In what amounted to a surprising struggle at home, the Atlanta Falcons pulled off the win over the Washington Redskins on a score of 25-19 thanks to a pick-six by Robert Alford in overtime. Playing from behind for much of the game, the Falcons took a late 19-16 with 24 seconds left in the game, but allowed the Redskins to move down the field to get into field goal range where Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins nailed a 52-yard kick to send the game into overtime. But the Falcons defense redeemed themselves from that final drive, getting the game-winning turnover on the Redskins’ opening drive in overtime.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan struggled throughout the game, looking out of sorts on his way to complete 24 of 42 passes for 254 yards, with no touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. On the ground, Devonta Freeman did his best job to make up for it by rushing for 153 yards on 27 carries with a touchdown. Freeman also added 44 yards on seven catches in the passing game. Tevin Coleman in his first game back after suffering a rib injury in Week Two was quiet with just two carries for three yards.
Tight end Jacob Tamme led the team in receiving, catching eight passes for 94 yards. Julio Jones looked limited with the toe and hamstring injuries, but managed to snag five passes for 67 yards and recovered a fumble in the endzone for another touchdown. Veteran Roddy White had another relatively quiet performance with just two catches for 23 yards, but both receptions were made in critical moments to help set up a pair of scores in the Falcons’ comeback.
Matt Bryant’s erratic kicking personified the team’s overall struggles, as the usually outstanding kicker missed two field goals. A 38-yarder bounced off the right upright while a 48-yarder bounced off the left upright. Bryant did however make a pair of field goals of 42 and 28 yards. Matt Bosher punted only once for 51 yards. Eric Weems returned a pair of punts for 14 yards.
The Falcons generated 418 total yards of offense and finished the game converting six of 15 third-down attempts. The Falcons also converted all three fourth-down attempts. But despite the relatively solid offensive performance the Falcons failed to finish drives thanks to three turnovers on offense and converting touchdowns on just half of their four red-zone trips.
Despite turning the ball over three times, the Falcons defense held strong for the most part, allowing just three Redskins points off those turnovers. The defense also held the Redskins to just 270 total yards of offense and got stops on eight of 12 third-down tries. The defense created two turnovers, both of them coming on Alford interceptions.
Linebacker Paul Worrilow led the team with nine tackles, including one for loss. Phillip Adams (five tackles, one forced fumble), Alford (one tackle, two interceptions), Jonathan Babineaux (two tackles, two tackles for loss, one quarterback hit), Adrian Clayborn (two tackles, two quarterback hits), William Moore (four tackles), O’Brien Schofield (three tackles), Paul Soliai (three tackles), Nate Stupar (four tackles, one sack) and Desmond Trufant (two tackles, one pass defended) had notable performances on defense.
The Falcons deferred on the coin toss, giving the Redskins the ball to start the game. The Redskins converted a first down on a crossing pass to wide receiver Pierre Garcon from quarterback Kirk Cousins on the second play from scrimmage, but a holding call on left tackle Trent Williams nullified the 13-yard gain. Alfred Morris was stopped for a four-yard gain on the next play, setting up a 3rd-and-13, which went back to Garcon for only 11 yards to force a Redskins punt to start the game.
The Falcons tried to feed Freeman to start the game, powering through tacklers on a pair of runs for three and seven yards, respectively. Ryan then hit Tamme over the middle, who turned it into a 25-yard gain to get the ball into Redskins territory. Ryan tried to take a deep shot to Jones on the next play, but the throw was too high for the receiver to reel in. Ryan then went back to Jones on the very next play, but once again was high on a throw that went into the hands of Redskins safety Trent Robinson. The Redskins took over at their 25-yard line.
Ra’Shede Hageman made a nice stop on first down to stuff running back Matt Jones for no gain. However on the next play a screen to Jones went for a big gain before he was finally tracked down by Worrilow down 17 yards downfield. Kroy Biermann stepped up and made a nice stop on Jones on a run off the right side for a two-yard gain. Cousins tried to scramble on the next play, but was tackled by Stupar for a sack before he got back to the line of scrimmage. That brought up 3rd-and-8 where Adrian Clayborn created some pressure and forced Cousins to overthrow tight end Derek Carrier to bring about another Redskins punt.
The Falcons took over at their own nine-yard line and Ryan dialed up Tamme on his first two passes. The first catch was a four-yard gain along the sideline, which was initially ruled an incompletion due to a force-out by Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland. However another official came in an overruled the initial call and deemed that Tamme stayed in bounds. That set up a 3rd-and-5 which Tamme converted with an 11-yard catch over the middle. However Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan was abel to beat fullback Patrick DiMarco for a sack to push the Falcons back nine yards. Ryan dialed up Tamme again for a 10-yard gain over the middle to get some of that lost yardage back. However Ryan overthrew Terron Ward on a checkdown on third down, leading to Bosher’s only punt of the game.
Falcons rookie defensive tackle Grady Jarrett got nice penetration on first down to stuff Morris for a two-yard loss to start the ensuing Redskins series. But linebacker Joplo Bartu was beat over the middle by running back Chris Thompson on the next play for a 14-yard gain. A pair of runs by Matt Jones got the ball into Falcons territory before Cousins dialed up Garcon, who was wide open over the middle for a 21-yard gain to get it in the red zone on the penultimate play of the first quarter. To start the second quarter, Cousins hit Thompson in the flat on 3rd-and-4, but Stupar made a good tackle at the sticks to force a 4th-and-1. The Redskins converted on a quarterback sneak by Cousins to give them a new set of downs at the Falcons nine-yard line. Two plays later, Cousins couldn’t connect with Garcon in the end zone on a high throw with Alford in coverage. But he did find an open Carrier for a seven-yard score on the next play as the tight end settled in between the zone as the Falcons only rushed three on third down. The Redskins took a 7-0 lead with 12:12 left in the second quarter.
To start the next Falcons series, Ryan missed by throwing behind Tamme. Tevin Coleman tripped on the turf on his first carry for a two-yard gain to set up a 3rd-and-8. Ryan then hit Leonard Hankerson on a slant throw for a 13-yard gain to give the Falcons a new set of downs. Ryan then dialed up another deep shot to Jones, but overthrew the receiver. But thanks to an illegal contact by Redskins cornerback Will Blackmon the Falcons wound up with another first down. Blackmon then broke up a pass to Jones over the middle, somewhat redeeming himself. Freeman’s six-yard run on the next play helped set up a manageable 3rd-and-4 with the Falcons near midfield. Tamme showed up again, reeling in a 17-yard pass down the seam to get the ball into Redskins territory. The Falcons fed Freeman two more times for a combined 12 yards before Ryan’s next pass went in the direction of Jones, but was behind the receiver and nearly intercepted. That sett up a 3rd-and-9 at the Redskins 24-yard line. Pressure flushed Ryan, who escaped the pocket to his left and tried to hit an open Tamme over the middle, but the tight end let the team down for the first time in the game with a drop. The Falcons were forced to settle for a 42-yard field goal from Bryant to get on the scoreboard with seven minutes left in the first half, down 7-3.
Cousins’ first pass on the ensuing drive went to Garcon, but Alford had tight end coverage to prevent the reception. Babineaux created pressur e up the middle to force another incompletion to Matt Jones on second down. But Jamison Crowder then gained 14 yards on a screen pass, making both Worrilow and Moore miss after the catch. Soliai and Hageman teamed together to stuff Jones for no gain on the next play before Trufant broke up a comeback pass to Garcon, forcing a 3rd-and-10. Cousins tried to go deep to Garcon, but threw behind the receiver. Garcon in trying to adjust to the poorly thrown pass, accidentally deflected it into the hands of Alford, who returned it 17 yards to start the Falcons at the Redskins 40-yard line on the next drive.
Freeman outran penetration on first down for a six-yard gain, but the penetration got him on second down as Ricky Jean-Francois stuffed him for a two-yard loss. Falcons receiver Nick Williams then made a contested catch with Redskins safety Kyshoen Jarrett on him for a 13-yard gain to convert the third down. Ryan tried to attack with Williams on the next play, but overthrew the receiver in the back of the end zone. The Falcons went back to Freeman, who gained seven yards on a run up the middle to set up a manageable 3rd-and-3 at the Redskins 16-yard line. However on that play Ryan was sacked by Chris Baker, forcing a fumble which was recovered by linebacker Will Compton at the Redskins 13-yard line. Despite the turnover, the Falcons wound up with nothing thanks to their own turnover.
As the two-minute warning, the Falcons forced a quick three-and-out and a punt before taking the ball over again at the Redskins 45-yard line with 1:39 left in the first half.
Freeman gained eight yards on each of the first two plays, with a run and catch. Then Tamme made a nice seven-yard grab over the middle, as the Falcons now had the ball at the Redskins 22-yard line with 33 seconds to go. But Ryan was sacked by Kerrigan on the next play, losing the Falcons three yards and forcing them to burn their first timeout with 27 seconds left. Ryan went back to Tamme on third down, but he was stopped a yard shy of the sticks after a five-yard gain. The Falcons dragged their feet on whether they wanted to go for it on 4th-and-1 or call a timeout. They eventually called the timeout, but not until five seconds were left on the clock. Bryant trotted out onto the field to attempt a 38-yard kick, but the ball hit the right upright and bounced away for the miss. The Falcons with two prime scoring opportunities at the end of the second quarter, failed to generate any points, going into halftime still down 7-3.
Julio Jones snagged his first catch of the game on the first play of the third quarter, gaining 20 yards on a slant. But he was stripped by Blackmon at the end of the play, but luckily was able to recover the loose ball. Freeman then found a nice cutback lane behind a block by center Mike Person for a 16-yard gain and the ball was already in Redskins territory after two plays. On a play-action pass, Ryan got decked by Jean-Francois, forcing a five-yard checkdown to Freeman on the next play. Williams then dropped Ryan’s next pass, which was followed by an overthrow to Hankerson on a deep post. The Falcons opted to go for it on 4th-and-5, where Ryan stepped up in the pocket and found an open Freeman for a seven-yard gain. Ryan overthrew Roddy White on first down and then had Breeland break up a throw to Jones on third down. The Falcons again were forced to settle for a 48-yard field goal from Bryant with the ball hitting the left upright this time for another missed kick. The Redskins took over at their 38-yard line with 11 minutes to go in the third quarter.
The Redskins tried to run the football, gaining 14 combined yards on the first two attempts before Stupar stuffed Crowder for no gain on the third try. Two plays later Crowder converted on a crossing pattern, gaining 12 yards to put the ball at the Falcons 32-yard line. Babineaux then knifed through the Redskins line to stuff Jones for a five-yard loss to set up a 3rd-and-10. Babineaux sniffed out the screen, stopping Thompson for a three-yard loss and forcing a long field goal from the Redskins. Dustin Hopkins’ 53-yard kick sailed wide right and the Falcons took over at their 43-yard line with 6:41 left in the quarter.
Freeman got things rolling on the next series with a pair of runs for 13 combined yards followed by a reception for four yards on a shovel pass where Ryan narrowly avoided a sack from Kerrigan. Jarrett then tipped a quick slant to Williams, bringing up a 3rd-and-6 at the Redskins 40-yard line. Immediate pressure by Stephen Paea forced an errant throw to Ward and the Falcons were forced to go for it on 4th-and-6. Jones snagged his second reception, this time a six-yard gain over the middle to convert. Freeman ran for six yards on the next play before being dragged down by a horse-collar tackle by Breeland, gifting the Falcons 15 more yards and putting the ball in the red zone at the 15-yard line. A pair of short gains by Freeman set up a 3rd-and-5 at the 10-yard line, where Ryan overthrew Hankerson in the end zone. Rather than going for it again on fourth down at the 10, Quinn settled for a 28-yard field goal from Bryant, which the kicker made. That brought the Falcons within one point, down 7-6 with 1:54 left in the third quarter.
Moore stuffed Morris on a run up the middle for no gain on the opening play of the ensuing Redskins drive. Cousins then missed his next two passes, throwing behind Ryan Grant on second down and then overthrowing Garcon on third thanks to pressure from Clayborn. The Falcons defense forced a three-and-out and the offense took over at their nine-yard line with 46 seconds left to go in the third quarter.
Freeman broke a tackle and gained 18 yards on first down, followed by a five-yard run off the left side on the final play of the third quarter. Freeman then gained seven yards after a nice jump cut on the first play of the fourth quarter to get the Falcons another first down. Ryan dialed up White on a slant, but a blatant hold by Blackmon gave the Falcons six yards and a new set of downs. Freeman hurdled a safety and gained 11 yards on the next play to put the ball into Redskins territory. Two plays later, Ryan scrambled for 11 yards and slid down a yard shy of the sticks. But Ryan was able to convert on the sneak on 3rd-and-1. Ryan’s next pass to White was completed for a 16-yard gain off a slant to get the ball to the Redskins 14-yard line. Freeman snuck through the left side for an 11-yard gain to put the ball down at the three-yard line. Freeman then was able to break off tackle, but was stripped just before hitting the goal line. Fortunately for the Falcons, Jones jumped on the loose ball in the end zone, giving the Falcons a touchdown and their first lead of the game, up 12-7 with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Falcons attempted the two-point conversion to push their lead to seven points, but the slant to Hankerson was broken up by a Redskins defender.
The Redskins responded quickly with a 10-yard pass to Crowder on first down, followed by a 26-yard gain off a screen to the same receiver. That put the ball in Falcons territory, where the Redskins dialed up a deep shot to Rashad Ross. Alford was flagged for defensive pass interference on the deep spot, putting the ball down at the two-yard line for a 42-yard play. Jones ran off the right side untouched for a two-yard score, giving the Redskins another lead. Pressure from Worrilow on the two-point conversion attempt, lead to Babineaux breaking up the throw and the Redskins’ lead stood at 13-12 with eight minutes left in the game.
On the next Falcons series, Jones converted another third down with a 10-yard crossing pass. However on the next play, Ryan’s play-action pass to White was undercut by Breeland for an interception. The Redskins took over at the Falcons 21-yard line after a 28-yard interception return.
The Falcons defense did a good job holding them, stuffing three runs to force a 3rd-and-goal at the Falcons six-yard line. Worrilow made an outstanding play by quickly reading a screen to Crowder, blowing it up for a four-yard loss and forcing the Redskins to settle for a 28-yard Hopkins field goal. That pushed their lead to 16-12 with 2:38 left in the game.
Ryan threw low on his first two passes, but Freeman and Tamme both made diving grabs for seven and 15 yards, respectively just before the two-minute warning hit. Ryan hit Freeman again in the flat on a nine-yard gain, setting up a 2nd-and-1 at midfield. Despite taking a hit, Ryan delivered to Jones on a comeback for 12 yards. The Falcons hurried to the line and Ryan found Jones again on the next play, with the receiver powering through several tacklers for a 16-yard gain. That put the ball at the Redskins 21-yard line with 1:08 left on the clock before Ryan couldn’t find an open receiver and scrambled for an eight-yard gain. Ryan showed excellent toughness on the play, lowering the shoulder and delivering a blow to Kyshoen Jarrett before going out of bounds. That stopped the clock with a minute to go at the Redskins 13-yard line. Breeland then broke up Ryan’s throw to Hankerson in the end zone on the next play. With 56 seconds left on the clock, the Falcons split Freeman out wide and Ryan targeted him on the slant for a 13-yard touchdown. However despite reaching the ball across the goal line, Freeman did not secure the ball all the way to the ground and the scoring play was overturned and ruled an incomplete pass. However despite the setback, it allowed the Falcons to bleed more time off the clock. On 4th-and-2, White came up big, snagging a contested slant for seven yards and putting the ball at the six-yard line. Freeman redeemed himself by powering through a tackler and scoring on a six-yard carry. Bryant connected on the point after touchdown, giving the Falcons a 19-16 lead with 24 seconds left in the game.
However despite pressure from Beasley on first down, Cousins hit Carrier in the flat before he stepped out of bounds after a 20-yard gain. With 17 seconds left, Cousins found Garcon deep over the middle for a 19-yard gain. The Redskins called their first timeout, stopping the clock with 10 seconds left while the ball was at the Falcons 41-yard line. Cousins then hit Crowder on a quick out for seven yards to give Hopkins a more makable kick from 52 yards with five seconds remaining on the game clock. The Redskins kicked line up and nailed the long field goal, tying the game 19-19 and sending it into overtime. The Redskins managed to move the ball 46 yards on four plays to set up that game-tying field goal on that final possession in just 24 seconds.
The Redskins received the ball after winning the toss in overtime. Crowder made a five-yard grab in the flat on first down before Thompson converted on his own five-yard grab in front of Kemal Ishmael to convert a 3rd-and-4. Despite pressure up the middle, Cousins hit Crowder on a crossing pattern for 17 yards. He was stripped at the end by Phillip Adams, causing the ball to go out of bounds. The officials initially ruled it an incomplete pass, but overturned it calling it a fumble. At their 48-yard line, the Redskins tried another pass from Cousins to Andre Roberts. The play was nullified by a pair of offsetting holding calls with tight end Anthony McCoy grabbing O’Brien Schofield and Trufant also being flagged for his contact with a Redskins receiver along the sideline. Morris gained two yards on the next play, putting the ball exactly at midfield. Cousins then tried to hit Grant on an out, but the receiver tripped and the ball went right into the waiting arms of Alford. Alford managed to tap-dance before going out of bounds and then sprinted 59 yards for the game-winning score.
The Falcons record now stands at 5-0, sweeping all four teams in the NFC East. They will face off against their first NFC South opponent this week on a short turnaround, traveling to New Orleans to play the Saints on Thursday night. This marks the fourth ever Thursday Night matchup between the two teams, with the Saints holding the overall record 2-1. The Falcons have split their matchups against the Saints on Thursday Night the past three years, both coming at home. Their last road game against the Saints on Thursday Night came in a 1992 loss broadcast on ESPN. Since Sean Payton took over as the Saints head coach in 2006, they have posted a 13-5 record against the Falcons, winning seven of nine home games in that span. The Falcons however did defeat the Saints in their last trip to the Superdome with a 30-14 win in Week 16 last season. Their last win in the Superdome prior to that was a 27-24 overtime win early in 2010.