now is just as good as any one he's ever played with.
And considering those groups have produced some of the franchise's best players over the last decade, that's quite the complement to this unit.
"I love our group; I think it's a group of guys that works extremely hard," Ryan said.
"They are all talented, they are all tough. It's a really good group, I've been lucky throughout my career to play with some great players and this group is right up there with them."
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