A week after turning in a dynamic and record-setting performance offensive performance, quarterback Matt Ryan and the Falcons were manhandled by the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday.
With the offense stymied and the defense unable to stop the Bengals’ rushing attack, the Falcons were soundly defeated 24-10 before 58,574 rowdy fans.
The Falcons dropped to 1-1 on the season and the Bengals improved to 2-0.
Playing without prized-rookie left tackle Jake Matthews, Ryan was under siege for most of the game while the Bengals combined to rush for 171 yards on 44 carries. Ryan tossed three interceptions.
The Falcons have now dropped seven road games in a row played in outdoor stadiums. They lost all five outdoor games last season to Miami, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Green Bay and San Francisco.
The Falcons, a proverbial “Dome Team,” last won outdoors, 24-23, against Tampa Bay on Nov. 25, 2012. The Falcons were 1-7 on the road last season. The Bengals were 8-0 at home.
The Bengals won without their top receiver A.J. Green, who was declared out after suffering a toe injury in the first quarter.
Behind a strong rushing attack, the Bengals held a 10-3 halftime lead.
The Falcons were fortunate to be down by just one score because Bengals field goal kicker Mike Nugent missed field goals attempts of 38, 49 and 55 yards as they outgained the Falcons 293 yards to 98.
The Bengals took control in the third quarter.
The Bengals cashed in a big gamble by the Falcons and then intercepted Ryan, who passed for a career-high and team-record 448 yards last week against the New Orleans Saints, twice in the third quarter.
The Bengals on their second possession the third quarter, caught the Falcons in an all-out blitz.
Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton read the blitz and hit wide receiver Mohamed Sanu in stride on a slant. Falcons cornerback Robert Alford made a diving attempt to knocked down the pass, but missed.
Sanu raced in for a 76-yard touchdown.
Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan was shown shaking his head on the sidelines. Mike Smith had a chat with Alford perhaps about leaving his feet knowing that he didn’t have any safety help in that cover zero defense.
On the Falcons next play, tight end Levine Toilolo bobbled a pass that was tipped by Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict and intercepted by cornerback Leon Hall.
The Bengals had the ball at the Falcons’ 43 yard line.
Eight plays later, running back Jeremy Hill slammed into the end zone from a yard out to cap the drive. Nugent’s kick made it 24-3.
Ryan was intercepted on the Falcons subsequent possession when he was hit as he released a pass intended for Roddy White.
After forcing a punt, the Falcons finally got moving on offense.
Ryan added a 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Julio Jones with 8:35 left to make it 24-10. The ensuing onsides kick was recovered by the Bengals.
Falcons coach Mike Smith wanted to see the defense step up against the Bengals rushing attack. The Falcons gave up five explosive runs of 12 yards or more in the opener against the Saints.
The Bengals running backs, Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill, combined for a productive day against the Falcons. While they had only two runs of 12 yards or more through three quarters, they were effective as offensive coordinator Hue Jackson called more than 35 running plays to build up that 17-point lead.
Bernard had 27 carries for 90 yards and Hill added 74 yards on 15 carries.
The Falcons will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 8:25 p.m. Thursday night at the Georgia Dome.
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