Falcons flash big-play potential, strong defense

1. Offense continues to shine: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan engineered two quick-strike touchdown drives against the Jets. He used a 60-yard short pass-and-run to fullback Collin Mooney to set up a 4-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Leonard Hankerson. After a 59-yard punt return by Devin Hester, running back Terron Ward scored on a 2-yard run. The first-team offense has outscored the opposition 31-0 in two exhibition games. Ryan finished 4-of-5 passing for 75 yards.

Backup quarterback T.J. Yates replaced Ryan. The offense bogged down as Yates and Renfree alternated series in the second quarter. Yates was tackled for a safety by New York’s Leonard Williams.

2. Defense was stout: With strongside linebacker Brooks Reed making his first start with the Falcons, the first-team defense forced two punts after giving up one first down. Robert Alford played inside at nickel. Rookie Jalen Collins came in and played at right cornerback. Phillips Adams started left cornerback for Desmond Trufant. On third-and-9, the coverage by the secondary was solid, and Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick scrambled for a 3-yard gain. To stop the Jets’ second possession, Paul Worrilow batted down a pass intended for tight end Jeff Cumberland. Later, Alford had a holding penalty to negate a deflection by Reed.

3. Punt-return magic: Hester still has his punt-return skills. He broke loose for a 59-yard punt return in the first quarter before he was chased down by New York’s Bilal Powell at the Jets’ 4-yard line. Reserve Nick Williams, who had a strong game in the opener, held onto a punt after getting pummeled on a fair catch.

4. Hankerson steps up: With Roddy White out of the game with elbow injury, Hankerson started at wide receiver opposite of Julio Jones. He broke free on a nice inside cut and caught a 4-yard touchdown on the Falcons’ first possession.

5. Up-the-middle power: Defensive tackles Jonathan Babineaux and Adrian Clayborn made a couple of strong plays early in the game. Babineaux broke into the backfield and dropped Chris Ivory for a 4-yard loss. On the next play, Clayborn, who’s trying to revive his career with the Falcons, sacked Fitzpatrick for a 9-yard loss on third-and-14 from New York’s 34.

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