The Atlanta Falcons improved their record to 5-0 with a 24-17 comeback win over the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
The game featured some big performances by Falcons players. Tony Gonzalez caught 13 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown and Julio Jones hauled in 10 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown.
The biggest performance, though, and the hero of the game goes to quarterback Matt Ryan of the Falcons.
After an early interception that was returned for a touchdown by Ryan Kerrigan, Ryan settled down and completed 34-52 passes for 345 yards and two touchdowns.
The Falcons tied the score at 7-7 when Ryan found Gonzalez in the end zone for a one-yard score. The play was slow to develop. As Ryan rolled to his right, a Redskins defender held Gonzalez and Ryan had to just throw it in the air and hope his tight end would come down with it. Gonzalez fought off the defender to tie the score.
Ryan later found Jones in the end zone for an 18-yard score. Jones made a great adjustment on the ball and was able to get both feet down before going out of bounds.
The zero of the game goes to Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III. It was not that RGIII necessarily played a poor game. He did not have any turnovers and was playing well.
However, in the third quarter Griffin took off on a run and while he tried cutting back to the inside of the field he slipped and was leveled by Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. Griffin lay on the field for a few seconds before walking off the field. He missed the rest of the game and was later diagnosed with a concussion.
The problem for the Redskins is that Griffin leaves himself open for these types of hits on a regular basis. In a game against Tampa Bay, he took a similar shot late in the game while he was driving the Redskins on a game-winning drive.
What makes Griffin so good is his ability to make plays with his feet. But he must learn to slide or get out of bounds and not expose himself to the kinds of hits that are going to make him miss games.
Kirk Cousins stepped in for Griffin and threw two interceptions. It is not RGIII’s fault that Cousins had two turnovers but he must realize he is too important to the success and future of the Redskins to take unnecessary contact from opposing teams.
There is nothing wrong with stepping out of bounds or sliding when you’re a quarterback. He does not need to prove his manhood to anyone.
The Redskins are relying on Griffin to be their franchise quarterback and lead them back to the playoffs. He cannot do that from street clothes on the bench.